Fear of Driving
by Lauren Russell

On the roof of my phobia I meet a woman waiting for the bus. She worries she’ll be late for her O.C.D. support group and asks me, several times, if she has dropped her blue purse. She tells me I am a nurturer. I say, “Yes, I coddle my fears.”

Fear of harming others is a symptom of O.C.D. But you who think yourselves “normal” are the crazies here. Cars are weapons of mass destruction. When will we mobilize our counterterrorism funds against them?

I curse the drivers who pin me in with U-turns and sexual innuendos and the one who knocked me down and sped away while I lay prostrate on the ground. I loathe busy intersections without walk signs, transportation budget cuts, how I was born in a country where each morning the sun god drives his beamer across the sky.

Someone ran a red light and killed my grandparents at an intersection. A high school classmate died when her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel. Another killed four when he drove his Saab into an unarmed crowd, screaming “I am the angel of death!” (He successfully pleaded insanity, his parents having hired a first-rate attorney—valet parking only.)

I dream I am driving and I don’t know how to stop, don’t know how to turn, keep bracing myself for a crash, and wake with my pulse in car-chase mode.

In the cellar there’s a hole in the drywall with a brake pedal sticking through. Or is it an accelerator? When I push, the superstructure moves.

Packingtown Review – Vol.5, Fall 2013

Lauren Russell is the author of the chapbooks Dream-Clung, Gone (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2012) and The Empty-Handed Messenger (Goodbye Better, 2009). She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Pittsburghand will be the Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at The Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing for 2014-2015.

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