256 Words

What Did People Do?

M. Stanley Bubien

Our baby was still crying as I worked him into his car seat. "Honey! Let's go!" I called to my wife who'd disappeared in search of some forgotten, last minute---and did I mention unnecessary?---item.

"Be right down!"

Michael's howls drowned my reply, and I glanced at my watch impatiently: 9:15 pm! "What did people do before cars?" I mumbled to myself. Aloud I blurted, "hurry up! It's late!" as I wrestled Michael's kicking feet into a blanket.

"I'm right here," Lydia responded at my side.

Rolling my eyes, I yanked Michael's seat from the floor, causing a brief pause in his screams, and charged for the garage. Buckling car seat, cranking over engine, and speeding away---the elapsed time barely registered in seconds.

Michael had returned to his cries, but as we wound the onramp onto the highway, he snuffled. I clung the wheel as I accelerated to a constant---and slightly illegal---75 mph., but I began to notice that the rhythmic thrum of the engine. Michael was obviously fading, and after a few more whimpers on his part, finally, silence set in.

My grip loosened on the steering wheel. "He asleep?" I asked Lydia.

She leaned her chair back and adjusted his blanket. Righting herself, she sighed relief, but said, "drive a little longer---to be sure."

I let my ears take in the quiet like breathing fresh air. After a respite, I asked, "what did people do before cars?"

My wife glanced back at Michael, shook her head and chuckled. "Suffered, I guess."

Copyright ©1999 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

Please contact the editor for free text versions of this very short story formatted for e-mail, usenet news, or ftp.

Story Bytes


February, 1999
Issue #34

256 Words