Stuck in the Fast Lane

1 Conversation

I hate car journeys. It wouldn't be so bad if we lived in somewhere that is somewhere like London, where there's lots of scenery to look at and somewhere interesting almost round every bend; But we live in the middle of nowhere, miles from civilisation. Our own village doesn't count. Their idea of civilisation is anything that isn't likely to interest anybody else. Like our neighbour-he's into his fifties and seems to disregard the house and spend his life in the garden with a leaky old watering can for company. Every time we wave hello to him he says "Hello, just doing a spot of watering", as if we couldn't guess, and it's something he never does usually. Mum says he's just lonely, and it's not surprising since he's lived alone for almost ten years. Dad says he's a batty old soak and if he would be so upset that his wife would die, he shouldn't have married at all. God, he thinks he's so funny! I sort of know what Mum means- I was meant to go to the cinema with Joe today, but I got dragged away to see Gran.

She lives right over the other side of the island, probably just to annoy us when we have to go driving up there to see how she is. Dad thinks just a phone call should be enough, but he can't understand why he hardly ever sees his own parents. I don't blame them, either. It's bad enough being his daughter through no choice of my own, but to know you were the one who brought about the existence of such an insensitive being must be enough to make you commit suicide. Anyway, Dad thinks it's enough to phone her up every month or so, but Mum phones twice a week, and rarely gets an answer. The problem is, Gran's going deaf and always seems to be out, either to one of her day trips with the other local old dears or round Maureen's house having a cup of tea. Maureen lives next door with her two cats and loves playing board games. Gran lets me join her when we go to visit her. They usually let me choose which one to play. I always go for Monopoly though, because they always try to make deals with one another and take it all so seriously. And they let me have Park Lane. Which is very helpful because I end up having to get hold of Mayfair on my own. For sweet old people they can put up a terrific fight. It's just so funny to see them trying so hard to get the purple cards so that they can drain the other players of their money. Last time, though, I changed tack: I went for all the orange and green cards, and built as many hotels as I could afford. I won. I actually felt a bit mean, seeing them give me all their money, even though they admitted defeat quite happily. I know it's only a game but it was like taking a lolly from a baby. I felt especially bad as Gran has been mugged in the past. She doesn't like to mention it.

But I still wish I was with Joe today. We hardly ever see each other out of school now his exams are so close. We used to go to the cinema or to his house or mine. In the summer we go to the park, walking hand-in-hand among the young mums pushing prams, yelling kids and other teenagers trying to look like they're only there because there's nowhere else to go. Now all he ever does is work. I know this is going to be me next year but it still isn't much fun. Last time I went over there his house was covered in these stupid bits of paper, with equations on them and dopey tips like: "Enzymes don't die, they become denatured (change shape)". It's ridiculous! I can't even have a proper conversation with him, because even when he's not looking at his books I can see numbers and cell diagrams in his eyes.

Road signs drive me mad. Ten minutes ago we passed one saying we were 52 miles away, now we've just gone past one saying that we're 49 miles away. This journey is crawling by. And I don't see what Mum's so worried about- crashing into the lorry in front of us and getting hurt would almost be a relief. At least we'd get out of this lump of metal and spend a remotely interesting day out in a hospital.

"Yes thanks, Mum."
No, Mum, I am not all right. I have been kidnapped by my own parents and in just over an hour's time I am going to be bored to death by a cup of milky tea and a lecture on what Mum was like as a little girl, and how unlike her I am, while Dad shakes with silent laughter. I'm not like my Mum because I strongly resemble Dad, as Mum frequently reminds me. Crossly. I wish people would just stop blaming me for being me. It's not my fault I exist, for God's sake.
The mobile's ringing.
"Hello? Yes? Oh, hello, Maureen! How are you? Good-sorry? Yes, just under an hour now. Really? Monopoly? Yes," She said, without looking at me. "Thankyou, I think she'd like that."

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