By Ethan Nelson 3/17/2019
A woman older and a woman younger pulled up to the intersection in a tiny blue car, so small, in fact, that they filled the two seats comprising the vehicle. There was no trunk.
The older woman was at the steering wheel. She had her teeth clenched. The younger woman kept patting her on the shoulder and whispered to her words unheard to the world outside the tiny blue car.
Facing the car was a traffic light blaring out a cherry red from its bulbs. The red light had stayed on for the past minute, and from the young woman in the car could make out, what with all the cross-traffic streaming through in an almost-infinite chain of painted chrome, windows, bored faces, and exhaust, there was no reason to believe the light would soon change.
“Crap,” the young woman said.
The older woman, her mother, turned to her and asked, “If you’re going to speak to me, you’re going to need to talk louder.” Then, to herself, she added, “If you have anything good to say.”
“I’m just talking to myself,” the young woman said.
Cold rainclouds loomed ahead in the northern horizon. But if rain came, the young woman, her mother could always turn on the windshield wipers and that she would never have to feel the rain on her skin.
The red light lingered.
Neither mother nor daughter said anything for a few moments. The younger woman opened her mouth as if to say something, but no words came out. She kept her attention focused out the shotgun-side window and pretended to be fascinated by a sign advertising a funeral home.
Then the young woman’s attention perked up when she read the sign again and understood its meaning. She wondered if she could make a quick, discrete call to find out about prices for their plans.
The stoplight stayed red.