by Mary Thompson

Are we there yet?

Daddy leans forward and twiddles the knob for the radio. There’s a hissing noise, then a violin, then a posh voice, then the hissing again.

‘Bloody hell,’ he says and opens his massive book.

My legs are all squished up and sore in the back. I count backwards from 500 and when I get to one I say, ‘are we there yet?’

‘No,’ says Daddy. ‘We have a very long way to go.’

Mummy reaches back and gives my sorest leg a squeeze.

‘Play that little game you like, darling,’ she says.

Animal – 5 points

So I take out my I-spy on a Car Journey book. There’s dark, then light, then dark again. In the dark bit, my pencil nib breaks and I can’t tick the box for Services Sign – 10 points.

On the next page is Animal – 5 points.

‘How the hell do you see an animal on a motorway?’ Daddy splutters, shaking with laughter.

‘Daddy, you can,’ says Rachel. ‘Loads of people have dogs.’

I gaze into the window of every passing car and eventually spot a fluffy head.

‘There’s a dog!’ I tick the box.

‘No, that’s a lady with a silly hairstyle,’ says Daddy and laughs again.

Car overtaking another car – 8 points

Mummy keeps saying she’s tired as she’s been driving for hours, but Daddy doesn’t reply just chortles occasionally and reads bits aloud from his book. Then a blue car zooms past us.

‘Speed up, woman,’ says Daddy. ‘We’ll never get to Cornwall at this rate.’

I tick the box and colour in one of the cars. In the other I draw three of us with big smiles but give Daddy an ugly moustache instead.

Road accident – 20 points

Daddy has got the violin music going again and it’s so loud the car is vibrating. I put my hands over my ears but I can still hear it. Then the car goes slower and slower till eventually it stops. I look round. There’s a long line of other cars behind us all lit up like Christmas tree lights.

‘Wow!’ I say.

‘We’re in for a long wait,’ says Daddy, so Mummy gets the flask of tea and chicken sandwiches from the boot. Mine has gristle in it, so I put it in my hand and hide it under the seat.

Unusual sighting – 50 points

We’ve just got to sleep again when there’s a terrible crash. It’s so loud that it wakes us all up, so Mummy indicates and parks on the hard shoulder, and Rachel and I stare through the back window to see the cars weaving around a suitcase in the middle lane.

Daddy yells and says lots of horrible things and Mummy starts crying.

‘I can’t drive any more,’ she says so Daddy says more horrible things and they change places.       

As he drives off, a huge white car hits the suitcase and it bursts open and all we can see are Daddy’s baggy Y-fronts dancing wildly in the headlights.

Mary Thompson lives in London, where she works as a freelance teacher. Her work has been shortlisted, longlisted and published in various journals and competitions including Flash 500, Fish Short Memoir, Writing Magazine, Retreat West, Reflex Fiction, the Drabble, Ellipsis Zine, the Cabinet of Heed, Spillwords, Memoir Mixtapes, the Fiction Pool and Marauder Literary Journal, and is forthcoming at Ink in Thirds and Firewords.