Fiction, Melbourne, Parenting, Relationship and marriage, Writing

Stand off

Hailey was not going to back down. No way. She was in the right.

She was shaking though. That bitch edging forward caused her heart to leap right out of her chest. What did she think she was doing?

Car horns tooted. Hailey looked in her rear vision mirror; cars were banked up around the corner. A twinge of guilt rose up like bile. She should reverse. Glancing in the mirror again, she noticed there wasn’t space to go back.

Hailey looked out the windscreen. The woman’s son was shrinking in the passenger seat.

‘Not the first time she’s done something like this, is it mate,’ Hailey muttered to herself.

God, how Hailey longed to get out and give this woman a lashing. What a moron! She needed to be held accountable for her actions.

‘Go back!’ Hailey yelled, waving her arms for the umpteenth time. They’d been here for at least five minutes. ‘You need to move back!’

The bitch ignored her and just sat in the drivers seat, impassively playing with her phone on the dash.

Hailey closed her eyes. She got out of her car, furious. She stormed over and banged on the woman’s window. ‘You’re holding everyone up, you idiot! Reverse your car!’

The woman waved her finger at Hailey and mouthed a torrent of abuse at her. She shook her head as if Hailey was in the wrong.

Hailey took out her phone and dialled 000. She held the phone’s face to the window, so the woman could see what she was up to. Before she could be connected with the police, someone in a car behind the woman’s Subaru got out. He was big, wide shoulders and a head like an outdoor toilet: boxy and ravaged by the weather.

Oh fuck, thought Hailey.

‘Ladies,’ he said. His voice was gruff, annoyed. Hailey couldn’t blame him; she was annoyed too. ‘You! Wind down your window.’

She did. He wasn’t the type of bloke to argue with.

‘Care to tell me why you’re holding up…’ he stared behind Hailey’s car, then turned to count the cars waiting behind the Subaru. ‘…let’s see, I reckon a total of twenty cars?’

‘Well, you see, this fucken bitch,’ she began, and pointed ferociously towards Hailey. ‘Refused to give way on the speed hump. So I’m making her reverse to let me through.’

‘Love,’ he said patronisingly. ‘This woman’s front tyres are off the speed hump. You’re not even near it. That alone proves that this woman,’ he inclined his head to Hailey. ‘Is in the right.’

‘For fuck’s sake!’ she spat. ‘I bet you know her!’

‘Lady, I’ve never met her. But I am an off-duty police officer,’ he took out his badge and showed it to her. ‘And if you don’t move your car, I will call my colleagues who will come and fix the situation.’

‘Yes, sir,’ she said in a quiet voice.

‘Your name?’

‘What? Why?’

‘Give me your name.’

‘Marigold Merton.’

‘And yours?’ he asked Hailey.

‘Hailey Westerson.’

‘Marigold. You owe Hailey an apology.’

‘Sorry,’ she mumbled without looking at Hailey.

‘Now, move your car back. Next time, slow down. These are residential streets. Families with young children live around here. It’s school drop-off time. Slow down,’ he repeated. He cleared his throat. ‘And for God’s sake, you don’t lose anything if you back down from a situation. Think about. Make better choices next time. If not for you, than at least for your son and the others who are being held up only due to your ego.’

Hailey grinned. What a way to win. Could only have felt better if John McClane had saved the day.

The sound of many drivers leaning hard on their car’s horn snapped Hailey from her reverie. There was no off-duty policeman, she noticed with disappointment. She was still in her car. Marigold—if that was even her name—was not reversing. Passers-by had gathered, pausing on their way to appointments to watch the outcome.

Finally, Marigold gave into the pressure and moved her car back, far enough for Hailey to edge past her. When their windows matched up, Hailey refused to look her way.


Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

5 thoughts on “Stand off”

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