Caught in Traffic #FlashFiction #ScienceFiction Thoughts on the Big Picture
Caught in Traffic
or Thoughts on the Big Picture
By Frankie Valinda Ghee
It was twenty minutes into the worse traffic jam Naomi had ever seen, and today was the worse day for it. Naomi was bringing her boyfriend Trent to her niece’s birthday party. It was going to be the perfect setting to introduce him to her always judgmental and over protective family. They would all be there, her parents and her sister Jessica with her perfect husband and her three perfect children. They were, no doubt, ready with passive aggressive, condescending remarks. “Oh, so this is your current fling? I hope this one has more staying power than the last one.” Naomi could already hear the jibes in her head. Trent was in for a long day, but there was no help for it. Anyway, there was no way Trent’s day would turn out to be any more stressful than the day Naomi was already having.
Naomi’s day had begun perfectly…awake on time, good hair, perfectly fitted outfit. Then she opened the calendar app on her computer and realized that today was February 12. Of course she knew the date. It was her niece’s birthday. What Naomi had failed to grasp until just that moment was the personal significance of the date. With that realization everything changed. She made an unscheduled trip to the bathroom and after a bit of nervous fumbling, found what she was looking for underneath a bag of cotton balls in the second drawer beneath the sink.
Now, Naomi was running scared and late. She couldn’t take it for one more second. She had to say it out loud or her head would explode.
It was twenty minutes into the worse traffic jam Peyton had ever seen, and she’d never felt so trapped. There was no winning in her situation. Her mother had done such a good job of hiding her drinking and over medicating from everyone who mattered that Peyton had been forced to play along. Last night, things had gotten way out of hand. Mom brought Gary home with her. Gary was exactly the deviant pervert type that both her parents had been warning her about since she was old enough to understand sentences. Now, her mother was asking her to treat the man like family. There was no more room for ignoring or pretending.
This morning, Peyton confronted her mother about the drinking and about Gary. Mom responded by immediately storming into Peyton’s room, throwing random articles of clothing into a suitcase, and dumping Peyton on her father’s doorstep with absolutely no explanation except, “You deal with her!”
Dad’s response was angry and preoccupied. It was completely out of character. He did not question her or comfort her.
“You will be coming with me, and you will be polite, and you will be appreciative,” he had barked. “This is a very important day for Naomi and me. I have been planning this day for weeks. You will simply have to save the details of whatever silly fight you had with your mother, until we get back home. Am I clear?”
Am I clear?
Peyton would simply have to make him understand. If she held it in one more second, she would implode.
It was twenty minutes into the worse traffic jam Trent had ever seen, and it was the worse day for it. Trent had been practicing all week what he would say to break the ice with Naomi’s family. Now he would have to explain why they were late, and why his sullen, teenage daughter was with them.
Trent knew how important it was for him to show himself in a positive light. This party was a test. If he passed it, his plans for the evening would go without a hitch. If he failed the test, it might mean the end for him and this woman who was the best thing in his life.
Well, Naomi was the second best thing, second only to his daughter Peyton. Peyton was in fact the true love of Trent’s life, but today, he had treated her like unwelcome baggage. He had been more worried about his plans and his future than about Peyton and whatever obviously huge thing she was going through. If Naomi knew how he treated his own daughter, she might think twice about introducing him to her family.
Trent turned around in his seat and tried to make eye contact with his daughter. She had her hands up to her face and was crying into them. He needed to explain his bad behavior to her and to Naomi. If he waited one more second, he might lose everything.
The temperature inside and outside the car suddenly jumped thirty degrees. It was now or never. Speak now, or forever hold your peace.
At the same moment the engines of every motorized thing on earth (including the engine of Naomi’s gold Avalon) seized, the three passengers inhaled together and exhaled the word “I’m.”
Naomi’s next word was going to be “pregnant.”
Peyton was going to say “scared.”
Trent was planning a longer thought, “going to ask Naomi to marry me.”
They all said, “I’m…” and then a blinding flash of blue flame reduced the car, the bridge, the city and the planet to a few floating particles of dust.
When you looked at the really big picture, that tiny bit of shine was less than the skin of one grape, and its inhabitants of no more concern to those hovering gods than an appetizer to a forgettable meal. There was no regret only a noise…like a small belch and then on to the next course.