Big Yellow Taxi || by Enda F. Byrne

FS Review
A BIG YELLOW TAXI PULLED UP to the curb like a lion in search of prey. The airport hustled and whistled behind them, lights gleaming, beaming, an endless bustle of humanity struggling to keep moving.

The taxi exuded fumes that threatened her senses with a billow of frightening novelty. Lungs bellowing to escape, Rosita wanted to cry but didn’t dare. 

They smelled strange, clean and fresh, not like real parents who fumbled in the dark and disappeared when the sun rose. Their faces beamed healthily, especially when they smiled and tried to hold her tight or touch her cheek as she twisted violently while trying to please them with a vague smile, wondering if she could escape, if they would let her, or if she could trust them not to.

They told her about their flat, and the huge trees out front around the playground. Rosita didn’t know what a flat was. 
The taxi lurched. Horns squealed. The driver shouted. Rosita didn’t understand. His words fiddled for attention in her overblown head.

They called themselves Mum and Dad, short, simple, easily pronounced if impossible to understand. Their presence boomed from the shadows, unrelenting, even when she cried and screamed and kicked and knocked his glasses off on a crowded plane. She was trapped in a vice, struggling between the comfort of a hug and the fear of repulsion. Voices, smells, sensations rushed to choke her screams. Loneliness punched her stomach. She sucked a deep breath in search of nothing she could identify as missing. 

The big yellow taxi stopped. A building loomed overhead. It was enormous. Rosita was going to learn what a flat was. He kissed her fleetingly on the back of her head while the woman held her by the shoulder, arm curling encouragingly, whispering words that meant nothing. She didn’t want to leave the snug darkness of the taxi. She caught her new mum’s eyes for the first time: Dad could wait.

Years of analysis never explained how raw, infantile emotions became twisted tentacles clawing at her skin, tearing her heart, clouding her decisions, tangling her dreams into entrails of frustration. That big yellow taxi never came back to pick up the pieces. She grew up with a jigsaw jumble that she could never piece together.

She cuddled her child close and stared through the displays. Lights blazed, digital screens flashed for attention but she couldn’t spot what she was looking for. She felt a wave of anger rising into violence. She breathed deeply, sucked in sweaty air, held her baby close and stepped outside into the rain. No little yellow taxis in the toyshop. She refused to hail a real one. They’d walk. Rosita tried to remember the way home. 



E. F. S. Byrne works in education and writes when his teenage kids allow it. He blogs a regular micro flash story. Links to this and over fifty published pieces can be found at or follow him on Twitter @efsbyrne

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