Short Story: Traffic Lights
I hope you’re all having a good week! I know I promised a DIY post, but I’m running a little late on that so, in the mean time, I thought I’d share one my own short stories with you guys. As some of you may know already (or have guessed from my rambling blog posts 😉 ), I’m an aspiring writer. The dream is to one day write a full length novel, but let’s just say I have attempted this task several times and I have rarely been successful in making it past Chapter 1. That being said, I have managed to write a few short stories, which seem to work better with my attention span of a five year old. Short stories are so interesting because you don’t have time to delve into character description or an elaborate plot line, it’s really about capturing a snippet of time that you find important.
Anyways, I hope you guys enjoy Traffic Lights, and let me know what you think of it in the comments below :).
I rested my head against the dusty glass, the soft hum of the engine making the window pane vibrate ever so slightly. The car seemed to drift lazily along the road, the speedometer’s needle wavering indecisively between 40 and 50 kmph. Some 90s one hit wonder was playing on the radio. The sound was fuzzy and I couldn’t make out the words. Still, it added a hint of atmosphere.
I gazed out at the less than picturesque scenery as we drove past. The dull grey of decade-old cement walls mimicked an overcast sky; the well-known backdrop to every suburban neighbourhood. Cracked pavements, bent bus-stop posts and graffiti-sprayed road signs all floated past. Here one moment, gone the next. The road was roughly patched up with a mishmash of monochrome tarmac. In the distance I saw a crane, towering over the city outskirts like a bizarre sort of monument.
I glanced out the window again and saw a plump woman with too much eye makeup walking with her son. On the way to school I supposed. The little boy was proudly carrying a spiderman backpack that was twice his size, excited to show it off to his best friend, Tim. His mother held his hand and scolded him. Probably telling him off for missing the school bus yet again. Now she was going to be late for work, second time this week. Her forehead creased in anger and I saw her lips move, but her voice was drowned out by sounds of distant traffic. Pity she wasn’t sitting where I was. Then she would have realised that her lecture was being completely ignored. Spider man was much more important than school buses, after all.
I turned left to look out the other window. A young man with short sandy blond hair and a half-zipped up jacket stood casually at the side of the road, holding out his thumb. I watched as car after car zoomed past, ignoring him. He pulled out his phone and pressed a few buttons. He frowned for a moment, then shrugged and put it back in his pocket. Dead battery no doubt, though this didn’t seem to bother him. An old guitar case, covered with faded stickers and lyrics written in Tippex, hung from his shoulder with a worn strap. Despite the evident lack of success in his hitchhiking endeavours, he seemed quite content and untroubled. Maybe he didn’t really have to go anywhere. Maybe he was just going for the hell of it. So he just stood there, relaxed, confident with an easy smile playing on his lips.
As we approached a crossroad, I saw a teenage girl, maybe sixteen or seventeen, with purple headphones waiting to cross the road. Her head was down in an attempt to remain unrecognisable. There really was nothing wrong with her grey and maroon uniform, but she’d never been a confident girl. I saw her occasionally mutter a few words under her breath… the lyrics of an Eminem song she was listening to on replay. Funny, she didn’t seem like the rap type. She subconsciously twirled what looked like a key ring, attached to the bottom of her schoolbag. A good luck charm, I guessed. A stupid superstition, but she had a lot on her mind.
Across the road from her was an elderly woman attempting to stop her three chiwawas from eating the cigarette butts that littered the sidewalk. She kept whacking the dogs with her umbrella and yelling at them. I half smiled. I couldn’t hear her, but I was willing to bet anything that she was warning them against the dangers of smoking. I suppose her children are all grown up now though, and they live in the city. Who else was left lecture?
The hum of the engine dimmed as the car came to a stop in front of a red traffic light. As we waited for the lights to change, I spied the mother and son I’d watched earlier turning a corner. The woman had given up on her lecture and was now listening with hidden amusement as her boy told her about the many exciting things one could do with a superhero backpack.
I smiled and turned, just in time to see a van pull up next to the guitar hitchhiker. The man looked around one last time before climbing into the passenger seat. The first step towards his new life.
As a green man flashed and bleeped, I saw the teenage girl wearing headphones cross the road, passing the old lady and her dogs. As their paths crossed ways, their eyes met for just a second and they shared a small smile. Maybe that smile changed each of their lives just a little bit.
Then, the traffic lights changed. The car started to move again, the radio continued to buzz and, just like that, all those people were gone. That’s it, I’d never hear of them again. I’d probably forget this ever happened. They would too. Yet we’d shared just one small moment of our lives, together, all because of a red light.
But perhaps that’s what life is; crossroads and traffic lights.
‘Traffic Lights’ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.