Skip to content

Flash Fiction

It’s Not Just the Battery

by Lori Harvill Moore

May 6, 2024

I’m stuck. Again.  And this time I’m dead stalled in the fast lane, which quickly forms my prison on I-10.  I can’t see the walls but I know they are closing in as each car exceeds the speed limit to my left, leaving behind a ghost of a doppler effect.  Through my rear-view mirror I watch a big rig slowing behind me, then it barely squeaks around, trying to melt into the flowing traffic like it’s any other day west of Tucson. For a few seconds while the truck stops beside me, I could have reached out of my dirty window and touched that driver’s door.  I don’t, though. I remain  glued to the  Nissan’s seat inside a useless conglomeration of metal and high grade plastic.   

“Mom?”  My daughter calls from her car seat, and my ears readjust to her tiny voice. My son stays sleeping in his smaller seat. My hands shake in my lap, and I double check that the emergency flashers are working. I can’t tell her that we are safe because I can’t lie.  “Start the car, mom,” she says. Now the shaking snakes up my arms and into my neck, beginning an internal earthquake.

 “I can’t, sweetie.”  I try to tone down the inevitable high pitched staccato sound of my voice.  I am not successful. The shaking moves into my chest, igniting a firestorm of anxiety, and down my legs, consuming the rest of the nerves previously untouched. Later I will question the psychological impact of this experience on my children.

“Are  you okay, mam?” An officer appears at my window. Will the man in blue save this little clan of a family?

“No, I’m trying to get to Phoenix,” I say. “It won’t start.”

“Is there someone I can call for you before I order a tow truck?  Your husband perhaps?”

“He’s the one I’m trying to leave,” I tell the officer.