‘Why aren’t the lights changing Mum?!’ the whine in Maisy’s voice is reaching new levels. I don’t have an answer.
‘I need a wee!’ she shrieks.
‘I know love, you’ve told me that already haven’t you?’
Amazingly, I’m still in full calm parent mode. My heart’s bouncing around in my chest with the stress of it all, but my exterior is a calm lake. Well, in theory. No doubt my face is more beet red than cool blue but anyway.
‘Look there, it’s green. Green! Look!’ It’s fine we’ll be there in five minutes. That’s all. Five minutes and we’ll be at Nan’s’.
I swing the car out into the junction and indicate right. I hate driving. I’m completely out of practice because Mark did all the driving. That’s how he liked it so that’s how it was. But now it’s just something else I’ve got to get used to again.
A feint cry of a siren has me checking all the mirrors. My rearview mirror offers only the reflection of my teal and white spotted duvet crammed into the boot, and one wing mirror is pointing at the sky, as it has been for the entire 3-hour journey.
‘Where is it?’ I can’t work it out. ‘Nik, pull your face out your phone a minute and see if you can see it.’ I tap his leg beside me.
‘Mum, I’m about to ––’
‘I can’t see a bloody thing out of this car!’ The flares are firing inside and out now – all calm gone. I bloody hate sirens. They always send me into a bloody panic.
‘Amy, will you stop kicking my seat, please! I’m trying to concentrate. Nik, can you see it?’
‘What?’ he says, still not looking up.
The traffic ahead isn’t letting up, car after car whizzes by blocking my route. I feel like all the blood has been sucked into my face and the siren is growing louder.
‘Is it behind us?,’ I twist around for a look. ‘Aw Maisy, don’t cry love. I’ll stop as soon as we get through here.’
I turn back just in time to see I’ve missed a gap in the traffic. Long honks join the blare of the siren which is now undeniably behind us.
‘Can’t you see the sodding blue lights!’ I bellow at the oncoming traffic. Either they suddenly do, or my voice can carry because finally the traffic stops. I don’t hang around. I skid across the junction like a formula one driver desperate to get out of the way and on to Mum’s house.
The trouble is the police officer has decided on the same course of action. Only faster. Nik finally looks up from his phone to tell me, ‘Mum, you’re gonna hi–‘
The crunch makes the share bag of Maltesers that I didn’t share lurch in my stomach. Dread briefly courses through me. Then I remember, I’m driving Mark’s car.
‘Mummy, I wet myself.’ Maisy whines.
This was written for my writing group in Liverpool (Revolting Peasants set up by Jude Lennon). It’s a bit of fun that keeps the writing muscles going. Each month we take a simple prompt and see what comes. This month the prompt was a random line from a book: ‘Why are these traffic lights taking so long to change?’