|Written for the contest "Invalid Item" by A Guest Visitor
This was it. This was the most embarrassing day of my life. It wasn't the accident, or even knowing that I would have to find yet another driving school, but something far worse.
I looked at the crumpled hood, at the bashed-in door, and had a strong hunch that today's lesson would count as a fail. I only hoped it didn't mean I had to give up driving lessons completely.
"Technically, it isn't my fault, right?" I asked, turning to my instructor who stared in wide-eyed horror at the wreck. At least nobody involved in the accident appeared to be hurt. The other cars were damaged, yes, but considering the drivers were all out of their vehicles, waving their arms, and shouting words (some I'd never even heard before), I assumed it wasn't as bad as it looked. Well, it looked bad, but at least it wasn't . . . bad-bad, like . . . fatal. I couldn't help but smile. I've always had a knack for seeing the brighter side of things.
"See, the light didn't actually turn red until I was like, what? A good . . . " I splayed my arms to show him how far from the intersection I'd been. I've never been good at measuring distances and so I gave up the demonstration. "I was a good ways from the intersection anyway—and you were there. You saw, there was no way, I mean no way, that I could have stopped in time."
My instructor continued to stare at me with his eyes all a-goggle.
He didn't answer, and I couldn't help but worry if something had happened to him? Had he bitten off his tongue or something?
"Speak to me! Speak!" I slapped his face like I've seen them do in movies to get shock victims jumpstarted. It worked.
"Keep your hands off me," he said in a low and distinctly menacing voice. He turned to his clipboard and scribbled furiously.
"You know," I said in a panic, hoping he wouldn't kick me out of driver training like the last four schools had, "you know, I really am a good driver. I would have stopped if I could have! I swear it."
"The light was yellow and you—"
"I know! Which is why I sped up in the first place! If it had still been green, we would have been going at a good speed and I would have stopped for that red light in plenty of time! If you ask me, the problem is that yellow lights don't stay yellow long enough. I think I'm going to have to write a strongly worded letter to the . . . who handles this stuff? Lights and all that? Traffic? Is there like a traffic department or something?"
He continued scribbling furiously.
"Stop that," I demanded. He glanced up once, breathed through his nose heavily and went back to making big red X marks on the papers, and scribbling little notes. I was so angry then that I was the one suddenly rendered speechless. I stuck my nose in the air to let him know I strongly resented his crazy red scratching and scrawling all over my assessment sheet. I even turned my head haughtily toward the window so I didn't have to see him in my peripheral vision and in that moment, I knew that today would go down as the most embarrassing day of my life.
Right across the street, my ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend were just coming out of my favorite clothing store and I could have just died. She and I were wearing exactly the same coats. I quickly covered my face, then acted as nonchalant as could be, hoping they wouldn't notice me—and go telling people I buy off the rack.