Diana was slightly lost on the way to the place where she bought her nuts. It was not a problem except that Diana was in kind of a hurry. She had to get home in time to pick up the books for the library and drop them off before picking up the leaflets from Fran for Ian before getting over to her daughter’s place to mind the baby. As if that wasn’t enough to do, Diana had the annoying feeling that there was something else that she couldn’t remember at that moment.
She must have turned too early. She was rolling down a street full of narrow terrace houses that she didn’t recognise. It had been a hell of a day already, with that bloody plumber trying to tell her that the hot water tank couldn’t be repaired. They said that about everything these days. Diana wasn’t falling for it.
If she turned left along here somewhere, she thought she would be back on track. She would have to get a second opinion on the tank. This reminded her that her GP wanted her to see a specialist. She should really google it, if she could recall the name of the thingy. She really didn’t have time for this nonsense.
She saw a hardware store and wondered if she needed something. Was that what was bothering her? But it wasn’t her usual hardware store. When she knew what was wrong with the water tank, she might need to visit to the hardware store, but then she would go to her usual one. Why would she go elsewhere? Hard enough to find things as it was.
A hell of a day. Diana was increasingly distressed by the birds. She had never known such noisy birds. She suspected that her neighbours encouraged them by eating on their back veranda. More and more birds. She would have to speak to them (the neighbours). They were too noisy (the birds). They (Diana and the neighbours) would have to come up with a plan.
Was she supposed to get something from that store? No, she would leave it. She had to get to the library to pick up books before picking up leaflets. Why had she come over here? It was certainly the long way round. Although, now she was over this way, perhaps she could pick up some nuts.
Ian was a good fellow, but Diana was not entirely satisfied with the campaign. She did not approve of the proposed freeway, but that was not the real issue. Fran, for instance, was only campaigning because she wanted the freeway moved away from her house. Not in my backyard! Let somebody else suffer the noise and the smog! Ian was genuine, but the real issue was not freeways at all, but the corruption of values that led to freeways — overdevelopment and the wrong priorities, poverty persisting alongside obscene wealth, the lack of real government, the ceaseless mayhem of more and more people.
What could you expect? When Nixon was lying his way to Watergate, there were three billion people in the world, and now there were seven billion, and Trump. What was hideous only became more so. It was the way of the world. What did they say? Hell is other people.
Diana made a turn, but it wasn’t the street she expected. An invisible membrane had shrouded everything in strangeness. She rolled along searching for a landmark. The war would get worse, Diana thought. Everything would get worse faster and faster until it simply crashed and smashed. Flood, famine, war, fire, drought and cannibalism.
Diana became a bit lost in contemplation of the world’s terrible descent into chaos. The next thing she knew she was on a highway, and that didn’t seem right. She knew she was in a hurry, so she couldn’t stop. She decided to forget about the library, and the other thing. She tried to remember what time she had to meet her daughter.
Somebody honked her. Apparently she was driving too slowly. Rude people accelerated around her car. Hell. Diana gripped the wheel and put her foot down. She was angry, but she wouldn’t give in. The traffic represented the world’s horrific descent.
What could she do about that, Diana asked herself. She was just one woman. She had always been strong, she had been right, she had been honest and open with people. She had raised her daughter, and now she had a granddaughter, and this was as it should be. She stood up for what she believed in. No-one who listened could be in any doubt what Diana believed. But no-one was listening. She spoke, but no-one heard. She was growing older. She did her very best not to weaken — for instance, she refused to panic during this momentary disorientation — and, yes, she was strong enough to admit that she was not as strong as she once was. That was not the problem.
A particularly lurid agglomeration of signs alerted Diana. She had been on this highway before. Why was she on it now? Something was fluttering at the edge of Diana’s consciousness. She wasn’t sure if it was merely a distraction or something that she was trying to remember.
The traffic gradually thinned as the highway went west, becoming calmer, and Diana calmed herself. Something would turn up to jog her memory. It would become clear why.
Diana drove on and, with each passing mile, left a little more of herself behind.
© 2018 Craig Bingham
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