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Give me a Brake

Story ID:5244
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
Year:2009
Person:Me
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I watched the car ahead and stayed a minimum of five car-lengths behind. My stomach was in a
knot. My fingers, white with tension, gripped the steering wheel. My fellow commuters and I sped
down the highway at fifty-five miles per hour –
too fast for a person in my condition.

“End Construction” the sign read. Our speed jumped to sixty-five. I matched the
traffic and increased the distance between myself and the car ahead to seven lengths.
Drivers in a hurry sped by. I stuck to the limit, obeying the law.

Brake lights appeared in my lane. I looked in the mirror and over my shoulder. No
one was in the other lane. I put on my blinker, moved to the left, and kept on going. A bead of
sweat trickled from my forehead and rolled down the right lens of my glasses.

My exit came into a view. With a sigh of relieve, I pulled over and merged onto
the street to home. The light down the hill turned red. Cars ahead slowed. My foot shifted
to the brake. I prayed. A growl, like the rumble deep in the chest of a dog when it’s afraid
someone will steal its bone, shook my car. I down shifted the automatic transmission
through the gears, and shuddered to a stop.

“Please, Lord! Get me home safe.” I prayed.

The light turned green. I drove home without incident. I looked up at the roof
inside my garage. “Thank you, Lord!”

The next morning, I pulled out of the garage, backed into the street, and braked. There was the
expected grinding and then the clank of metal striking pavement. I looked out my window. One of
my brake pads lay in the driveway. I was lucky it was payday and could finally afford to purchase
new pads, which I installed myself. The cost of a
mechanic was beyond my means.

That afternoon I pulled out of the driveway, drove down the street and touched
the brakes. The car came to a noiseless stop and my heart rate slowed.

For many months I felt so out of control. I’d get out of bed and immediately feel
ill with worry. On my drives to and from work, I was tense. My day was wasted worrying about the
drive home. I wouldn’t relax until I had the car in the garage. Later in the
evening, I’d begin worrying about the next day’s commute.

Since I fixed the problem, every time I apply my brakes, I relax and smile. A huge
weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I have control again.

Everyone has brake problems: i.e. financial, marital, and others. They worry you
from the moment you wake until you sleep again. They make our life commute a
nightmare. Like my brakes, they sometimes cannot be fixed right away. We have to wait
until we have the means to make repairs. Until then, we cringe and ride an uncomfortable
journey, but once we fix the problem, our commutes become enjoyable again.

My life is full of brake problems. The roads travelled have not always been easy
to stop on. There’s no backing up. I adjust to the flow, pray and wait for someone to give
me a “brake”.

Michael T. Smith