It’s dark. I’m driving, and you’re bickering with me again. Your mother lolls in the backseat. I’m not listening, only replying with non-committal responses when I hear a pause, when I hear permission. UhHuh. We’re driving through country roads. Your choice, not mine, though the reason for the drive no-one would choose. The rain is torrential, like your mouth. UhHuhhhh. This is like a carwash without the fun or the colour: just noise and water. My headlights are full-beam but struggling, and the country roads are twisting like your granddad’s arthritic fingers. It’s him we’re going to visit. He’s dying in a hospice. You’re upset, but you’re more upset that I’m not upset enough. You don’t understand that, after a sixteen-hour shift on the ward, I can’t feel much beyond tired, hungry, and sore. Ummmhmmm. Your mother is arguing with every instruction the satnav shares, tsk-tsking and tutting as if it can hear her, moaning at me for following it instead of her. I realise something new in all this noise: you’re both shouting at me, which means you’re not shouting at each other. It’s nice, in its own way. The thrum of the windscreen wipers, the squelchy creak from right to left and back again, is the only sound that filters through. I want to slam my brakes and scream and sleep. uhHUH. I keep driving because someone’s got to keep moving forwards. Something jumps into the road – a deer, a fox, a badger? Who knows? – I brake hard. The car slides-screeches-squeals then stills. No-one’s hurt. I know because silence is always the giveaway, and you’re both shrieking at me. We could’ve ended up in a ditch, we could’ve died. But we didn’t, and I don’t dare say it. I convince myself you’re both only like this because of what’s happening to him, because of the inevitable, but I know you’ve both always been this way. Like mother, like daughter. I breathe slowly, thinking about how many breaths I have left, how many beats a heart can take, how to make them count. I drive off because I have to keep moving forwards, and someday I will.
Paulaidan Minerva specializes in abstract, surreal, and strange art. One of his goals as an artist is to to create balanced, artificial randomness. Paulaidan prefers to let the audience make their own conclusions about the meaning of his work, whenever possible. Find more of his art on Instagram @pabloadan.