I can see her in my rearview mirror. She marches fast and furious like a toy soldier wound too tight. Left-right-left-right she stomps, straight to the object of her harassment. That would be me.
She whacks on my roof with that ugly stick she carries. I try to look innocent.
“Oh, it’s you,” I say, in my best imitation of sincerity and surprise.
“Yes, Madam…you took the words right out of my mouth. How many times do we have to have this conversation? Can’t you read, Lady?”
“Why yes, I can read; been doing that since first grade.”
“Okay, Miss Smarty, what does that sign say?”
“The one beside the one that tells you how much the fine will be if you do not comply.”
I act dumb now. Innocent didn’t work.
“You mean the posted command you made me recite last time?”
Her face is the color of strawberry pie as she rocks back and forth in her sensible officer shoes. Her left eye begins to twitch. Why in the world is she so angry with me?
“No, that was about keeping off the grass, which you so comically informed me you had never touched in your life.”
I smile at how good I am at getting her goat and then slide over to the passenger seat and lean back as if to take a nap. The second my eyes close she bellows with that irritating four-alarm screech. I bolt upright so fast I knock over a cup of cold coffee and spill most of it on my shoeless foot. Now I’m the one who’s getting pushed too far.
“Hey!” I yell back. “Why don’t you leave me alone? I’m just parked here for a well deserved rest. There’s no traffic. I’m not hurting anyone.”
She whirls around and storms off. In seconds she returns, but in a more somber mood. She opens the back door and climbs in--ready to talk some sense into me. I don’t turn around. I can hear her breathing. I wait.
She doesn’t say anything. Hmm…that’s a new approach. I try some fresh bait.
“Anyway, what’s it to you if I’m disobeying a sign? You don’t wear a badge, and I hope you don’t have a gun. What are you gonna do…put me in disobedience jail?”
I’m not prepared for her new tone…almost like a mother speaking to a stubborn child.
“Honey, God has a job for you. You cannot just pull up here in the shade and shut off your motor and kick back like a truant kid. You’re in a no parking zone but you’ve convinced yourself this special spot is your private property. In reality, it may not exist at all. It’s time to put on your big girl clothes and stop whiny-babying around. You’re a daughter of the King. NOW ACT LIKE IT, MISSY.”
I turn slightly, just enough to peek through the small space between the seats. She’s convinced I’m listening so she pokes me with the sharp point of her purpose.
“I want you to take a deep breath, say a prayer, get behind the wheel, and start this engine. I do not want to see you sneak back to this block and park here like a squatter for the rest of your life. Do you understand me?”
Chastised, I blink away tears but keep my mouth shut. She continues to shake me out of that unproductive cycle I have embraced with such binding loyalty.
“The only ones who linger in this space seem to believe they have an excuse to cancel the whole trip. This is a temporary spot, not a permanent residence.”
“Wait,” I plead, “You don’t understand how hard I try. I’m tired. My head aches. My toe hurts. I have responsibilities. I have no talent. Nobody likes me.”
She’s not buying my self-serving malarkey. I hear tap-tap-tap as she drums her fingers on a thesaurus she found in the floor. She foiled my attempted escape to safety. Her wisdom has arrested me. I’m nailed.
I straighten up, turn the key, shift into first gear, and pull away from the curb. When I glance in the rearview mirror I realize the woman whose reflection I see looks a lot like, well…like me.
Truth clears the fog away and I resume my intended journey. I certainly was not born to be wild, but I can’t help singing my own lyrics with gusto and abandon: Got my motor runnin’…getting’ on the highway…
“If you sit waiting for inspiration, you will sit waiting until you are an old man. Writing is like any other job—like marching an army, for instance. If you sit down and wait until the weather is fine, you won’t get far with your troops. Kick yourself, irritate yourself, but write; it’s the only way.” (Winston Churchill)
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