The following piece was written for #rt14flashfic “Missed Connections” theme.

 

Red

“Get out of my way or I might shove!” All my angst releases in a glorious mess of off-key screaming as I belt L7’s anthem.

 Red flashes in my periphery, and it isn’t the red of brake lights in front of me or the red of my anger at the mess I’ve made of my life. It’s the red of the temperature gauge—the red that means smoke is about to start streaming from under the hood of my car. I turn my radio down, kill the AC and roll down my windows, allowing my inner sanctum to be breached by every stranger in every car on the road. Tilly, the car I’ve had since high school, is one of the few places I can be totally alone. No roommate, no co-workers, no parents.  Just me and my music and my freedom. I cherish these fleeting moments I can yell or cry or laugh with abandon.

 But as I open my windows, my peace is shattered. The wet muggy heat of August and the smell of engine fumes invade my space. The worst offender is the bass thumping from the giant truck in the next lane. His windows are down and his music is turned all the way up. The courtesy I’ve extended neighboring drivers is thrown back in my face by this asshole.

 Any anger purged from my system in my twenty-minute jam session has come back two-fold. I can’t see the driver, but all of my volatile energy has been reassigned. I have a target.

 The car ahead of me moves a couple feet, and I ease forward. I turn my head and narrow my eyes in anticipation. His hand taps on the steering wheel. His shaggy brown hair flops over his eyes as he nods his head on beat. He’s completely oblivious to the cars around him, as if having the windows down doesn’t change his peaceful world at all.  

 A pang of jealously rips through me. I’m always putting everyone’s happiness before my own, even on a packed freeway full of strangers.

 I reach for the volume knob before my courage leaves me and start singing. Hesitantly, at first, but by the chorus I’m unfettered, my voice rising up above the radio, out the window, and to the cloudless summer sky.

 All the red has left my vision. No more brake lights, no temperature gauge, no anger. I look over at my shaggy headed rescuer. This time I’ve broken his wall. He’s staring at me, a grin pulling at the edges of his lips. He’s turned down his stereo, and I watch his mouth move, but I can’t hear over the sound of my own music. The car behind me lays on its horn and I notice the lack of cars in front of me. I slip back into my old skin and hit the gas, leaving my savior behind.