The two of them had been driving for more than an hour at this point. She watched the trees pass by anxiously with her fingers tucked under her legs.
He looked at her once again and noted her anxiety. The train station appeared out of nowhere. A shiver suddenly swept through him. This was his final opportunity to act.
Good At His Job
The better part of Satbir Arora's adult life was spent driving cabs. His job gave him an opportunity to help people travel from one part of Oxfordshire to another.
It was more than driving that comprised Arora's job as a cabbie. As a driver, he felt responsible for every passenger in his car. In the beginning, he wasn't aware of how profound this mentality would be.
The First Customer Of The Day
On that particular Friday morning, Arora started his day as usual. He traveled around Oxfordshire's streets hunting for clients after a nice meal with his wife.
He hadn't been on the road for very long when he noticed a young woman beckoning at him to stop. The girl was dressed in her school uniform. Unaware that events were about to take an unexpected turn, Arora grinned and drew his cab up next to her.
A Long Journey
"Where to?" he asked. The girl replied, "Thanks, Gloucestershire Railway Station." Despite the fact that she said it in a flippant way, Arora thought it odd that the girl was going in that direction.
He remarked, "A little far, isn't it?" and the girl chuckled apprehensively. She averted Arora's eyes as he turned to face her. Was something going on with the young girl?
Not Adding Up
Rarely did Arora keep his passengers in the car for longer than an hour. It took more than two hours to get to this girl's destination. She wasn't being accompanied by an adult, and her school uniform made her travel even more bizarre. The investigation into this would fall on Arora.
The girl shuffled uncomfortably and nodded when he asked, "Do your parents know where you're going." Arora thought that was a sufficient response to confirm his suspicions. Clearly, there was a problem.
Worry could be seen on the girl's face. Arora seldom bothered to get involved in the personal affairs of his passengers, but in this case, he felt compelled to.
"When you get to the station, what will you do there? Will you travel anywhere?" he asked. He continued to watch the girl as she nodded once more when she said something that increased his concern twofold.
Backed Into A Corner
Dryly, the girl said, "I'm going to meet a friend." She seemed to be hiding something based on her dismissiveness." Is this someone your parents know?" asks Arora. In an effort to end the conversation, the girl said, "Yes."
Arora remained silent and maintained his attention on the road after realizing that he had forced the girl into a corner. He observed the girl was getting painfully uncomfortable as they got closer to their destination after an hour had passed.
As soon as the train station was in sight, the girl reached for her bag. She had already exited the vehicle before Arora could pull the cab over, leaving his door open.
She moved to stand at the station's entrance as Arora watched her. In comparison to before the trip, she seemed considerably more anxious. He was aware that action was required.
He Needed To Act
The girl and Arora have been confined in his car for the past two hours. All along their journey, he had been plagued by concern. Arora made the decision to remain in the background after observing her standing there by herself. Perhaps she was in danger?
He thought about how he could approach the girl without frightening her. With his questions, he had already gone too far and unnerved her. What more was there for him to do?
Something Was Amiss
Throughout the ride, the girl had been shut off. She appeared confident in what she was doing despite her unease. Only for that reason did Arora continue driving to her destination rather than returning to her house.
The way she stood among the expanding train station crowd, though, caught his attention as he observed her through the window of his vehicle.
Arora noticed that the girl was scared. Her eyes were wide as she stared around, searching for someone. There was a tremble to her fingers and a quiver to her lips.
She held her school bag tightly to her chest like she had not been used to such huge crowds. She felt and looked awkward and out of place. Watching her put a few things into perspective.
He’s Seeing Clearer
A few things became clear as Arora studied the girl. The first thing was that the girl had never been alone in such a crowded place. She wanted to appear like someone who had done this several times before but did the opposite.
The second thing was that whoever she was waiting for was someone she'd either never met before or was trying to impress. Each of these realizations only made Arora want to step in even more.
How To Move Forward
Arora's fingers tightened around his steering wheel as he thought about the best way to approach the situation. It was already clear that the girl wouldn't open up to him.
After all, he was a middle-aged man looking to connect with a teenager and get her to tell her what was worrying her. It was then that he had a brilliant idea.
His Best Half
In the years that Arora had been a married man, he had a weapon that had never failed in social situations. This weapon also doubled as his lovely wife, a woman Arora loved to high heaven and back.
Arora's wife had her way of connecting with people. She was easy to talk to, with the most disarming smile on this earth. If there were anyone who could get the girl to speak, it would be her.
Arora knew his wife would get the job done. But there was only one problem. She was more than two hours away from the train station. She wouldn’t make it in time.
Arora thought about calling her, but that alone presented its own problems. First, would the girl accept to talk on the phone, and second, could his wife connect with her without being there in person and using her all mighty disarming smile?