Daniel put his car in park and leaned back in the driver’s seat. He gazed out the window across the quiet street and bit his bottom lip. Should he leave? He thought about it. It wasn’t right for him to be there, but he was being pulled there by a greater force.
He reached forward and took the keys out of the ignition. He would sit there and pretend that he belonged there just like everyone else.
Daniel twisted his neck to the left and right. There was no one else around yet. He glanced at his wrist watch and groaned. He was fifteen minutes too early. Why couldn’t he have been that early before? Why couldn’t he be that early all the time? Then there was a chance he wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.
He made drumming sounds by patting his hands on his thighs and bopped his head from one side to the other side. He started whistling a fancy tune he came up with right on the spot before stopping abruptly with his lips still pursed together. His shoulders slumped and he cleared his throat almost as if he was embarrassed someone was watching.
What time was it again? He looked at his watch. Oh… ten more minutes.
Daniel looked around his car and scrunched up his face in disgust. He hadn’t realized what a mess his car was until now. He wasn’t about to get out and start cleaning, though. He would have to wait until he got home because he didn’t have anything left to do now.
He was going to finally have time to clean his car because work was one less thing he needed to worry about. Sure, he wouldn’t be getting a paycheck each week, but at least he could spend those work hours working on home projects that he’s always wanted to get done. Everyone was always telling him to look on the bright side of things… the counted, didn’t it?
Using his right hand, Daniel brushed off a few papers and food crumbs from the passenger seat. No one was getting in his car, but if people walked by he wanted them to see a clean car at first glance. So, on the floor it went.
He then noticed a brown paper bag sitting beside him. He picked it up and grunted at its weight. Without opening it, Daniel knew what was inside. He shook the bag and listened as liquid swished around on the inside.
He shook his head putting the bag back down on the seat. He wasn’t supposed to have that in his car. He must have missed that one when he was cleaning out his stash. He looked out the window trying to get his mind off of it. He was going to have to remember to pour it down the drain when he got home.
Other cars were beginning to park around him now. The rush was coming and time was running out. Daniel sat up straight in his seat and turned the car back on. He wanted to be able to make a quick getaway just in case. He hoped no one saw him; that no one would recognize him.
A bell rang and Daniel stiffened. Children began to pour out of the school building and his eyes frantically searched for his two daughters. As he scanned his surroundings, he came across a tall woman standing outside her car. She smiled and waved to two young girls, who were quite happy to see her. One ran and jumped into her arms as the older one lagged behind carrying both backpacks.
Daniel smiled at the sight.
The two girls and their mother got into the car. With the crossing guard’s thumbs-up, the minivan pulled off from the curb and drove away.
Daniel frowned once the van was out of sight. He hadn’t seen his daughters or his ex-wife since the court date. He didn’t know when he was going to get the chance to see them again.
Without thinking, Daniel took a swig of the paper bag next to him and then drove out of the school zone.