The unfamiliar sound of Mario’s indicator as I turn left at the mini roundabout at the end of our road. Click click, click click. Metallic but oddly comforting. This is Mario’s maiden voyage on a so routine, 10-minute road trip to my parent’s house.
A well-worn third of a turn of the steering wheel to the left, followed by a routine gear shift from second to third, to make steady progress up the slight gradient towards the traffic lights that separate a small collection of local shops. Then, with the fortune of a green light, Mario goes straight on, and I make a nonchalant glance at the oncoming traffic in case of someone’s unexpected decision to turn right in front of my right of way.
Mario cruises up the hill, taking naturally to this habitual road routine.
At the next left turn, I make only a cursory glance to my right towards the potential oncoming traffic. I know, I just know, that, nine times out of ten, I can turn left and accelerate without any opposition from the right. After all, these are slow, suburban S10 roads. And its only early afternoon on a Friday – no need for other road users to make haste.
Almost every school day Friday, I’d make this same, routine journey to pick Izzy up from my mum and dad’s, who had in-turn routinely picked her up from school and taken her back to theirs. Here at granmas, from single digit primary to double digit aspiring teen, Izzy would play Monopoly with my mum until she won and have my dad blow raspberries into her neck to make her squeal with delight.
Today though, I take this well-trodden path for the first time in Izzy’s Mario, not to pick Izzy up but to break the awful, unspeakable news.
Today, I change gears in the same familiar places, I accelerate, turn the wheel left, then right, then left, then right. I take the same short cuts, the same side streets I’ve taken for years.
But today, I need to do it with haste. I need to do this right now because the clock is ticking. I know my mum spends her days looking at the world from her iPad seeing its comings and goings from the BBC homepage. And I’m in a race with global news operations. I simply have to be there to tell her myself, so she doesn’t get to know from the Internet.
Finally, the last right turn and I indicate to pull up onto the curb in front my parents’ driveway. I turn off Mario’s engine. I take the key out. I reach for the door handle and step out onto the tarmac. I press the key to lock the car.
I walk up to my parent’s front door and go straight in without ringing the bell.