Flash Fiction – The Commute

The fog relaxed in the ditches along the sides of the road and in the lowlands of neighboring yards. It played with the light of the rising sun as it waited for the cars to come along. With each vehicle that passed, some of the fog would find itself pulled away until all that was left of the hazy morning was fine mist that windshield wipers cleared with a quick one-two while stopped before the commanding gaze of a red light.

Joyce tapped her fingers on either side of the steering wheel as she contemplated the vanishing fog. She enjoyed watching it slink into the shadows where it clung to the trunks of trees and the twigs at the base of bushes.

In the intersection ahead of her a school bus turned just before the light reverted to green. Joyce didn’t notice. She was still contemplating the fog. The horn of the car behind her jarred her back to attention and she eased her way through the intersection.

A glance in the rear view mirror displayed a disgruntled driver behind her who was not afraid to tap the horn at the slightest provocation (or beat it into submission as the case may be). With a roll of her eyes, Joyce turned the radio up and ran through the stations until she found one that was playing music. There were few things she found more frustrating in the morning than listening to talk radio.

It began with the finger tapping and advanced to a little swaying, some head-bobbing, and tapping from her left foot until a rogue tap of the right foot almost sent her into the back of the paused bus in front of her, the vehicle behind her whining as she pounded the brake.

She stopped her tapping and began to sing along. It was safer even though no one had been hurt. Mostly she didn’t want the idiot behind her to have any reason to take down her plate number and report her. He had that look about him.

Joyce settled into the stop and start pattern that comes with following a school bus. After the third stop with the bus beginning to fill up, she started noticing the children riding at the back. The children began to notice her too.

A finger pointed, a hand covered a mouth to conceal light laughter, and then the mocking commenced with hearty laughter on full display.

Joyce was mortified. It was impossible for them to hear her but she halted her song mid-note. She let her sunglasses fall from their perch on her forehead and assumed a much sterner expression. The laughter in front of her grew less boisterous but continued as the children turned face-forward.

There was nothing she could do to make the children stop. She fought the urge to flip them off (which would have been completely inappropriate) and waited for the bus to make its turn from the main road to one of the residential offshoots.

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3 thoughts on “Flash Fiction – The Commute

  1. A great depiction of why cars should not be the default method of commuting!

  2. ganymeder says:

    Based on real life, I suspect! Hmmm? 🙂

  3. I like this story.
    It reminds me of Miss Brill, a short story by Katherine Mansfield.

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