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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2199355
Showing Ruby's frustration

Ruby in Rush Hour Traffic

WC: 1110

My computer pinged, a box popped up covering my work in progress. Leave for important phone call a fissure of excitement charged through my nerves causing my heart to add a few extra beats. I had a few minutes to finish up and close out the programs. I typed in the the data and pressed the save button. The circle twirled as I pulled my phone from the charger and slid it into the side pocket of my bag. I kept an eye on the circle, it shouldn't take this long, I'd been saving the data as I went, five minutes, I wanted to leave a little early. The circle continued to spin.

I pulled all the papers in a pile, banging them to straighten the edges, still circles, I pinched a clip binder around them and set them in the file basket. "Come On!" I whined and stood with my lunch bag and tote ready to run out the door. The clock ticked on and the screen appeared frozen.

The phone rang. I ignored it."I don't have time." I muttered. It stopped then rang again. I had stared at the display, I didn't recognize the number. "Go to voicemail," I'd growled under my breath and felt a moment of relief when the ringing stopped. Tension shot through my body when the phone rang again. Looking at my watch I turned my back on the strident ring, waved a frustrated hand at the computer and shut my door. "I'll deal with it tomorrow."

"Deal with what?" My boss spoke from behind me.

I gulped wondering how to answer his question, but it was rhetorical, he'd already passed me not expecting an answer. I heaved a sigh of relief and headed out to my car at a brisk walk. I don't run.

The car blasted me with heat like a brick oven. I didn't have time to let it dissipate, buckled the hot metal together and gunned the engine into drive.

Approaching the on ramp I watched as traffic passed over the bridge to see it moving at a nice pace. Turning, I committed to the drive and pulled into traffic on I-84, my blinker on, merging into the middle lane then checking my side mirror as I gauged my speed to move to the far left lane and increased my speed to match the flow of traffic. I took a deep breath as I sped down the lane.

Ahead red lights in rows indicated the usual backup "Not today! Please!" I glared at the quarter mile backup. Stopped I leaned my head against the backrest. "Why do these arrogant people get in my lane then try to squeeze back into the middle lane to go to north? The lane is backed up two miles." I shouted at the windshield and every car in front of me. I could see cars in my lane starting to move into the emergency lane passing the motorist blocking my lane.

Pressing down the gas I followed them and as I passed by I slammed my palm on the horn voicing my displeasure with their merging choice.

The flow of traffic moved at a quicker pace. I glanced at the car clock, I still had twenty-five minutes to get home. The email from the publishing company set the meeting for a phone call. I needed to be home where I would be calm and pleasant, not ranting as I was a few minutes ago. I took another calming breath and merged on to I-205 and came to another immediate stop due to a traffic jam. I could feel the tension rise in from my toes to my ears.

I traveled this way every day of the week. Some days I could make the trip in forty minutes and some days it might be over an hour. It looked like today would be the latter. "Why does it have to be today? Why didn't you all stay late at work?" I hollered though no one could hear me.

What if they called earlier? Should I call my husband to explain I was stuck in traffic and to tell them to hold on? My heart hurt. They wouldn't accept that excuse. Why hadn't I left earlier? That stupid phone call. I'd stopped to see who it was and the computer, I'd forgotten the frozen program.

The sound of my cell phone ringing in my purse interrupted my recall. It's ringtone indicated someone I didn't know. I'd set the CSI theme for all calls not assigned to someone I knew. The ringing stopped then immediately started. I ignored it again. I could feel the anxious rising heat as the sound added to the tension gripping me. The ringing stopped but the tension didn't reside.

Traffic in front of me increased speed leaving a slight distance between my bumper and the tailgate of the truck in front of me. I pushed the gas pedal a little and then as car swerved into my lane I slammed my foot down on the brake squealing tires stopping just short of the idiot's bumper. A scream filled the car. My fingers turned white gripping the steering wheel. My eyes locked on the car behind me and saw it stopped so close to my bumper I couldn't see the lights, but I saw the fear in the older woman's eyes as she too gripped her steering wheel.

I turned my narrowed eyes to the offender in front of me, but they grew round as I saw a white sheet of paper held by the passenger in the car, shaking it at me.PICK UP YOUR PHONE

"What?" I flung my hand in the air and screamed at the personage in the car. My phone rang and with trembling hands I grabbed it and held it to my ear.

"What is the matter with you? I almost ran into you." I yelled into the phone while shaking my fist at the two in the car. I stopped as realization hit me, "How did you get my number?" The words flew from my mouth sounding shrill.

The man spoke in a low even tone. The words filtered into my brain then became jumbled not making sense. "Repeat what you just said." I could hardly get the words through my dry lips.

Horns honked long irritated sounds and shouts probably peppered with insults and swearing but none of it registered. I didn't move, frozen to my seat. When a car stopped next to me and the woman shouted her concern through the open window, I slowly realized where I was and lifted my foot off the brake.

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