The Commuter

A short story by Meg Sorick.

There were five of them in the car as far as I could tell. Three squished in the back seat and two up front. I could hear the music blasting through the open windows. They all were singing along. Only teenagers could be that happy stuck in rush hour traffic. Lucky dogs.

We inched forward a little and I thought back to the summer between my junior and senior year of college. I had two jobs —both part time, both of them waitressing gigs— but it hadn’t prevented me from going out every night of the week. All my friends were doing the same kind of thing —working our summer jobs, sharing cheap apartments, surviving on Ramen noodles and thrift store clothes, so we had beer money instead. It might possibly have been the happiest time of my life.

In the car in front of me, the song changed and the kids sang louder. The old Chevy positively shook as they danced in their seats. I sighed. Where had the years gone?

Finally, thirty minutes later, the log jam broke and traffic started moving. I changed lanes and passed the concert on wheels. Stealing a glance over, I saw a snapshot of the past. Five carefree souls not worrying about a thing. Just you wait, my little darlings. Life is about to smack you in the face. Student loans, credit scores, mortgages, car payments, insurance, utilities, taxes…

I pulled in the driveway an hour and fifteen minutes after I left work. This commute was killing me. As I dropped my keys on the hall table and kicked off my shoes, I smelled the scent of tomatoes and garlic wafting from the kitchen. I followed my nose. My husband looked up from the stove when I entered. “Hey,” he said with a smile. “Kiss the cook?”

I kissed him, but I was distracted by the scene on the television in the corner. The news was on.

“Accident on the Schuylkill. Quite a mess,” my husband said.

The scene on TV was shot from a circling news helicopter. A crash. Two exits before mine.

“Lucky you were past it already,” he said. “Or you’d have been even later.”

I recognized the old Chevy. Life is about to smack you in the face…

(Header image thanks to

37 thoughts on “The Commuter

    1. Thanks, Angela. Oh boy! Don’t panic! I was just thinking about how fast life can turn on a dime. But I purposefully left the details of the accident out – maybe the kids are all right and they just had a wake up call. Eep! 😳

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, I remember the feeling well. We could anything. It’s truly written so well, Meg. You captured the randomness of tragic turns.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Yeah, my oldest just turned 16. I’m scared shitless, to be honest. Gotta let ‘em fly though. And, man do I remember those days. Windows down, music thumping, going wherever and no cares in the world except for that Macroeconomics project that I’d been putting off. **sigh**


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah! Even schoolwork couldn’t ruin your day. Sunshine, your friends and the song on the radio was all you needed to be happy. PA recently upped the driving age to 17. I drove at 16 and probably would have fared a lot better with another year of maturity under my belt!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, our laws are different now too. They have a permit only for 180 days, then there’s restrictions on other non-family members under 18 until the driver is 18 themselves. They just threw me the keys and told me to fly. 😃

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so true. As youngsters, we were all carefree and somewhat reckless too. Our parents had worried about us then. Now we worry about our children. The cycle continues…. a nice story Meg. Wherever do you get your inspiration from?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Prema! I actually followed a group of kids in a car like the one in the story one nice day. Nothing bad happened though! That part I made up myself!


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