Saturday, November 7, 2009

I have been away in the country for a few days and I’m driving my husband’s car, mindful the whole time that I must take good care of it. I park it by the side of the road near the hotel in which I’m staying.

It is nearly time to go home. I am now inside the hotel packing to leave. I am having trouble fitting all my belongings into my suitcase. Somehow I have been left with other people’s stuff, bulky jumpers and scarves that one of my companions, a woman has decided not to pack into her own suitcase. In the bathroom I find signs of my husband’s left over toiletries. I wonder whether I should pack these, too, but I can barely find room in my own case for all my stuff.

Instinctively I know there is something amiss with my husband’s car. I go outside to see it careering down the road driverless. I have been aware of this, that in certain unpredictable circumstances the car can take off by itself. Still, I wonder whether one of my daughters has played with the ignition and accidentally started it. I chase after the car hoping to reach it somehow and then stop it, even though I know this impossible. The car turns a corner and is out of sight. I call out to some men in a field nearby and ask for their help. We race across the field in the hope that we might cut the car off, assuming it continues to follow the road.

Under a row of eucalypts on the other side of the field we watch as cars rush past. I cannot see my husband’s car and wonder whether it has already crashed.

And there it is, worse for wear, the whole side panel bashed in, the front crumpled. It looks as though it is running out of puff now. It leaves the road and rides up into an embankment where it collides with a row of small bushes. I imagine that we might be able to fix it but I will need to tell my husband first.

Then I am at an exhibition of racing cars. A small child, perhaps one of my daughters, sits inside the cockpit of one of these cars. It is a toy car with metal pedals inside, the sort that existed when I was a child. The little girl is trying to work out how to get the car going. People mill about to watch. All seems calm and yet I sense at any moment this car too might suddenly spring to life of its own accord and take the girl with it.

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