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Mirror in a Taxi
She looked at her licence. Her licence! It had Leslie Peters right there in bold black letters. She was heading out, qualified to the open road. Driving wherever the wind blew her. Well, wherever passengers called her to, which happened to be the west end. Driving along with the wind in her hair and the sun through the windscreen. Again, not quite, her windows were rolled up because it was pelting down out there. In the middle of July! Good old England for you. But, anyway, this was her dream. And maybe she was achieving it a little late in life for what it was but whatever. She was one of the few female taxi drivers of London and proud. She was also wearing a brand new trouser suit, with a pink shirt that she paid for with around half her future pay cheque. Yes, it was gone already since the other half would go on rent but the outfit was worth it.
Some one was saying something through the cool intercom thing in her car. Her cool intercom thing! The traffic inched along slowly but that wasn’t going to ruin her moment. She had passed her geographical knowledge test, the third time round but who’s counting? She was fabulous. Oops, she’d missed whatever the voice in her car was saying.
“8 Glastonbury Street, London, NW6 1NN – West Hampstead.” Leslie knew it was directed at her. The failing thing wasn’t as much of a secret as she wanted it to be. “Good luck, you’ll need it.” Harry was always the charmer. “You are picking up a Mr and Mrs Doll.” Then the intercom clicked off. Leslie laughed to herself. The Dolls. Lets hope they don’t have a child and call it Barbie. She thought about her knowledge of London and decided to turn down Clayton Road to avoid the traffic on Queens. She was one of those people who knew the secret ways to avoid traffic and didn’t get lost taking them. Oh, yes. After ten minutes of using side roads she took Foxley Road to Camberwell New Road to cross the Thames. She sped through to West Hampstead station and her jaw began to drop. They may be called the Dolls but they lived in a bloody nice area. As she pulled round to their front door she was drooling. Not literally, because that would be gross.
Mr Doll. Leslie laughed to herself. Mr Doll was leading his heavily pregnant wife down the steps outside the house towards the car. Mrs Dolls’ long brown hair hung down like a curtain in front of her face. Mr Doll was kind of cute in an “I’d screw him if he was five years younger and his surname wasn’t Doll” way. Leslie looked at Mr Doll who was now in the taxi.
“So, where am I taking you?” she asked as she pulled out of her space and went back down the road the way she came. Leslie heard a yelp from the back and saw Mrs Doll bending over her stomach.
“A Hospital.” Mrs Doll gasped. Leslie thought she recognised the voice.
“Wellington Hospital, Wellington Place, NW8 9LE. Her contractions are five minutes apart!” Mr Doll clarified. A little bit too much information for Leslie but he was about to be a father after all. Mr Doll had a right to be excited. “Leslie,” Leslie turned around in her seat and looked at Mr Doll. How did he know her name? She wondered what he wanted to say to her but he continued, to his wife… “It’s ok. Just breathe, like in the classes, with me now…” So it was Mrs Leslie Doll. This was odd. Leslie stepped on the gas. There are loads of people called Leslie around.
Fifteen minutes and three more contractions later they were finally nearing the hospital. Leslie pulled up at a red light and turned to check on her first customers. Mrs Doll was breathing deeply, recovered from her last contraction and looked at her. And for a second, time stopped. Or at least, that’s what it felt like. She was looking in a mirror. Into her eyes. Looking at her slightly misaligned nose. Her red lips. Her naturally highlighted hair. And Leslie knew Mrs Doll was doing the same thing. But then Mrs Doll leaned back into her husband’s arms as she had another contraction. And the cars behind her were honking their horns because the lights had turned green. Before she could think about it anymore she was at the hospital and the Dolls were out of the taxi.
“How much will that be?” Mr Doll leaned though the window and asked. She snapped back to reality and automatically looked at the meter.
“Ten-Forty please.” She replied on autopilot. Mr Doll took the money out of his wallet and looked at her closely.
“You know, you look a lot like my wife. Keep the change,” He said then smiled at her and escorted his wife into the hospital.
Leslie titled her head and thought to herself. That was… odd. And the guy just tipped her £9.60. But that woman…Leslie. Who looked like her? That was odd. She really didn’t have the time to worry about this. She had her first day of work to continue and a date tonight. Her third date with a lovely man called Ben. Things were looking up. Leslie pulled out of the space and headed towards central London.
Leslie Doll opened her eyes.
“Hey.” Whispered her husband, who was leaning over her.
“Hey.” She whispered back. “We have a girl! Our own little baby girl!” Her voice rose to a normal level and she was ecstatic.
“I know, and my mother called. The plane landed at ten and…”
“No offence but seriously, give me a day of relaxation before your family visit.”
“Why?” He sounded offended.
“Gregory.” She gave him a sardonic look but he looked hurt so she softened her tone. She smiled. “ Greg. Because every time I meet them they smile and screech ‘I like her, she’s such a Doll!’ then laugh as if it’s the first time they’ve said it. I love you, and they are great but I just had your baby. And this is a hospital. Your family are loud. Give me a day. One day. Please?” Leslie looked at her husband from her hospital bed and smiled.
“Ok, they’ll come on Saturday. She’s beautiful, you know.” A slow smile spread over Greg’s face as he sat down beside the bed, talking about his brand new daughter.
“I do know. And she looks like you.” Leslie said with a touch of jealousy, she was definitely a daddy’s girl, look-wise anyway.
“And you, she has your nose,” He tapped her nose and they both laughed.
“And I think she’s going to need plastic surgery for that later… Speaking of people who have my nose. That taxi driver.” Leslie congratulated herself on the subtle change of topic.
“Your younger body double.” Greg supplied.
“Yes, her. You noticed. It wasn’t just me. Did you also notice she was wearing a pink shirt? Much like the pink shirt we met in?” Leslie was hoping that he’d find it was weird as she did.
“Like the one you still have sitting in the wardrobe even though you haven’t worn it for six years?” Evidently, Greg didn’t.
“Yes, like the one you spat red wine all over the first time I met you which happened to be the first time I wore it. The one that cost half my paycheque, yes. That would be the one. Don’t you find it a little odd? That we looked the same and she was wearing my shirt? Or is that just me?”
“Do you want to know what I think? You are reading too much into this. But if you want to reminisce about the night you got stood up by Ben Mathews I’m all for it.” Greg smiled.
“And the night you were stood up buy your blind date?” Leslie retorted.
“I was not stood up. My date was late then she saw me talking to you and wasn’t sure if it was me or not and didn’t want to interrupt.”
“Yes, that’s what happened… That’s why your pick-up line of choice was ‘Your date’s not here either?’” Leslie said smugly. He’d always insisted he wasn’t stood up. Why couldn’t he just take it like a man?
“You were cute, about to cry and in a pink shirt that I just had to spit red wine over. What do you expect?” He asked, enjoying the relaxed banter between them.
“Good job you did, spit at me I mean, or we wouldn’t be married now. You realise I wrote you off as soon as I knew your surname was Doll.”
“As many women did. You know, I’ve been thinking, since we have a girl, I’m liking the name Barbie…” Greg chuckled to himself but Leslie got serious.
“Ha haha ha. Not funny. Don’t even joke about that. Why would you want to do that to our child?” She looked her husband squarely in the eye. “Don’t you dare.”