Christmas at the tail end of a hectic year always deserves a new dress. It didn’t matter that I’d just drained out my account doing all the ‘musts’ of parenthood, daughterhood and all the hoods and ships of my life at the end of the year. Conviction that my soul needed placation set me off to drop cakes and try on clothes that should make the extreme pleasure of a week long holiday that didn’t count in the calculation of the officially doled out vacation dates even more exciting.
The journey to the pastries and clothes shops required a stretch on the motorway. The warm fuzz of anticipation of an enjoyable ride on a porthole-free road on a day when traffic should be at a minimum, tingled in all corners of my body.
A few miles on the stretch and the inevitable human habit of disturbing carefully dreamed perfection began to manifest. A couple was driving very slowly in the fast lane. The fast gathering line of cars behind them soon lost the bonhomie of the season. Car after car started to overtake the small car on the wrong side. Soon it was my turn to throw a look of disdain in their uncaring direction.
The man and woman were intensely arguing. I felt sorry for them. What was so wrong that Christmas couldn’t cure? Of course, I was being silly. I recalled similar situations in my own life when I didn’t care that the day was beautiful. Arguing to settle differences still made perfect sense. Just as I passed them, the craziness went beserk. The car swung sharply to the left, into the shrubs lining the freeway. One of them must have instantly reacted to the peril their anger had placed them in. I saw the car swing itself back to the road, bump in an arc clean across the double lanes in a sharp knife to reach the extreme right and hurtle into the bush on the other side. The trauma of the drama caused all cars to start pulling up.
The little car hurtled its way to a stop straight against a ridge walling the bushes. The front part of the car crumpled like an unnecessary letter whose content had been looked over by the receiver and thrown in the bin. And we stopped to watch helplessly. As the shock drained, people jumped down to check on them. Life was gone from both people. From anger to nothing. I wondered the use of hanging around to see the police and ambulance come. Dazedly driving away, I contemplated the kind of Christmas their loved ones had been given.
As I entered the next main road that would take me to the dress shop, a taxi driver anxious to drive faster honked at a slow driving driver having a laugh with the pretty lady at his side. The taxi pushed close to them to overtake their car, the romancing driver dug in his heels and stepped on it, and there before my eyes, a dangerous duel of speed started. I drew off the road and just sat numb.