by Eric Poirier
Through the rain you can see my street. Lamp light mixed with the shower gives it a glistening orange glow. The street guides a queue of commuters in a single direction: out of town. In the dark of morning there is no “Hello” or “How are you?” or children laughing or dogs barking at nothing. There are only engines rumbling and tires swooshing and a light torrent tapping on hard surfaces. The rain tap, tap, taps on everything. There are no people on the sidewalks. They are all in their cars lined up on my street. Row houses on either side wall them in; towering and funnelling.
The lineup of cars parades past my house. I don’t want to leave today. Home is a tall, bricked three façade with two windows and a white garage door. The house too is glistening. It looks, through watery eyes, down at the queue of cars, never judging, just staring. My driveway is collecting pools of water. The rain is finding all the dips in the uneven pavement. Each tire of my van is swimming. The tires of my wife’s hatchback are not yet submerged. Both cars are gleaming in the orange rain light.
Leaving the house to cross our driveway is a long walk this morning. The rain touches, trickles and tickles. I am annoyed at the drops. My daughter chuckles at the tickling. Rain on her face is fun. She is difficult to hold with one arm as I toss my pockets for my keys. My wife is bringing her Skoda to life. I finally find my keys for the van, push the unlock button and watch the orange lights flicker and reflect off the pavement. My daughter challenges my abilities to buckle her into her child seat. A bus swooshes by and cuts the rain on the road. It sends a wave that reaches my feet.
My wife walks over to lean half inside the van and kiss our daughter on her forehead. The little one giggles as droplets from her mother’s glasses touch her cheek. Done with the baby, she pulls her upper body out and turns to me to peck me on the lips.
“See you at lunch,” she says, inaudible because of the noise from our street.
We jump into our vehicles. The tap, tap, tap of the rain on the roof is winning over all other sounds. My settling into the driver’s seat and my daughter baby talking in the back are no match. It takes me several minutes to bring the van to life. I want it to be dead today. The engine’s hum adds to the cacophony of noise. I wait and watch my wife in my rear-view attempt to pull out. A lull in the traffic is too short to convince my wife to leave. She continues to wait. I wish the queue could entrap us today. A longer lull allows her to roll out. Her headlights move away, swing out and disappear from my rear-view. She becomes part of the queue. Now it is my turn.
I pull the shifter down to R. The reverse alarm beeps once. I let the car coast to the end of the driveway, closer to my street and the queue; close enough for each passing commuter to cause a beep. Swoosh. Beep. Swoosh. Beep. Swoosh. Beep. I wait for my lull. It doesn’t come right away.
“Don’t come at all,” I pray.
Swoosh. Beep. The stream of headlights looks wavy through the passenger window. I stare at the queue, a solid line of light. In my periphery, my daughter kicks her feet and continues to chat.
A break occurs; my lull in the line. I leave my driveway and back into position on my street. The car behind me gets close to the van. It’s a subtle hint to get moving but the car in front of me is right there. I am now part of the queue. I have nowhere to go but forward. Nothing left to do but face the day.
I leave my home. In my rear view mirror, it disappears in the rain with the other row houses.
Copyright Eric Poirier 2013