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Driving Force

by PJ Martin 

Posted: 10 October 2004
Word Count: 1135
Summary: This short story has elements of truth within. Yes i used to live in a villiage one bus stop one post box one not very good pub and four roads ho yes and one village school with a total of 40 children in two classes. My home had a 200 foot garden with a water tower at the end disused.

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The wind whistled round the wooden structure of the bus stop,

as Margaret stood there waiting for the first one of the day.

Margaret shivered inside her coat, as she tried to shield herself.

The freezing air burned her lungs with every breath, as the frosty

pavement sparkled in the morning sunlight.

She shouldn’t be here she thought to herself. She should be

safely enclosed in a warm car being driven to work by Paul, her

husband of some 15 years. Due to Paul’s ill health he had become

a househusband while Margaret went out to work and supported

them both as well as their 14-year-old daughter Sara. This

arrangement suited them both as Margaret enjoyed her job, but

she wished Paul would do more at home than just sit in front of the

television all day. If only she could drive then she wouldn’t have to

rely on Paul at all. But every time she raised the subject he

laughed at her and said things like ‘You drive? Don’t be funny, you

couldn’t even push the buggy in a straight line!’.

He had always put her down.

At last the bus arrived, and she sat huddled on a seat looking out

at the passing countryside, dreaming of being from the bus

timetable restrictions.

Margaret couldn’t remember what had started the row last night.

But the end result was the same.

Paul drank, then became violent and started to threaten her again,

eventually passing out in a drunken stupor on the sofa.

while she went upstairs, to a lonely bed and cried herself to sleep.

Sara must have heard everything, but she never said anything.

All this meant that Paul was in no fit state to drive her to work this

Morning again, so here she was on the bus again.

Margaret had one close friend at work.

Sheila, who she could confide in.

It was Sheila, who suggested a different reason for Paul

not wanting her to drive. ‘Perhaps Paul is scared that if you

learn to drive you’ll be more independent and more likely to leave


‘I hadn’t thought of that’ Margaret replied.

The more Margaret pondered on what Sheila had said the more it

made sense to Paul’s extreme behaviour, every time she

mentioned learning to drive.

While at work one morning Margaret received a phone call from

the local hospital, saying that Paul had been admitted with a

severe asthma attack. He was kept in hospital for a week while his

asthma was brought under control and his medication changed.

For that week Margaret had to travel by bus, taxi or rely on

neighbours to get her to work, Sara to school, go shopping as well

as visiting Paul in hospital.

Margaret was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of

that week, and had come to the decision that she couldn’t go on

any longer without learning to drive. But needed to have secret

lessons during her lunch break, so Paul wouldn’t know.

She paid for them out of her Child Benefit, so he wouldn’t see any

regular payments leaving their bank account.

Sheila recommended a good drinking instructor and Margaret

started to enjoy her secret lessons.

It gave her something to look forward to every week as well as

making her feel stronger and more confident.

Paul was so wrapped up in his own world didn’t notice any change

in Margaret.

She would go to bed early so she could study the Highway Code in

readiness for her theory test, which she passed at the first attempt.

On the day of her driving test Margaret felt sick with nervous

apprehension and only told Sheila she was taking it. She didn’t

want to have to explain to everyone at work how she had failed.

But to her delight, she didn’t fail.

Even the thought of having to tell Paul her news couldn’t dampen

her spirits. Margaret arrived home from work and decided to cook

a special meal for Paul. Sara was upstairs doing her homework

after having tea at friends.

Margaret moved around the kitchen preparing the meal singing

quietly to her self, the television noise blared from the front room.

She poured a glass of wine for her self and opened a can of lager

for Paul.

After they had eaten and she felt Paul was in a good mood

Margaret quietly told him her news, trying to keep the excitement

that kept bubbling up within her under control.


He slammed his can on to the table spilling lager all over

the place.

‘What do you mean you’ve taken your driving test?’

‘After you were taken in to hospital, I started having driving


Margaret gripped the edge of the table as hard that her

knuckles turned white.

‘There are buses’

‘Oh Yes, almost non existed.’

‘Sara’s bike is in the shed, you could use that.’

‘last time I rode I was 15, you must be joking.

Paul pushed his chair back from the table and marched out of the


The next sound Margaret heard was the slamming of the

front door. That meant another evening Paul would spend in the

pub drinking.

Margaret dreaded the state he would return in and felt physically

frightened of what Paul might do to her on his return.

She decided it would be better if she and Sara were not in the

house when he got back, whatever time that might be. She quickly

packed a small bag and told Sara to do the same.

She called Sheila and asked if they could stay with her for a few

nights and called a taxi.

Not until she was at Sheila's did Margaret relax, she knew Paul

would be unable to get to them there.

When Sara had gone to bed and over a couple of bottles of wine

Margaret talked through her options with Sheila.

While loath to give up on her marriage Margaret did not want to put

Sara or herself in any more danger.

She had hoped for the last ten years that Paul would change but it

just hadn’t happened.

Now she could drive did she really need Paul anymore?

He was no help around the house and contributed nothing to the

household bills, he didn’t even help Sara with her homework.

Margaret decided that as she was almost 40 years old it was time

to re-evaluate her life.

She still had time to start again.

She was an independent woman and she would show Sara that it

was not necessary to have a man beside you to be successful and


‘Why didn’t I have the strength to learn to drive years ago,’

thought Margaret as she drifted off to sleep with a smile on her

lips and hope in her heart for the future.

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Comments by other Members

roger at 20:51 on 10 October 2004  Report this post
Hi Barry, this has the makings of a good story, the sort that women's mags like...a woman empowered, and the title's good too. But you do need to work a bit on structure and puntuation....the technicalities. One thing that did strike me a lot is that you tend to repeat words in quick succession, and it's best to look for alternatives when this happens - don't worry, though, that's something that all new writers tend to suffer from, me included! But a nice idea and, as I said, the sort of story women's mags seem to like.

A couple of typos -

* dreaming of being from the bus timetable restrictions - needs 'free' between 'being' and ''from'

* Paul was so wrapped up in his own world didn’t notice any change - needs 'that' after 'world'

* Sheila recommended a good drinking instructor and Margaret - I think you mean 'driving' instructor

Work on structure, grammar and punctuation (loads of booke on the subject) and I think you'll develop very well.

Good luck.

Dee at 21:05 on 10 October 2004  Report this post
PJ, I agree with Roger and I would also suggest you read some of his work for good examples of sharp writing.

Much of what you’ve written here is exposition – that is, you’re telling us what Margaret is feeling instead of showing us.

For instance:

While loath to give up on her marriage Margaret did not want to put Sara or herself in any more danger.
She had hoped for the last ten years that Paul would change but it just hadn’t happened.
Now she could drive did she really need Paul anymore?
He was no help around the house and contributed nothing to the household bills, he didn’t even help Sara with her homework.

All of this could be written as dialogue between Margaret and Sheila. That would show Margaret as a more developed character – and be far more interesting to read.

Hope this helps.


Bav Dav at 09:47 on 06 January 2005  Report this post
Hi PJ. This reads like a first draft, the narrative is there but you need to work on the bells and whistles. It's short on descriptions, this might be porposeful as the protaganists life is bleak but it makes it less interesting to read.

Also feels a bit cut off. What happens when the husband comes back and finds out she's gone?

I'm looking forward to reading more.

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