My car is ancient. Only a Mini 1000 from the 60’s but still... I didn’t need this. I slam back into first gear on the slow lane, and gradually realise I am losing more and more power. I try the accelerator. Nothing. For a moment, I thought maybe it was misty, but I soon realise that the engine must have ignited. A black circle begins to burn on the bonnet, expanding quickly. Finally, I submit myself to the lay-by; my reaction should have been much quicker. The car whines to a halt, I tug on the door handle and it opens obligingly – thank God – and turn to grab my phone. I back away from the car towards a bus, a little upset. My Mini is going to burn in front of me. It’s not expensive, but you could say it’s a part of me.
I feel a little conspicuous, standing on the edge of the motorway like a fool in my pink trainers, jeans and New Look cami, watching the passengers stare at me as they drifted by. I’m not so slim and more functional than good looking. I don’t really care though, so I dial 999 into my Motorola.
I knew the process by now, and I answered their questions quickly yet clearly. I stand away from the Mini, gazing at the second hand ticking past the minute, again, and again, and again.
Eventually, I heard a single siren grow closer and closer.
I watch the burned out shell sidle away from me on the back of the pick-up, and consider calling for a taxi. Before I dial, I notice a shiny bus being boarded, and wonder if they can fit me in. I look up to where the driver should be, and sure enough, a friendly looking woman gestured that I could join them. I jog forward to the back of the queue.
Clambering on board, I begin to talk to the driver.
“Sorry about this, my Mini’s just burned up – do you mind?”
“Not at all. Please, join us. Oh... I... I think you should talk to one of the other passengers... There’s a bit of a story to tell. Don’t worry though, God, it’s all over now! I’m Beth, by the way. Everyone here kind of has a history...”
“Oh. I’m Liberty, then. Okay, well, thanks Beth, thanks for this!”
I edge down the bus, swinging off the vertical bars which bridge the floor and ceiling, and choose a seat beside a nervous looking man in the seventh row.
“Hi. I’m Liberty... Your driver asked me to ask you about what just happened.”
He smiled at me, yet I could see anxiety burning in his eyes. I wonder how much his red contacts cost.