Guess I didn’t get caught up over the weekend! Here’s last Friday’s prompt from Story of My Life’s Blogtember Challenge: A story about a time you were very afraid.
Like any other workday morning, I was already late when I walked out the back door. M, my husband, followed me, holding open the screen door, “I can’t believe you’re still going that way, it’s winter for Christ’s sake!”
There were two ways for me to get to work. The first, and safest November through March, took about 50 to 55 minutes on a back road, but at least a back road that was paved and had 2 lines down the middle. The second, and the one most often taken, was a one lane dirt road with no winter maintenance that was often used as a snow mobile trail, but it was only 15 miles from my driveway to the facility’s.
And anyway, there was barely any snow on the ground and I was already late. How was I to know that we’d had one of the worst ice storms in 50 years?
I glanced to the passenger seat, and reached for my lighter. As my eyes fell back on the road, I lit my cigarette, and glanced through the woods, admiring the white blanket that quieted the space.
I go up a hill, a bend to left, a bend to the right. Another hill with a bend at the top. The Suzuki reaches the top of the hill, makes the bend, and I pull the wheel back into place. The SUV continues to turn, sliding towards the 5 foot drop off at the side of the road.
“Shit, shit, shit,” and both hands grip the steering wheel, willing the tires to grip.
My neck snaps forward and back with such force, it makes my head ache instantly, then the thud of the landing, and everything inside bounces hard into the air.
I slam the brakes, try to focus my eyes, but all I see is the huge oak that looks like it’s barreling at me. I can’t seem to pull my eyes away from it, when all of a sudden, the world spins and I start to scream.
When I open my eyes, I can’t quite figure out what happened. I can hear screaming, and it takes a moment for me to realize it’s me. Deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. I squeeze my eyes shut again, and when I open them, it’s then that I realize I’m hanging upside down. I panic. In. Out. In. Out.
I can’t seem to stop my mind for long enough to think what I need to do. WhatdoIdo? WhatdoIdo? WhatdoIdo?
“Get out of the fucking car, Caitlyn,” I say out loud to myself. “Seatbelt,” I say, both hands scrambling to my waist, trying to maneuver the button. Without even realizing it, I unlatched the belt and toppled to what was only a few moments ago the ceiling of my Suzuki.
I scramble and began kicking at the driver’s side window with my snow boats. I kicked hard, as hard as I can, over and over again, but it doesn’t give. I’m crying uncontrollably, hyperventilating, sobbing and screaming again, just wanting to get out of the SUV.
Suddenly I stop. It registers that I can hear the radio playing. “Calm down, Caitlyn. Calm down,” I keep saying, the sound of my voice grounding me. I reach up and realize the keys are still in the on position. It gives me a jolt of fear, a 1000 scenes from a 1000 movies flash through my head: dripping gasoline, a spark from the engine, boom.
I start to move a little faster, continuing to talk myself step-by-step through every move. “Check the window, Caitlyn, check the window.” I reorient myself and push the window and to my utter amazement, it rolls down.
My heart starts to race and my situation starts to hit me. I realize I’m alive and at least fundamentally okay, as I begin to move around the car. “Think Caitlyn. What do you need? Whatdoyouneed, whatdoyouneed, whatdoyouneed” I begin to list off items to myself: purse, cell phone, scarf, hat, gloves, smokes. It takes me a minute to figure out how to get the keys out of the ignition, being upside down, but I get them and back my way out of the window.
I get to my feet and look around. When I finally look at my vehicle, the vehicle I’ve only made one car payment on, I burst into tears and start to shake. It doesn’t even look like my Suzuki. The whole front end is caved in, the windshield smashed to shreds, compressed to no more than 12 inches in length. The passenger door completely caved in and even a child would be too big to squeeze out of it.
I started shaking and stumbling to the road. I call work first, now only 5 minutes to the time I’m supposed to clock in.
I call my bff next, who should just be clocking out from her night shift at the hospital, wanting her to calm me down before I call home. She doesn’t answer, but I leave a message. I walk up the road and find myself sitting on a snow covered stump, dreading the next call, just staring at the phone in hand.
I punch in the number and M answers, damn. I take a deep breath, “Can I talk to Mom?”
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” sob, sniffle, “I just need to talk to Mom… please.”
“What the hell is going on Caitlyn?!” he demands.
I start crying into the phone, “You’re going to yell me….”
But surprisingly he didn’t. Instead, he called off work, got into his truck and drove to pick me up. He then drove me back and helped me pack up the $1200 worth of Christmas presents that were in the back of the Suzuki, all bought the night before for the client’s at work. He drove me to work, helped me carry them all in, and then drove me back home. Never once even raising his voice.
Thank you Sir, for being there, for taking care of me. And not yelling.