"Go on, don't be scared. Go for it!" I fingered the car key with trembling hands as my parents encouraged me from behind. "Go on, you know you want to." Yes, I did - I'd been longing to drive for years now, and finally I was old enough. The best birthday present I'd ever had was the receipt for twenty driving lessons. And yet I was afraid. I didn't want to go through with this.
The driving instructor looked friendly enough, and his stats were good, but he was much younger than I expected. He only looked about five years older than me, and I was a little nervous about entrusting myself to him on my first trip out in a car. "Are you sure it'll be all right?" I said, deliberately ambiguous so that I didn't offend him. I don't think he got what I meant - he thought I was worried about the car.
"It'll be fine. Don't worry so much." With another smile he opened the side door to let me in; I climbed into the driver's seat for the first time and slotted my seat belt into the right place. My parents were waving at me from the porch. I wished they'd just go away.
The driving instructor got in the other side and did up his own seatbelt. "Right. My name is Jon." I replied with my own name.
"Just El." There was no way I was going to tell him my real name on our first driving lesson. I hardly told anyone that. It was, well, embarrassing. Anyone would do the same if they were called Eilidh, wouldn't they? For goodness sake, it looks like 'eyelid'.
"Very well. El." He smirked slightly at the rhyme. "We won't be doing any driving just yet. I want you to point to the parts of the car and tell me what they're called." That didn't sound too hard, so I pointed to the wing mirror.
"Wing mirror." Moving on. "Windscreen wipers. Seats. Steering wheel. Bonnet."
Jon sighed. "That wasn't quite what I meant. What's this?" He pointed to one of the levers on the side of the steering wheel and I followed his finger. I didn't have a clue, and said so. It was the indicator or something, wasn't it? On the other hand, it might not have been. "It's the windscreen wipers," he told me. "The one on the other side is the indicator. Some cars have it the other way around. A Hyundai Getz is the other way, which is confusing."
I nodded, trying to pretend I knew what he was talking about. "Which pedal is which?" I said, trying to move on. After all, that was probably the most important thing about driving, wasn't it? If I didn't know which pedal to press down we'd all be screwed. "One of them's the brake. Another one is the accelerator. And the last one is the clutch."
"Well, you know that much, at least." Jon seemed to be writing me off as a hopeless case, after my failure to identify much more than the wheels. Carefully he undid his seatbelt and leaned over, pointing out each pedal and what it did slowly. "Go on, repeat that back to me." I did so. "Well done, we're getting somewhere. Are you ready to start driving?"
"No," I replied, and Jon smiled again.
"All right, hop out of that seat and we'll switch over. I'll drive for a bit and you tell me which buttons to press and which way to turn the wheel." That sounded quite easy, or so I thought, and I switched seats with him willingly enough. "Off we go!"
What I wasn't expecting was that after driving for less than five minutes we would find ourselves in completely unfamiliar territory. I knew all the area around, but I'd never seen these roads before, and all the while Jon was smiling and smiling and smiling ...