The brake lights on the white Nissan Sentra in front of him turned on, and Peter cautiously stepped on the brake pedal of his car. His Honda City came to a slow stop three cars away from the intersection as the traffic lights turned red on their street. Kalayaan avenue has surprisingly light traffic today, he reckoned to himself, as he checked his watch. It said 7:23 in the morning; twenty minutes had passed since he made the last turn going out of their village. It usually takes him 30 to get where he is now, at the corner of C5. A swarm of motorcycles pass him on both sides as they jockey for position in front of the stopped traffic. He was never fond of cycles, and shook his head as he watched more and more motorcycles pass him by. He thought that the lights stayed at red longer today than it did yesterday, and was suspecting that the day before the lights turned faster. Anything to amuse himself, he thought.
Peter took time to check his phone; perhaps a message or two would be there. None. Oh well, some days you get them, some days you don’t, he held this thought to himself. He thought of composing a message, if only to solicit a reply. He hesitated, and glanced at his wife asleep on the passenger seat next to him.
The cross traffic halted, and the lights on Peter’s street turned green. He shifted to first gear, slowly released the clutch pedal, and honked impatiently at the Nissan in front of him as he stepped on the pedal.
Michelle felt her seat shake a little, even shuddered, but decided that it wasn’t an earthquake. She was firmly aware of where she was, and from behind closed eyes she could make out the ghostly appearance of the large familiar billboard. She shifted in her seat, leaned some more on the glass pane of the passenger seat. Her seatbelt was pulling tightly on her chest, as if adding more pressure against her heavy breaths.
With much anticipation for getting out of that car, maybe because she felt uncomfortable sitting in such a confining space, or maybe because she just felt the air outside would be more comforting, Michelle looked out the window, her face hidden from her husband’s view. She watched as a white Nissan made a sudden right turn, and thought the driver was in the same hurry as her. She imagined that she was on that car, on the controls, and making that swerve.
Michelle pretended to sleep. Her husband was turning the radio stations, perhaps looking for a song familiar to him. She listened closely, trying to guess each station’s songs by the few tunes that she would hear. For some, she uttered dislikes, for most, she secretly wished her husband would hold the station longer. The station that her husband picked crooned, “…no matter what I do, it’s just a lifetime to live through…”
Michelle felt like Kalayaan Avenue was an endless road.
The seeming endless chatter of the radio’s more than opinionated DJ’s seem to bore Peter, so he decided to turn the dial. He didn’t really know which station to listen to, but just a station with more music, and less talk. He turned and turned until he found a song he never thought he’d like. Today was full of surprises, so he let himself listen. “…I try to smile so the hurt won’t show…”, sings the radio.
In his head, Peter reviewed his schedule for the day. He can never get it right the first time. Either there are cancellations, or a sudden change in plans would force him to move one appointment a few hours back, or totally forget to attend to them. Even in his mind, he was not certain of the day’s schedule so he reminded himself to check his planner at the next intersection. He wished that this time, the lights would stay red longer.
Peter stopped the City a few inches away from the zebra crossing. He watched for a moment as several people crossed in front of him. His wife was still motionless, and Peter decided against making a remark. He preferred to keep her asleep. She’s a lot peaceful that way. He reached in the backseat for his planner, careful not to rock the car so much so that his wife won’t wake. He looked for today’s page, and was surprised to see the item at 11:30 - Lunch with Michelle. Peter glanced at his wife, and a sly grin was pasted on his face.