Autopilot

Gavin thoughtlessly picked on the bandages around his right arm.

“I’ve done this job for so many years, but I never experienced something like this.”

He used his left hand to brush the light brown hair out of his face.

“I’m sorry if I’m rambling random stuff. I just can’t get her face out of my head. Whenever I close my eyes, or whenever I lie down to sleep I only see her, staring at me with this anger. This strange woman, I mean, I know she is dead, but why do I need to keep seeing her face? It’s as if she’s haunting me.”

Gavin took a deep breath.

“I have been training and tutoring since I was sixteen. In the evenings I taught English and biology, and on the weekend I taught rugby. Both of it was in this poor neighborhood. The area had quite a bad reputation with drugs and gangs, and I heard a lot about abductions and murders and carjacking there.”

He forced a smile.

“I’m quite big, I know. But still I never felt comfortable there. If anything I thought that my size made me even more obvious, more of a target. I just knew I was out of place. After my last student I usually basically ran to my car. And the moment I got inside I locked the doors and drove off as quickly as I could.”

Gavin shook his head.

“I did that so many times. At some point it wasn’t even the fear anymore, it was nearly automatic. I ran out of the house, unlocked the car and jumped in. It wasn’t something I thought about.”

“But that evening I got out later than usual. My student had a test and wanted me to stay longer. As a private teacher that’s not really a request, it’s more of an order – if you don’t comply they will quickly find somebody else. So I stayed longer, nearly until 11pm. And right away when I ran to my car something felt off.”

Gavin scratched his arms.

“It was as if the street was different from what I remembered. And the car itself seemed different, maybe more dirty than usual. I literally ran inside, threw my bag into the back and locked the door. And only then I noticed the woman sitting in the passenger seat, with this crazy look in her eyes.”

“She had something in her hand. It really looked like a weapon, maybe a bomb or something, and she was shouting at me in this angry language, it sounded like Arabic or something. I was terrified and I just didn’t know what to do, and so I started the engine and drove off. I didn’t even think about how small she was, she seemed so angry and I didn’t dare to question her. She kept gesturing towards the sides of the street and whenever she did I looked for the next street and took a turn.”

“But this woman was crazy. I mean, I don’t know what she wanted, no matter how much I complied with her orders she kept getting more and more aggravated, and then she even started hitting me. She hit first my arms, straight with her fingernails into my flesh. I pushed her back, but I was still driving and couldn’t keep her to the side, so that somehow made her even madder and she hit me only harder and was trying to scratch and hit my face.”

Gavin rubbed his knuckles.

“I don’t know what came over me. It was more like instinct, like, you know, self-defense. I just hit her straight in the face. I didn’t even think of it; I just hit her and moved the car to the right of the road to hold her back. But she got only more furious, and she kept shouting something about Allah and she kept lashing out at me, it was as if she was trying to stab my eyes. And so I hit her again, two, three, four more times, until she stopped moving.”

“And only then, when I saw her lying there, with her head against the window, while I was fumbling for my mobile phone to call the police, I looked in the back mirror and saw the two small children. They were just sitting there, frozen in place, staring at me.”

“They didn’t say a word. But then I looked around, for the first time I really looked around; and only then I realized that it was the same model, even the same color, but there were stickers on the window and a small dancing Elvis on the dashboard and the stereo didn’t look like mine. It looked like mine; it wasn’t my car. I really didn’t want to kill her. It was just my brain running on autopilot.”


This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.

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