Broken Down. Short Story.

“Fuck.” Sally pulled her car into the side of the road, the engine had been making a weird rattling sound all week, but she thought it would be fine until she could get it to a mechanic. Of course this would happen, why should she have expected anything else? The car juddered to a stop and she shut off the engine, she reached over to her bag and started digging around for her phone, knowing her luck she had forgotten it. After a few seconds she found it and pulled it out, no signal. Great. It had started drizzling a few minutes before and she didn’t have her jacket with her. The stretch of road she was on was long and lonely, she rarely passed another driver coming this way, it was probably the tall trees along the road blocking her signal. She opened the door and hopped out of the car, shivering as a breeze blew over her. The faster she made the call the faster she could get back into the still warm car. At least there was a blanket in the trunk to help keep her warm.

Sally walked quickly while looking at her phone, occasionally breaking out into a jog, she went further than she would have liked but there was nothing, the trees continued on without any breaks as far as she could remember, but as far as she knew they weren’t that thick on either side, maybe a few hundred feet and then there were fields. Sighing, she turned around and started back towards the car, this time she kept up the jogging until she got back. She hesitated for a second, wondering if perhaps she should get into the car to warm herself, but she didn’t, the faster she rang, the faster she would be rescued. She turned towards the woods and stared walking. She was careful as she went and the cold started to seep into her, the ground was too uneven and covered layers of mucky build-up. If she wasn’t careful she could easily twist her ankle. Finally she made it to the other side of the trees, as she stepped out a gust of wind hit her, stealing the last of her warmth, her fingers were starting to feel a bit numb. It had been stupid leaving the house without a good jacket, but then she wasn’t supposed to be spending time outside either, she had expected only a short trip to and from the car. Finally getting signal she rang for a tow truck and then rang James to let him know she was running late. He didn’t sound pleased but fuck him, there had been plenty of times he had been late and never bothered to let anyone know. She put her phone into her pocket and made her way back through the trees.

Reaching her car she grabbed the blanket out of the trunk and hopped in. She was shivering beneath the blanket but soon started to heat up. The light drizzle had gotten her wet, but not nearly as wet as she had expected, so that was something. As she waited she started to tally up the cost of everything, working out how much she’d need to scrap together to get out of this one. It was times like these where she regretted leaving home and the sizeable nest egg her parents had prepared for her. She knew she was better off without them, they wanted to micromanage her life to an unbearable degree, but sometimes that could be appealing too. Not having to think or worry, just do what you’re told and show up on time. Things had been easy then in their weird little bubble. Life was definitely better since leaving, there was more excitement, more freedom, but then there were times like now, where everything seemed to go wrong for no reason at all.

Every few minutes Sally checked her phone, they didn’t say when the tow truck would make it and she stupidly didn’t think to ask. The heating was on in the car now, she had turned on the battery reasoning that a tow was coming anyway, what did it matter if it went dead? The light smattering of rain became heavier, bouncing off her windshield, creating a steady rhythm. It was soothing, she leaned back, closed her eyes and took a deep breath, releasing it slowly.

Sally woke with a start, she didn’t know how long she had been asleep, she looked around expecting to see someone at her window, but there was no one there. It seemed darker out than before, but she wasn’t sure if it was due to the rainclouds or because the sun was setting. She couldn’t have been asleep for that long surely. She dug around for her phone, she pressed the button and nothing happened. Dead, had she charged it last night? She shook her head and looked at the digital clock in the car, but it was blank. The heating was off too. The car battery must have died. She shook her head, of course it would, hell the A/C stopping was probably what woke her. Sally stretched and yawned, as soon as she got a chance she’d shove a book into the glove compartment for times like these. The rain seemed to be dying off and the tow truck had to be arriving any minute. Her arms and legs felt stiff, she stretched again then opened the door, cold air flooding the car. She stepped out and jogged on the spot for a few seconds, she could hear a car in the distance, probably the truck. Smiling she got back into the car, wouldn’t be long now!

Don stopped the truck, there was the car, but where was the woman? He stepped out “Hello?”, maybe she’d gone into the woods for a piss, she’d been waiting a good while since her phone call. Of course that wasn’t his fault even though he’d get the blame, they needed to hire someone new, there was too much work since Brad left. He moved closer to the car, noticing the door was ajar. “Hello?” he felt a shiver run up his back, where had she gone? He glanced up and down the road, hoping to see her walking towards him but it was empty. He took a step forward and felt something crack beneath his foot, he stepped back and looked down, there was a smashed phone lying on the ground. He took a step back, no way was he going to touch anything, he’d seen enough TV to know when something wasn’t right. He got into his truck and radioed it in, he looked around again, hoping he wouldn’t be waiting long for someone to arrive.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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