“STOP THE CAR,” she screamed from windpipes that rarely whimpered past a librarian’s whisper.
“I said, Stop.” With a mobile phone in hand, she leant forwards. “I’m taking a photo of your Identification and texting this to my partner.” She lied but tapped away to maintain her bluff.
“Fine.” He slammed on the brake and the taxi skidded in the rain, forcing his passenger to shoulder slam into the driver’s seat.
Too livid to speak, her tossed coinage bounced across the front passenger seat. Tucked her phone into her shouldered bag. Kicked the door open. Snatched up her pizza box and jumped out.
Shoes disappeared under water swirling around her ankles that divided the river’s run for freedom to the sea. All topped off with the taxi’s exiting rooster-tail tsunami dumping across her back. “Damn.”
Head balancing the warm box, wiping beaded brow, she spied her oasis beyond the watery wall. Against the tides rush, peeking through the cardboard’s guttering run-off she headed for shelter. Lost her shoes from uncoordinated lurches, and yet, with a leap of luck, she jumped onto the bus shelter’s bench-seat.
The drenched box splatted onto the bench while she performed an ungraceful belly dance to rid excess water. Checked her phone’s screen, dry, with the rest of her handbags innards. Then scowled at the last photo, realising there was never a happy-snap on her phone these days.
With pursed lips, she began mentally drafting her complaint about the driver’s monologue on how ‘roadworks are a cover for Council corruption’, while taking her on a skin crawling, stomach churning, expensive, detour.
She glanced at her painted toes wriggling with silt. Peeled paper remnants glued to lower legs. Then wrung out the bottom of her skirt. It was useless. She wanted to be at home, have a hot bath, a glass of wine and eat her, now-waterlogged, dinner.
Instead, she sniffed at the potential onslaught of a gutter-grit flu.
When between the shadowed slats of the bench seat she spied movement.
“Eww. A rat.” On tiptoes, palms slapped the tin roof, about to leap into the depths of muck. Until big, summer blue eyes gazed up amongst a grey grunge. “You’re not a rat,” wiping at her nose drip.
“Aww…” Deaf to the rain’s roof pound, naked soles slid into the unfelt cold water. Her hem floated, she reached forwards. Fingers curled around filthy fur and trembling rib cage. She cradled the bundle against her heart and wrapped it up inside her damp, yet warm, jacket.
“I got marinara.” She raised the lid, exposing pale cheese and bloated dough. “Perhaps not,” tipping it into the shelter’s pooling rubbish bin.
“Well, aren’t we a couple of drenched gutter-rats.” She took a selfie, laughing at the soaked duo reflected onscreen – proud to finally have a fun photo. And with pizza box draped over her scalp like a melting tepee, she smiled. “Let’s go home, Kitty,” and was rewarded with an offbeat purr.