Monday, February 8, 2010

Road Rage, by Melanie Avila

Janet stomped on the accelerator. The guardrail curved with the road, the scratched metal glinting in the bright sun and reminding her to take it easy. She eased off the pedal. Slightly.

Bruce didn't know what he was talking about. He’d walked in there with his shoulders back and that damned cocky expression plastered across his face, raising his eyebrows ever so slightly when she announced her decision.

Her decision. Not his. Since when did he care anyway? He always did what he wanted, when he wanted, and if it somehow worked its way into agreeing with her plans, great. If not, screw her.

Her fingers twitched at her jeans pocket. Maybe she should call—

A sleek blue car slung out from behind her and tried to pass on her left. “Screw you,” she muttered, and drifted over the center line. She tried to check over her shoulder but the seatbelt dug into her ribcage and kept her flattened against the vinyl seat.

The car fell back and her gaze settled on the rickety bridge that spanned the road. Two children leaned over the railing and waved as she passed, but her attention was locked on the smooth blacktop.

Bruce thought he was so smart. What? He's a guy so he automatically knows everything? Heaven forbid she ever know what she was talking about, and forget her ever being right. If it was up to him she’d hand all decisions over to him and become the fifties housewife he dreamed about.

As if.

The sun slid behind a clump of trees, then blinded her as she rounded the next curve. She nearly slammed into the backend of rusty green car that clung to the center line.

"Move it!" she hollered, blurring past the car and flipping the bird over her shoulder.

She couldn’t let him be right. Not that it would make any difference after that day, but just once… She flexed her fingers against the steering wheel, the grooved metal cool against her skin.

Not today. Today he was wrong.

Her foot pounded the slim pedal to the floor and she hurtled past the black and white checkered flag.

She screeched on the brakes, climbed out of the car, and tossed the pink helmet to the smiling attendant. A smirk danced on her lips as Bruce pulled to a stop alongside her. "I told you the red one was faster."


Erica Orloff said...

I smiled at the end. This was a really fun piece, because as it was going along, I thought it depicted the rage so wonderfully . . . never dawned on me something else could be afoot.


E. Flanigan said...

Nicely done! I didn't see the twist coming at all. In fact, you described my driving style so well, at first I thought you had been behind me in traffic .... haha. Would she really consider using her cell phone while racing, though?

One quibble: the word in the prompt was "stamped" not "stomped". After Jon's last post about word choice, I thought I should bring it up. (Assuming, of course, Jon didn't make the mistake when posting the story. In which case, shame, shame, word boy!)

Melanie Avila said...

Erica, this was the first prompt where the story came to me so quickly I started writing it before I could reply to Jon's post.

E, was it? Oops. I'll have to double-check that.

And that's how I drive, minus the flipping off. :) As for the cell, I figured our culture is so ingrained to have and use cell phones no matter the situation, that her reaching for it was more of a reflex than a conscious decision.

E. Flanigan said...

Oh, got it. That makes sense, she reaches for the phone that isn't there ....

Merry Monteleone said...

I didn't see the ending coming at all! Then I went back to reread the whole thing again, completely different once you know the ending and (other than the phone which you explained up there) it all still fit the scene. Nicely done, Melanie, but remind me to stay away from you in traffic :-)

LurkerMonkey said...


LOL. Nice job! You are a tricky one, what with the twisty endings and all. Spiders. Race cars. Flesh-eating monsters.

There were two "parts" of the story for me. The first was Janet's emotional relationship to Bruce, which just felt dead-on.. The part about how he does what he wants, when he wants, was totally authentic, and I pictured exactly how she felt.

The second part was the race itself and the hidden ending. I smiled, like Erica, at the end, but I did have to go back and reread. Two details threw me off ... the first was the presence of a "rusty green car" on the racetrack. What kind of race was this? A stock car race? A smash-up derby? The second was her jeans. She seems to be wearing a harness, but why not a racing suit also?

But these are niggling points ... Janet is just very likable.

Natasha Fondren said...

That rocks, Melanie! I didn't see the twist coming at all, but when I went back and read it again, it all worked out perfectly. Way cool!

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Merry. :)

Jon, there are definitely two parts. I debated putting her internal monologue in italics but figured it would be too much.

They're racing go-carts. I thought the pink helmet -- completely impractical and something a place like that would have -- might give it away.

Natasha, I love that I've made you all read it twice!

LurkerMonkey said...

Ahh. Go-carts. I got it now ...

Jude Hardin said...

Nice job! The ending surprised me, and I think climbed out of the go-cart would clear things up a bit.

Some rogue verbs here. Interesting, but maybe too many for a piece this short. I see what you're trying to do, but I think using traditional choices most of the time would make those little gems like screeched screech all the more.

E. Flanigan said...

I agree that a line like the one Jude suggested would clarify. (I didn't get that it was a go-cart race until you explained it.)

Once you know that, the whole thing works without a hitch!

Melanie Avila said...

Great suggestions, especially about adding that line. Thanks!

Janna Qualman said...

That was awesome! Great spin.

Avery DeBow said...

That was great. I kept waiting for the bad, which made the end so much better.

The rusty green car is actually believable; there are some horrifying go-kart tracks over here near the ocean. Whether Bruce would choose one of such dubious quality, well, that's up to Bruce.