The Taxi

Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 95

Photo by Dan Gold on UNSPLASH.

The instant I fastened my seatbelt in the backseat, I knew the rumors of an urban legend about a taxi were true. I heard the metallic click, but then there was a louder click from the door. Did the driver lock my door?

I look forward to my uber-driver. All I see is a black hoodie. The man hasn’t spoken yet, and now I’m hesitant about breaking the silence.

After several long seconds, the driver puts the car in gear, and we pull away from my apartment.

I slowly slide my hand to the door handle. I want out of this vehicle now. I grip the too-cool, cold metal handle in my right hand as my left hand finds the button on the seatbelt. My plan is as simple as it is foolhardy. I will release both the handle and the belt at the same time when he turns out of the parking lot. Then I will roll out of this vehicle Tom Cruise style.

The driver slows at the corner; I gently lift the handle in my right hand. Nothing, the door is locked.

The driver stops and raises his right hand, palm forward. He wags his index finger without turning to face me.

But it’s dark in here. And I didn’t make any noise. How could the driver have sensed my attempt to escape?

Am I seriously trying to escape from a taxi I had requested through the Uber app on my phone? I remind myself to breathe and settle in for the ride.

His hand and wrist had been so pale, so thin, it was like looking at a skeleton.

I pray the driver doesn’t turn to face me. I’m sure the hoodie is empty or filled with something much worse.

For years I’ve thought about trying the Uber thing out. Then, during my first ride, I’m being abducted?

What was it Jorge told me? Something about where the mystery taxi would take you?

The driver turns into a tiny neighborhood. I don’t recognize it. In my panic, I zoned out, and I have no idea where I am now.

He stops at a small bungalow. It’s a quaint, squat white brick house. It has charm, but I have not been here before; I would remember this place. As we pulled up to the home, I saw a large greenhouse sitting just a few yards east of the house. It’s not a small structure.

Whoever lives here embraces a minimalist, naturalistic mode of living.

Then I see it. The car. Her car, sitting under a carport on the far side of the house. It was an old car then, and I thought she would have sold it long ago. Apparently, she had not. It was prone to breaking down and displaying several status indicators, the function of each was an utter mystery to me, and it always made me nervous anytime I drove the thing.

I exhale. It feels so good. I wasn’t aware that I had been holding my breath. My anxiety about being in the mystery taxi is gone. In its place is new anxiety, about standing before L again, after all this time.

I need to tell her things. Things she won’t want to hear. My mind recalls her temper and her defensiveness, and I almost ask the taxi driver to take me home or someplace else, but then I remember that it’s not that kind of ride service. According to the urban legend, this taxi takes you to where you need to go, not to where you want to go.

I glance forward at the driver. He’s gone completely still. The engine is making some slight, ticking sound as it cools.

I’ve put this off for too long.

I place my hand on the handle. This time I hear it unlock as I push down. The door swings open as a cool breeze flows into the taxi.

I step from the car and go to meet my past.

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