• Shona

Which Way?

The quiet roads were quite beautiful during lockdown. As though the city's population had dropped to apocalyptic lows. Red lights at empty junctions, just me and my radio running the news of daily death counts. Cars parked in driveways in the middle of the day, no life but a few folk taking their allowed exercise. What a strange time. What a confusing time. Life changed, nobody knowing which direction we're headed in. All we can do is wait it out.

Pulling off the main road into a suburban street (one of those wide ones with tall trees lining it at elegant intervals, where I daydream at the houses each time I pass, wondering how wonderful life could be if only I lived in one of them) it was deserted except for two parked cars and a lone cyclist headed toward me on the other side. I linger to let the bicycle pass. She was taking her time, and I was in no rush. When you're one of only a few humans out in the world, there's an acknowledgement, a keen conviviality between you, much moreso than when places are bustling.


As the cyclist pedals leisurely towards me a parked car starts reversing, ever so slowly. Diagonally across the road, almost toppling over the biker. She pedals faster looking a little put out, and passes. I sit and wait, thinking that I'd best let this driver do his thing while I stay out the way. The car seems oblivious to anything around it as it continues to creep s l o w l y on a diagonal. I have no idea what on earth he is doing (or how many Sherries he had for lunch) as I hope to catch the drivers eye to make him aware he's not alone and, that he's a really bad driver. Is he parking across the other side? Is he trying to do a turn? Is he distracted or unwell?


Slow motion as I watch. Slow motion as it moves. Like a bad throw at a bowling alley. Aimless and unnerving. It continues s l o w as I get more confused. Is he going to steer and turn away from the pavement? Nope. He keeps rolling. Into a wall, scattering bricks onto the ground. Coming to an anticlimactic thump against the original stone wall which fronts one of the dreamy houses. Ooops. I say to myself.


I assumed this rather short, Sherry drinking driver would firstly be a little embarrassed, and would secondly get out to inspect the damage. Nothing happened. So I make my way past the curious car, rubber necking all the way to try and get a glimpse, only to realise that this car was empty! Driverless! This car had taken its own trip, like Herbie in a huff. It seemed such a strange little event to be witness to. Just me, the cyclist who scarpered, and a little car out of control. It struck me that it was a perfect metaphor for life during lockdown. We are all directionless and out of control, with nobody in the driving seat.


I don't know when the owner eventually found his car up against the wall, blocking the road. But I wonder, how many people are doing the same as that car? Wandering haphazardly, directionless, without control and unable to steer right now?


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