At the stoplight, I think about turning left instead of right and going who-knows-where but definitely not to my office. Then it turns green, and I move along my path just like every weekday morning. Once I merge onto the highway, the idea of turning the steering wheel ever so slightly and letting the car wander into the other lane occurs to me again. I don’t want to die; maybe just a couple of broken bones and a black eye or something. A coma would be nice as long as there are no brain injuries. I side-eye the car next to me and it’s a woman with a toddler in the back seat, and she’s smiling and the little boy is smiling and I’m not a monster so I keep going.
Last night Dan said, “Let’s go out!” as if getting all the stuff in the diaper bag and making sure there’s something uploaded on the iPad and getting two kids in the car before we’re starving and grouchy is so easy. I told him I wasn’t hungry and waved at them all from the doorway. “I’m going to get the house cleaned up,” I’d said, and Dan smiled too big and said too quickly that the house could definitely use a good cleaning, so not long after they left, I was standing in the backyard with two hamsters in my hands. “Be free,” I whispered before setting them down gently on the side of the fence that the realtor called a conservation area but we know is really a wet patch of wildness. I walked back to the house, not thinking about owls and snakes, planning on blaming the disappearance on my daughter who cried and cried and cried when I told her gently, “You must have left the cage open.”
My exit is coming up, and I put on my blinker, but my gaze lifts to the sign above the endless line of red eyes staring back at me. I could head south and keep going. By four o’clock I could be in Key West where no one would care if I never wore a bra again. But I keep going the way I always go. My sensible car is like that ride at Disney World, the one with the cars that go round and round on the track to nowhere while kids grip their little steering wheels as if they truly believe they could drive right to the castle if they wanted to.
I ride down the ramp to the gridlock of downtown toward the parking garage, hoping that my spot on the third floor next to the breezeway isn’t taken again today. My life narrows to a pinpoint in front of me, and I squeeze myself into it for one more day, wishing there was someone to put me on the other side of my fence.
Andrea Rinard is a Florida native, long-time high school English teacher, and emerging writer. She enjoys the luxury of being in the graduate certificate program in creative writing at the University of South Florida and is also an alumnus of the Yale Writer’s Workshop. Her work can be found in The Jellyfish Review, Prometheus Dreaming, Crack the Spine, and Spelk. You can read more of Andrea’s work at writerinard.com and follow her on Twitter @aprinard.