She tapped her fingers nervously on her ripped jeans. She had taken the time to put on makeup–a smattering of eye liner (deep indigo) and smear of lipstick (shimmery bronze) covered her face. Her gold hoops dipped almost to her shoulders.
She had read the book, too. Downloaded it from the internet onto her iPhone.
When she had taken her driving test at age sixteen, her PawPaw told her simply to answer all the study questions, and she would pass. She had done that–meticulously–filled out each of the sixty-five sample questions and studied them. The process worked for her then and for her all her family members, who had just relocated from North Carolina to the panhandle of Florida.
Today she was 32, and the state where she now resided only had eight practice questions to the fifty on the test. At least she didn’t have to get into a car and drive.
“Number 82?” came a call from a tall brunette behind a brightly-colored counter. She glanced at her number and stood, slowly, deliberately. Her stilettos clicked on the linoleum. She smiled tentatively when she reached the counter, her fingernails tapping on the tangerine laminate, clashing in their fiery-red glory.
After the brunette checked (and took) her old license, perused her birth certificate, utility bills, and application, she spoke: “Computer Station #6, please.”
The heels again clicked as she walked across the room and seated herself in the appropriate place.
Her heart sank, even with answering multiple choice questions about her birthdate and age, to verify her identity. She tried to focus on the screen, but the background music drifted into her ears. She would take any form of distraction she could to ease the pressure.
“Wake me up, before you go, go…” sang a much younger George Michael, part of the Wham! duo. The song reminded her of the scene in Zoolander, which her little brother mimicked regularly–minus the explosion–anytime they went to the gas station together.
The screen in front of her glowed with a question regarding the shape of a STOP sign. Really?
She found her head bobbing and shoulders moving to the music, until the song transitioned into the female power ballad, “I Will Survive” by the legendary Gloria Gaynor. She chuckled quietly, and tried not to belt out the lyrics like she had done so many times with her older sister. Still, she let the empowerment of the song calm her into a more secure emotional place.
Another question was asked about the main way carbon monoxide can poison passengers. How did I miss that section? She made her best guess, and listened on as Whitney Houston was singing her peppy “How Will I Know?”
She was dancing now, feeling the relief of having weeded through 44 of the 50 questions on the test. 45. 46. 47. She answered them sometimes with her best guess, other times with surety. Could most of the answers really be C?, she wondered almost aloud, when large letters interrupted her thought process on the way to answer question 48.
Thank heavens. She stood, without bothering to review the test questions, and relief swept through her. She felt all the feelings of a sixteen-year-old again–the relief, the exhaustion, the adrenaline of wanting to celebrate.
A worker took her picture on a strikingly bright green background. Not my best color, but who cares? I passed!
She paid her fee, collected her license, and clicked her way out the door, only she wasn’t sure her heels ever touched the floor.