Her name was Jeanie, and I love her. Of course she didn’t know it. Nobody ever does. It was early autumn and leaves should have been bright reds and yellows, glorious oranges like the sunset. But they weren’t. They were brown and green or somewhere in between. The sky was even gray to match, and nothing seemed right. But that’s the way things were going. Jeanie’s little two door Toyota flew along the country highway about as fast as it could go, but not quite as fast as Jeanie wanted to get home.
Pushing her tangled brown hair from her face, she glanced at her watch and pushed the pedal harder. She only wanted to get home. And you couldn’t blame her. Home is where everything can be okay. All the wrongs and sorrows and raging can be forgotten, and you rest in the comfort of that place called home. Of course home is only home in your memories, but Jeanie had yet to learn that lesson.
But perhaps she could learn another lesson, as blue and red lights lit up her rearview mirror. She swore, felt her pulse increase, and eased off the gas. She hoped the sirens would fly right by, but they didn’t. They grew steadily larger in her rearview mirror, bearing down to swallow her.
With the car stopped she slumped over the steering wheel, letting her hair fall in strands. She heard the officer close his door and she began tapping her head against the wheel, first lightly, and then harder and harder.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” the officer said, as polite as he could. Reluctantly, Jeanie stopped beating her head against the wheel, and straightened up. She pushed the brown hair away from her eyes and tried to pull it all together. The officer had called her “ma’am.”
“Can I ask why you’re in such a hurry?” the officer asked.
Jeanie thought for a moment. And then exploded like a burst pipe in your basement.
“Officer, I didn’t mean to go so fast you see I’m going home and I just want to get home and you don’t know what hell I’ve been through my roommate is getting married and I’m losing my apartment and I have no where to live and I don’t know what to do and I just got laid off at work so I don’t have a job and I don’t have any money to pay the bills if I even had rent to pay but I don’t cuz I had to move out and I just want to get home to my parents house and oh god I’m moving in with my parents and this has just been utter hell and I wish it was all over but it’s not I still have to get home but it’s another 200 miles and that’s why I’m driving so fast and I think I’m also pregnant.”
She stopped suddenly, speaking the last phrase slowly, because she didn’t realize it was true.
The officer closed his eyes through most of this, trying hard not to roll them into the back of his head and scream. When she finished he bit his lip and nodded slowly.
“I see. Why don’t you follow the posted speed limit and we’ll consider this a warning?” he offered.
Salty drips of water were rolling down her cheeks and she nodded, trying to blink them back.
“Okay then,” the officer said, “You drive safely now.”
“Thank you,” Jeanie muttered, her voice cracking.