2nd The Event

The Event

Geoff looked down at his take-away coffee, sitting obediently in the cupholder. He had forgotten the reusable, stainless-steel mug that Mel had gotten him last Autumn, the week before they broke up. Well, took a break. The break had lasted passed Christmas.

The traffic on the Westway was crawling in respect of rush hour. An homage of taillights and blinking indicators. Geoff drummed on the ten-two of the steering wheel he gripped with tensed arms. He was still wearing his work jacket, that he usually took off for the drive home. He thought about detouring to the gym. He could take the next exit for The Ocean Club. The last meeting of the day interrupted his thoughts. He’d put his cocksure intern in his place. You can learn it but you gotta’ earn it. He’d left the guy with some dignity but made sure he knew what he was up against. Geoff smiled crookedly to himself. The radio was blaring some drivetime beat from the 90’s before announcing the news. The headlines, followed by…’ but first, breaking news from Hawaii…’ Geoff turned the volume down and hit the call button on the hands-free. He checked himself in the rearview mirror while the phone chimed happily around the Audi’s interior. He thought he was wearing age quite well. A few greys to his facial hair added character. He glanced over to the Honda next to him. In the fading light of day, he could make out the driver, digging at his nose and examining it. Geoff looked away in disgust. His Moms voice cut in, sounding loud in the small space.


‘Hi, it’s me. How’s he doing?’

‘Oh, he’s OK. He didn’t have the best night but he’s resting easy now. He said you were here last night sitting at his bed side. I think that was the morphine talking, you know. He’s OK.’ She sounded stoic.

‘How you doing Mom? You need me to come earlier, I was planning on coming up on the weekend, but I can skip Friday?’

’What’s that noise? Geoff?

An insistent sound was rising all around him.

‘It’s… on the radio, I’ll call you back.’ He hung up.

Geoff turned up the radio. The noise of sirens was indeed coming from the device. It was also invading from outside. It rose, screamed and waned, to rise again. Geoff looked around, wide-eyed, turning in his seat to look around at the surrounding cars. The familiar pattern of rush hour was morphing. The lights were being distorted by a new rain, splattering Geoff’s windshield. The orderly lines moved unnaturally. Horns were beeping. A rising wave of yelling was accompanying the cacophony of beeps and sirens. People were running past his car. The radio was announcing something.

‘…imminent. Get to higher ground. This is not a drill. Alert. Alert. Tsunami imminent…’

The sudden commotion was briefly dulled. All Geoff could hear was the loud, pounding beats of his heart, echoing around his skull. His breath quickened. There was the subtle feeling of his seat moving under him. The car veered to the right as if levitating, water lapped at his expensive shoes. He tutted and swore at the insult. New, expensive shoes; ruined! He returned to the moment with a jolt as his car collided with others. The sirens seemed louder and were joined with an unnatural whooshing of water. His car was spinning and being pushed against clanging metal, which made unsettling sounds; scrapping, and screeching like fingernails dragged down a chalkboard.

Dizziness rose up as Geoff’s car was tossed about on the unseen wave. Pushed back in his seat one moment by an invisible hand, only to be yanked sideways the next. A memory snapped in, of his brothers pulling him in opposite directions as a small child, arguing whose team he was to be on, in some long-forgotten game. Water rushed into his car. Got to get out, got to get out. Now! The door wouldn’t budge, the electric window had shorted out and no elbow was strong enough to break it. More, cold, black water rushed in and swirled, around Geoff’s disappearing body. The car pitched and rolled unforgivingly.

Time abandoned him in that moment. It stood still. He saw his older siblings tickling and smiling at their new baby brother. Being spun like a helicopter by his strong father, both laughing. The broken arm after falling from the tree house. The lies he told his parents when he’d broken curfew. His first kiss, and a thousand other events rushing past.

He could have been kinder to his intern. He should have used his reusable mug more often. He wished he had fought harder for Mel’s love. He should be with his dying father – now. Not here. Shit!

Too late.

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