I could barely see through the rain. A metre ahead, if that. The driver’s side window wiper had stopped working.
I slowed down.
There you go.
God, that noise. A tattoo of rain. Mist over the road, silent. Thunder crashing overhead.
Stop. You cannot see.
I could not see. I stopped the car. The rat-a-tat of rain for company. Anxiety subsiding. Then: headlights in the rear vision mirror and the squeal of old, long-unchanged breaks. Footsteps on gravel, the flash of a torch or phone light.
Lock the doors.
I locked the doors.
Start the engine. Drive away. Better to plough into a tree or sign you did not see than…
I did not start the engine. I did not drive away. A tap on the window, gentle. I smile, close-mouthed, through the mist. I don’t think they can see me. Another tap. Please be a woman, I think. Not for now the low voice of authority, the strong hands of the car engine enthusiast. For now – give me a high voice, quiet sense, camaraderie if you must but no bluster, anything but bluster. Make me laugh without cruelty. Remind me of the dawn to come. Or fix my wiper and fuck off.
Another tap. Still gentle. I wind the window down a little, make an opening the width of a cigarette packet. Breath swirls into the car’s interior. A flash of lightning illuminates a thin, friendly face, framed by a tangle of long, wet hair, dark as the night.
I nod. They nod.
‘Can I help?’
I don’t think of the wiper. I think of Lennie with her. I think about the next day, the emails I will be replying to long into the night. I think of Lennie with her. I think: help me remember where I was going.
What are you?
I wind the window down a little more.
Then all the way down.
Rain flecks the inside of the door, the sleeve of my coat.
Yes you can help.
I reach into the darkness outside the car. I hold a face, wet like clay under my fingers. My lips press against theirs’. Our tongues search and meet. Our bodies quake.
I am reminded of the dawn to come.