An excerpt (a very rough draft) from my book Drive: No Mirrors, No Looking Back
She would not let panic set in. Not yet. The lines were out to the streets, blocking traffic. If she could get in, she’d probably need a push to finally get her to a pump. To stop or not? She decided not and kept driving in hopes that she’d come across one gas pump somewhere within a half-mile radius that wasn’t bagged or blocked off before her car shut off.
The frenzy was ridiculous. Economic downfall and bursting pipes and she was fresh out of luck at the present moment. She only needed a couple of gallons to get her to where she needed to go, then she’d be on her merry way. She was in desperate need, but as her car began to shut down she was forced to quickly accept the reality of that need not being fulfilled. There was barely enough power to guide her car to the side of the road out of harm’s way. The gas station a half mile up the road was where she had hoped to reach before she had gotten to this point, but those hopes were dashed. At least now she kept a gas can in the trunk. History had taught her the importance of being prepared.
Her hike down the side of the road was as close to nature she had been in a while. Breath, heavy. Sunshine, a spotlight on her back making what would be pleasant weather terribly unbearable. It was only a half mile walk. A half mile she’d been accustomed to driving. The longest fifteen minutes of her life occurred during that walk. Her spirits had yet to be lifted once she reached her destination.
The barriers were up on all of the pumps except for one. She approached it but had to rethink her plan when she arrived to see there was no card reader, so her handy dandy debit card would be useless outside. Perhaps, she could use it inside where a cashier was present. She managed a little pep in her step as she trotted towards the building. She noticed none of the signage on the window indicated acceptance of plastic, yet she still held out hope.
“Sorry. We only accept cash,” the cashier dryly replied when she inquired about the payment policy. She hung her head low and turned to exit the store. On the other side of the door she stopped and dropped the gas can to her side. It took all of her energy, love, and power not to scream. She had so many plans for that day. So many things to accomplish. There was no more fight left in her for all she had endured for the past several weeks. She had lost her main stream of income. She had lost her secondary stream of income. She had lost her belongings. She accepted that the love she wanted was not what she received. She was inches away from losing everything else. And now the two things in her possession to help her get to where she needed to go were useless.
How was it that things she used on a daily basis—the reliable—had become unreliable in a matter of minutes? What did it mean that she had become dependent on things and not her own ingenuity? That she was partially prepared, only because of previous experience, but the just-in-case and maybe’s never crossed her mind so she’d be prepared for that as well? To have a car with no gas, but a gas can handy. A debit card with a few dollars in the account, but not a cent of cash in case she came across what some would consider a place of primitive business. What was this moment supposed to teach her?
She could stick around. Take in the fresh air and watch the cars pass by, none of them stopping due to the mostly correct assumption that there was no fuel to be bought here. Tentatively, she took steps in the direction of her stalled car. She needed the exercise anyway. Might as well look at the bright side.
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©LeTara Moore, 2016