I wrote and posted this story last year. It’s a good one for the season, I think.
I never learned to drive because I’ve had health and mobility problems most of my life. Part of my condition includes really bad fatigue, where I get so tired I can’t think straight. I always told myself that if I went a whole year without experiencing that kind of fatigue, I’d learn.
I got an opportunity when I was about 43. I was recently divorced and spending a year house-sitting for a good friend who was spending the year traveling. She said I could use her car while she was gone. She thought it was absurd that I never learned.
I hadn’t gone a full year without fatigue, but it’d been several months. I had started a B-12 therapy, and was pretty energized. I got a crash course in driving, got my license and was on the road on my own for the first time. My whole world opened up. Without long bus rides, I could go to work, go to the gym, go to a volunteer meeting, visit a friend, and get groceries all in the same day. It was amazing.
And it was too much for me. I was driving home one night after an exhausting day and I kept making mistakes. I didn’t remember to use my turn signals. I spaced out and veered into the next lane which brought on a blare of horns. I was so nervous I was shaking. I pulled over and parked at the first place I could find, stopped the car and rested my head on the steering wheel. It took me a minute to realize where I was. I was in a part of town I only knew from the news. It was where all the gang warfare, murders and muggings happened. I was in the parking lot of a row of seedy dance clubs.
If I could just rest for a minute, my head would clear and I could make the short drive home. I couldn’t relax and I couldn’t get the sound of those car horns out of my ears. I closed my eyes and tried to will some energy into my brain when I was startled by a knock on the window. I looked up and saw my brother.
I rolled down the window. “Oh, my God, I’m glad to see you. How did you find me?”
He reached in, unlocked the door and put his hand on my shoulder. It felt cold but soothing.
“What are you doing driving a car?”
I couldn’t explain, the words got stuck in my mouth. “Friend gave me lessons… I can… It’s just… I mean today… the horns…I don’t know.”
“Come on,” he said, then helped me out of the driver’s seat, and escorted me around to the passenger side. “Put on your seat belt.”
He got back in and started the car. “You really aren’t meant to drive. You’ve got a good life, but you’ve got to take it slow.”
“It’s just a bad day,” I said.
“It’s going to be a lot of bad days if you have a wreck. You’re always trying to be something your not. I can’t keep getting you out of trouble.”
I wanted to argue with him but couldn’t find the words, so I asked, “How’d you find me?”
“I had a gig over there and imagine my surprise to see you weaving your way off the road like some old drunk.”
“You had a gig? They like your music over there?”
“Something like that.”
By then, he pulled into my driveway. He turned to me and put his hand on my shoulder again. “Really now. Don’t drive any more. It’s not for you.”
From where his cool hand touched me, I felt warmth spread all through my body and I got so tired, I fell asleep right there in the car.
When I woke up, the sun was peeking through the car windows. I was still in the passenger seat and the keys were in my lap.
I rushed into the house, called my sister and told her everything that happened. I don’t think she believed me, but she came over in her car and picked me up. We went to florist and bought a huge bright bouquet. We spent the rest of the morning cleaning and decorating my brother’s grave.
I’ve always wondered why there weren’t more ghost stories where the ghosts were lovely to behold and helpful. We get so macabre, and we glorify the evil dead — but I have to say I’ve never had any problem from monsters or ghosts. It’s the humans that have been the evil bastards in my life — although I have been blessed to know many saintly humans, too. I hope you are blessed that way, too.
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think.