Thin and skeletal wrists protrude out of a jacket much too large for her and grasp the black leather bound around the thin driving wheel much too tightly. Eyelids heavy with sleep close for a moment and then open again, somehow even more like slits than before they closed.
A pre-made playlist from the browse section plays from Hannah’s phone. The playlist is called, “Have a Good Day!” The exclamation is for emphasis, as if a well-wisher wouldn’t have completed his job if he hadn’t added that specific punctuation to the playlist she specifically seeks out. Soft beats and strums of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” leak out of the sound system, filling her metal box sanctuary with the happy go lucky anthem. Her obsessively repetitive toe tapping attempts to follow the repetitive rhythm of the song but makes no progress in matching its relaxed beat.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s alright
The light changes back to ready and hopeful green, yet still Hannah does not move a toe. Honks and swerving pursue as angry cars with somewhere to be and somewhere to go get tired of dealing with her problems. They all leave without asking why she stays. They are only angry that she does stay. Finally, she accelerates and turns and keeps moving without so much as slowing down until she stops inside a diagonally painted box. An artificially lit green sign looms over the store’s parking lot. She goes into the store, but leaves just as quickly. They couldn’t help me, she reasons.
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Desperate to leave and return to the exclusivity of a book tucked behind blankets, she shifts to reverse and bends the wheel to get out of the tight space. A fraction of a second away from turning the wheel back to the direction she wants to go, another driver enters her life. He doesn’t see her sitting there in her silver car that was paid for by weekends of sacrificed time, suffering through a few measly dollars of tips. Honking ensues from the panicked young girl and the car behind her waiting for her spot, watching the miserable and panicked scene unfold. The man doesn’t heed her warning, and his car bumps the back of hers. It’s not catastrophic or earth shattering or any of the usual things that usually constitute an influential moment. It’s a bump.
The man with the growing white beard apologizes profusely, citing numerous excuses for his lack of looking to see that she was there. That she existed in that space at that time.
“It’s okay,” she lamented, forcing a smile to make the man feel better.
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
It’s All Right.
The moment is yet more proof that the moments that break people aren’t necessarily extraordinary or consequential or obviously influential. Hannah’s car is undented and pristine on its outside as she flees the scene of the mix-up, but its interior is breaking down, as are the lives of countless high school students across the nation confronted with interior disorders.