Shave. Scrape teeth. Shower. Clothing. First reward of day in small kitchen. Dark, hot, bitter. Perfect brew to activate an imperfect day. No food. Not ‘til later, after caffeine works internal wizardry. Battered leather jacket, keys, open front door. Damn. Overnight snow on gray reality. Shiver from steps to car. Sunglasses and snow brush. Windshield and side windows cleared, snow on top of right foot. Wet sock. I hate Thursdays.
Engine wheezes to life. Cool. That’s fourteen years in a row, now. Back down driveway with head on a swivel. Leave neighborhood to squirrels, crows, and kids waiting for school busses. Right turn on to river road, abdominal knot begins to squeeze. Shadows flicker at edges of anxious vision, then transform to fat, drifting flakes. Breaths become shorter, with fewer seconds between. Fingers hold tight to cold steering wheel, cramped into semi-permanent positions. Up ahead, intersection looms empty, with no excuse or hope for delay.
Turn right, again. Can’t see It, yet, but It’s presence can be felt. It’s there! Up ahead. Waiting for me. Evil intent felt from unseen distance. Then, beyond a slight bend of street, sullen eyes lift to straight ahead. There it is! It’s red! Can it possibly be that this is the day it sleeps?
A shift of ankle leaves speed limit gasping in dismay, as hope takes hold! Will this be the time? Will I finally…no, wait. It’s green now. Still too far. Hope dies. Speed decreases as despair sinks in. It turns red again, while still a hundred feet ahead.
Will It snicker out loud, today? Or, will It just hum with amusement at my ire? The Grandchild says It’s just a simple stoplight, and the chuckles that I hear are the simple sounds of electronics at work, but I know better. It’s an evil thing, and it hates me, and it makes me sit through the entire cycle, every single time.
So smug, so patronizing, standing there as if it cares about my safety and security. But I know better, regardless of what The Grandchild thinks, I know its dark heart and malevolent spirit.
Kevin R. Carr 2022