The Transverse Reversal

I shift the stick into gear. Check to ensure no traffic. Commence delicate balancing act of my shoes hovering above the accelerator pedal. With a gradual clutch release, the vehicle is in motion—backwards.

An ear-splitting scream is emitted from the scrape of metal upon metal. Glass explodes. Two bodies jump, necks jerk. Seat belts tighten. The car vibrates and shudders.

Embedded in the boot compartment was a large pole squashing the back seat to half its size, now windowless.

Meanwhiles the wheels were still smoking, engine roaring, the car shuddering—backwards.

Two feet stomped on the brakes and the car stalled still, followed by a smoke-clearing silence.

CREEEEAK.

My skin prickles at the racket reminding of nails scratching across the glass, with the added bonus of an off-key bugle bleating as iron and metal bent behind us.

No, it was coming from above us.

Our eyes shoot to the roof’s interior.  Birds screech. Our bodies flinch. I cover my scalp, wincing at the noise of screaming twisting steel that topples and bounces with an earthquake shake.

It just missed the bonnet by a cat-whiskers breath, with the car now the centre of a triangle, between the road and the bent tee-pee styled pole.

Power lines whip freely like snakes across the asphalt as houses are shut-down and neighbours start to poke their heads outdoors.

Inside the compacted sedan, I turn to my driving instructor and said, “So, that’s reverse gear, huh?”

 

Do you remember your first driving lesson?

 

(250 words)

 

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The Nature Show

My shoes sink slightly towards the gravelly edge of a red muddy beach. It’s where the bitumen road disappears under the floodplain giving life to this red-dust riddled land. The water mirrors the early morning’s azure blue sky, casting the illusion of an inland sea saturating the wilderness. Where, like a tattered crochet blanket, contrasting plates of green water lilies and beads of white, pink, and purple flowerheads open to greet the sun’s new day.

The scene was so serene at first glance.

But on closer inspection…

Chaotic.

Imagine a musical Broadway production going through its final preparations before the show begins. Showgirls, dashing between costume changes are the bright colourful Rainbow Lorikeets and Ring-necked Parrots darting across the water. Egrets stretch their legs like perfectly poised ballet dancers. And looking every bit the musical Conductor overseeing his orchestra in a rich navy plumage is the statuesque Jabiru wading on the water’s edge.  There is a low humming of instruments being fine-tuned by the assorted bugs and beetles, as the Choir warms individual choruses via differing fly-by flocks. Lastly, the hidden stage technicians lurk beneath the water, being the Crocodiles, Barramundi, and long-neck turtles that silently direct stage props and actors to their places.

 I  flick my fishing lure into the water where the road disappears into this tropical oasis that only occurs a few months of the year. Standing there, as the sun creeps higher as the only spectator, I can’t help but enjoy the show.

(250 words)

 

 

When Traffic is Made To Stop.

It’s peak hour and the highway is crawling bumper to bumper, and at the mercy of traffic lights they sit and wait as a group.

But individually…

There’s an old muscle car with different coloured panels, its heavy V8 engine rumbles, sporting new rims and tyres. The young man behind the wheel is putting on his tie while eating a piece of toast. The sounds of a marketing Pod-cast is heard over a singular speaker jammed on the dash with a white cord running to his phone. Both car and man are works in progress.

A sleek luxurious sedan contains a ramrod straight-back driver. Blonde hair in a twist. Wearing a crisp white blouse and a blue scarf knotted at her neck like an airline stewardess. Her manicured nails tap on the steering wheel as she sits expressionless behind dark sunglasses. If not for the fingertip-tap-dance, she looked like an inflatable autopilot from MIB.

In the back seat is a young boy wearing a private school uniform who flips me the bird. Then he checks to make sure the stone-faced autopilot didn’t see him. He’ll become a company director-driven around in limousines all day.

A bearded man sits in his four-wheeled drive ute with an in-house filing system represented by a chaotic mass of paperwork sprawled across the dash. He’s listening to talkback radio while cleaning his fingernails with a pocket knife.

A woman in the hatchback, dusts assorted small soft toys and solar panelled dancing flowers. She’s rearranging them in a particular order upon the crocheted blanket that covers the dashboard. All that’s missing is a few fairies, a miniature tea set, a white rabbit, some hats and they could have a party.

A mud coloured station wagon with a kayak rests on the roof rack. The driver’s head leans against the headrest. Yawning, between sips from his coffee cup, he rubs tired eyes. His damp hair tousled, chin unshaven on tanned skin. He sips, yawns, rubs his eyes. Repeats.

Two young females inside a Mini, share the overhead mirror space applying their makeup, brushing their hair, all while lip-synching to music. Their tiny car is rocking and becoming a mobile fume cloud from perfume, deodorants, and hairspray.

From his heightened perch above the crowd of waiting cars, the truck driver picks his nose and looks down into the Mini. Shaking his head as his eyes widen watching the two young women perform the well-practised hair and makeup routine.

His passenger is reading off the clipboard with boots rested on the dash, he glances out the window and nods to the bearded guy in the ute folding up the pocket knife.

The lights turn green and with a thunderous roar, exhaust plumes high into the morning sky. And like a washed-out leaky rainbow of separating colours, they disappear in search of the own pots of gold.

Gone.

To turn around.

And do it all again – tomorrow.

(500 words)

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