A 1971 Clementine Orange VW Beetle poked through morning traffic, the orange color of the car camouflaging the rusted-out edges above each tire, and inside Cassandra gripped one hand tightly on the hot, black steering wheel, while the other hand choked the stick shift. She once again slammed on the breaks. The gridlock made her late, and she knew she needed all morning to prepare for the weekly meeting, even though it started at 1:00. If the other technical writers had to wait for her to start the meeting, that would be it. Her boss would surely take the whole thing away from her because he had emphasized more than once the need for her to improve her poor organization and multi-tasking skills. He had also counseled her on tardiness.
Her car popping and rumbling at a complete stop, Cassandra became fixated on the woman in the maroon SUV in front of her. The woman, young with long, crimped blonde hair, seemed unaffected by the clogging of cars as she stroked her hair over and over, pulling her long fingers and nails from her scalp to the ends. And each time she pulled, a clump of hair coiled around her hand that the woman tossed out the window, rubbing her fingers together until the clumps of hair delicately left and floated in the city pollution, bopping with the puffs of a slight morning breeze, and bouncing off of Cassandra’s car. The large floating hair balls barely touched the front of her Beetle each time, and then floated away, down the lanes of traffic. With each new clump, Cassandra watched in disgust, shifting in her seat, as if moving the position of her body could somehow cause the clumps to miss her car. She yelled out to no one when the clumps began to float in her direction. “Stop it lady! Get some hair conditioner for Christ’s sake!”
The masses of tangled hair and the pressure to get to the office forced Cassandra’s insides to make whining noises, twisted gurglings moving through her intestines, pushing out her stomach and making her bladder feel full. She looked over her shoulder until she found a slight opening in the adjacent lane, cut in front of a large Ford pick-up with ladders emerging from the back, and then scurried her little Beetle across three lanes of traffic that wound north and south through Denver and its surrounding areas. When she finally exited the highway and headed east on Arapahoe Road, she moved into the right lane and blazed through yellow lights, some turning red. Then she saw it. That damn sign again, “Right Lane Ends, Merge Left.” More gurgles tightened their grip. She knew that, if like the last three days in a row, the sign was still standing, and the right lane was, in fact, not closed, she would have to take action. Continue reading