Long Drive

Childs Way was longer than I remembered. Its neat white lines seemed to stretch further away as the signs for the M1 appeared. Either that, or my car got slower. But I was keeping pace with everything else so that couldn’t have been the case. Roads don’t stretch… But they do rise. Near the Coachway the H6 climbs to a roundabout straddling the motorway. I pressed the indicator as I approached and stopped at the give-way marks. Vehicles came incessantly from all angles. Then came a break in the traffic. I swallowed down my apprehension and the car rolled across the broken lines. I steered towards the entry slip, though my arms felt like jelly, and joined the motorway. It was vast. The third lane felt far away. Gravel and stone particles of tarmac were like beachballs on sand to me. White fingers gripped the wheel. On my first driving lesson my t-shirt turned wet with sweat while the speedometer hovered around thirty. On the motorway I gained 20mph, but the dampness still remained. I got into a rhythm with nothing in my way until past Northampton. An old Marina’s serene speed presented me with a dilemma. I was closing on it and knew I had two choices: Should I stay behind it, or overtake? Overtake on a motorway! A queue of vehicles passed over my right shoulder. That decision was made by a truck coming up behind me. I was boxed in and couldn’t see beyond the lorry. We both indicated. But other vehicles kept overtaking us. The Marina plodded on. The lorry driver flashed his lights. I took his cue and a big chance. I swung into the middle lane. The truck followed. I could see its grill in my rearview. My right foot hit the floor. The speedometer hit seventy. And the Marina passed into the past. Into the future I sped until Leicester Forest Services.
I took a break at Leicester Forest, a service station that lives long in my memory – there’s a football story attached to it! I stopped partly to relax and partly because spray from the road was depositing dirt on my windscreen. My washer-spray decided to work only on one side: the passenger’s! So I had to get out and clean the windscreen myself. With clear glass and a coffee imbibed, I set off on the final leg of my journey. A barrier had been breached and the M1 held no more fear for me. My next test would be after Junction 37. But what was I doing? That question I asked myself all the way. I could’ve got the train. In fact I should have. My then girlfriend implored me to pack a bag or two and go to Milton Keynes Central Station. As much as I love trains, the thought of lugging luggage through Sheffield to Barnsley and then getting the bus… No. I hadn’t passed my test, but I had to risk it. If I got caught or had an accident, I would’ve been in serious trouble. But I couldn’t leave my car at home for months while I studied 150 miles away. So I drove to The Northern College. My destination was located in Wentworth Castle, which sat on a steep hill. Turning left off the exit slip on Junction 37 the road takes you through Dodworth. A left off the Barnsley Road towards Gilroyd should take you to Stainborough, and then the run up the hill. However, I missed the turn to Gilroyd and found myself heading to Barnsley. A neat manoeuvre in someone’s drive turned me round and I picked up the sign that told me where to turn. I passed Gilroyd and Stainborough, and started up the hill. I was nearly there. I could almost feel the rest and relaxation! The driveway to the Castle began on a steep left turn and what no-one had told me was the day I arrived there was a garden open-day. A traffic jam barred my way as I turned in and faced the rear-end of a Landrover. I slammed on my brakes stopping on a shilling – that’s inflation for you! I held my car in clutch control at 30 degrees. The way then cleared seconds later and I followed the road down to a car park, and the next chapter in my life as a competent driver.

About malekmontag

I am a writer and a wage-slave, and proud father of George Giraffe. I live in the UK, but I exist everywhere. My first stories were published this year (2016) in Short Stories and Tall Tales (Atla Publishing). Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag15. My Work is also available on Niume.com.
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