Continuation on a theme, first part of the story here. This one is trying to focus on the moment Brian leaves the car.
Brian stumbled from the front seat. His legs were cramped, remembering the foetal position they’d been tucked in for the past twenty four hours. Hugging his knees to his chest bolt upright in the faux leather surroundings. He had watched people try to approach the yellow tape, seen their bodies shudder with electricity on the ground. A sign had been put up, ‘please remain seated for your own safety’.
The wind slapped his face rebuking him for the time spent inside the car’s shiny, plastic womb. Someone had gone around letting the air out of the tyres, and emptying the tanks of petrol. The next morning the men stood around in groups arm patting, one sobbing at the damage to his car. A smaller group of women were swearing and one stood screaming, I need a cup of tea! I need a cup of tea! Then she fell quiet, her mouth still open, empty. Someone tapped on his window, right by his forehead. He didn’t make eye contact, but curled up. The tapping was a thin sound, penetrating the fog that surrounded him. But they left him alone, in the end. No one had tried to break the locked doors, smash in his windows. People still respected the space inside their cars. An old foam cup was his chamber pot; he emptied it out of the left hand passenger window secretively.
The bridge smelt of petrol, salt, the aftermath of rain. At nights there was a blackout, but for the yellow and orange lights of the city in the distance. In the beginning the cars had hummed all through the dark hours, small tents of metal under a smoke choked sky. His car was stuck one lane away from the railings. After the railings came the drop to water, restless and undulating. He had watched people consider the height, measuring their elevation, their apartness. The bulky vehicles held him tight as a row of semi-detached houses, steadying him. His phone was constantly by his burning ear, the right one, reading the book of people’s faces. You can read a person’s life in their choice of header image, their favourite quotes. He scrolled, his phone guiding him through the trajectory of others’ lives. Who needs novels, a paperback rotted beneath the cushiony seat he was settled in. He barely saw the first person take the jump, though the crowd gathering near his car caused him to twitch and caress the gear stick nervously. Once they’d dispersed, he began to crawl out of his head. Slowly, he put the car in third gear. The cool glass his cheek was pressed to had warmed to become part of his body. He peeled himself from the window, feeling the flesh seem to tear as it unstuck, a pore at a time.