27th October

A Dream of Anxieties

I was sweeping around the wheels of a parked car with a stiff yard brush. I didn’t know why. The car wasn’t mine and sweeping the road wasn’t my job. Then this second car drove up, reverse-parked and hit the back of the first one. I think in the motor trade they call it a bump but this was more like a crumple. The first car kind of scrunched up and its rear windscreen shattered.

I stopped sweeping. The driver of the second car jumped out. He said, ‘What happened? Did you see what happened?’

‘You crashed,’ I said. ‘You’ve made a hell of a mess.’

‘Don’t be angry,’ he said. ‘It was totally my fault. I’ll pay for the repairs. Just name your price.’

I know that when you’re involved in a motor accident you’re not supposed to admit liability. This fellow just had. He also seemed to think it was my car he’d hit.

I considered his offer. We could go to the nearest cash machine to collect the money and then I could catch a bus to somewhere else. But would I take the brush with me or abandon it?

When I’m anxious I want to sneeze. I reached into a pocket for my handkerchief, and found a car key. Now I remembered that I was supposed to be looking after the first car for a friend and he’d given me the key, and I’d taken the car round the block and parked it, so maybe I’d parked it where I shouldn’t have and that was why this other driver had reversed into it.

‘Who the hell parked it there anyway?’ he said, right on cue. And I saw double yellow lines on the road, just where that car was and nowhere else, and I realised I’d been trying to sweep them away with the yard brush, so I was to blame.

‘Don’t be angry,’ I said. ‘It was totally my fault. I’ll pay for the repairs. Just name your price.’

But his car wasn’t even scratched. It was my friend’s car that was smashed up. And although I couldn’t remember who my friend was, I knew I was afraid of him.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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