Frankie only had two regrets in life: 1) Her entire dating history and 2) The fact that she never learned to drive when she turned 17. Instead of complaining and then putting it off like everything else in her life, she decided there was no time like the present to prepare for life on the open road. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before she realised that the nerves in her life also ended up in the passenger seat instead of the boot. She didn’t worry about normal things like crashing the car, instead she worried about whether the conversation would be awkward with the driving instructor, or if she would be spotted by some familiar faces in town as she failed to grasp the rules of a roundabout. Few things came naturally to her, driving being one of them.
After completing a few lessons, causing possible damage to the clutch and gear stick with her heavy movements, the odd breakdown to her dad and a mini row with her instructor, she decided it would be the perfect time to master winding country roads with her mum in the car. A problem with this was the chunky nature of the car – it didn’t move smoothly or with ease, in fact, for the new driver it was like trying to drag a crate of watermelons across a beach.
Frankie made her first attempt at driving to visit someone. This person was her nan because she had relatives over who they needed to see, but also because she could slide into the parking space outside the front door without needing to do anything fancy, like, er, you know, reverse. Looking out of the car after the successful arrival, Frankie’s beaming grin was met by two little pairs of glasses peering at her over the fence – her nan and nan’s sister. “Put the kettle on!” she shouted out the window, trying to be positive while turning to her mum to mutter “I’ll have to climb over your seat, I’ve trapped myself in by parking too close to the bloody fence!”
An hour of catch-ups and tea was shared, Frankie’s nerves heightening about the journey home with the growing sugar rush from each custard cream. When the clock struck 4, it was time to leave and to begin the overthinking progress – Keys, clutch, accelerator? Reaching the bite? First gear? She tried to climb over the passenger seat as glamorously as possible, winding down her window for the usual goodbye chat with her nan at the gate. This would definitely be the case today since they hadn’t seen their relatives in over a year, or so the whole family thought.
As her nan was in mid-rant about the tragic death of her yellow roses and beginning to explain how the foil hanging over her front door had a valid purpose to distract birds rather than just making her look like the quirky, local elderly lady she is, Frankie decided to start the car. She had watched her mum do this many times, starting the car up and finishing the chat before smoothly driving off into the sunset. Frankie thought she could mirror this, until it hit her that she hadn’t fully grasped how the car works yet. It was too late, as her nan’s sister began to start a new conversation, Frankie could feel the car start to roll from under her as she prepared to go. With that, she had no choice but to just go for it, probably leaving her nan nothing to see apart from a cloud of dust zooming down the road and a hand waving out the window. “Frankie, we were in the middle of a conversation?” exclaimed her mum. “I bloody know, but I’m not good at stopping and starting yet so when I started the car I just had to roll with it!” Laughter followed from both parties in the car, with her mum calling her nan to explain their dramatic getaway – “Are you halfway home by now?” joked her nan when she picked up the phone, of course this was followed by background laughter down the phone.
After this, driving took a back seat in Frankie’s life, but she knew she would be confidently flying down the road in a pink beetle and oversized sunnies someday, even if someday wasn’t very visible in her future just yet.