Hello all! Written long ago and gathering dust, here’s a random chapter from an unfinished book…
The music was loud. Driving the route to his house, his home, his family, he was surrounded by it, lost in the sound of the music. He was the car. The road so familiar to him, the turns he had made for years on his way home. He didn’t even have to think, just to be. It was a wonderful feeling.
It was dark. The weather was fine, clear and crisp, the air still and the moon shone. The roads were dry. There was no traffic. It was 7:00 pm. He would be home in fifteen minutes. Home to Jocelyn, their children. They would catch up with each other. He would feel her arms wrap around him, see her smile. He would ask about Danna, tell them all about the email he got from her. The boys would tell him their latest news, his little girl hers. Her stories about Kindergarten, her friends. She might show him a picture.
Alex made the turns. He listened to the music. The song was great. Everything was perfect. A split second later, the scene would change. His hand slipped and his car took on a different path, off the road. His body suddenly changed. Sharp electric signals raced from his heart to his fingertips, to his toes, his brain. His car careened off-course. The music was blaring. The ride was bumpy, horribly different from the moment before. He couldn’t concentrate. He had no time. He saw the tree, but he couldn’t process the thought. It was an impossible moment, only seconds before the impact ahead.
No one could imagine that he was in the crisis of his life. Countless thoughts and images went flying through his brain, too many to process. Thoughts of things he did long ago, things he hadn’t done yet, wanted to do. Things. His old house, his elementary school, a dime he once saw shining in the sun. Water dripping from a faucet. Faces raced past his vision, all kinds of faces, faces he had known and loved, then strange faces, people he had only known for minutes some only seen for seconds, people on buses, people walking past him. Then voices, his mother, children playing, Jocelyn laughing. This rush of places and people and sounds was strange and horrible to him. Fear gripped him.
Alex didn’t remember turning the wheel. He didn’t remember that action or why he turned out and not in. His mind and body were overtaken by this intense struggle. There was no one around him to witness these extreme efforts. His own home only a few miles away. His wife, his children couldn’t know he was fighting for that.
The car changed its course. Still off-road, it sped past the tree. Seconds later, a new problem, his car racing down the embankment tipping on uneven terrain, wild bumps and violent shaking, loud, unfamiliar noises. Alex was captive, strapped in, like a rider on a roller coaster. He tried to steer, to control his car. Nothing was working. The ditch came fast. His car slammed down into it.
He didn’t remember the airbag, how it inflated and saved his head from breaking on the dashboard. Seconds later, he opened his eyes and saw the damage, could not move, could not think, could only sob with the thought of all he almost lost.
Alex stayed there and sobbed, stunned at what had just happened. He cried and screamed, knowing of nothing else to do. The fear and strain and the danger of the previous moments flooded out of him. He could not control his body. He could only stay there and cry.
And then he stopped, sat there, looked around him. As he moved, he yelled in pain. His whole body hurt, his arms and legs, his neck, his back. His stomach churned. He managed to move his seat back enough to unbuckle himself.
He looked around him and thought. For the first time since his car went off the road, he had the time to think. It was an unbelievable luxury! A strange euphoria washed over him. He started to laugh. Then he was consumed in laughter. He laughed with joy, then at the irony of suddenly having all this time to think and laugh. He laughed hysterically until he became exhausted, then Alex slept.
When he woke he was disoriented. He couldn’t make sense of his surroundings, how he hurt, what time it was. He managed to reach into his pocket for his cell phone. He turned it on and checked the time. 11:00 pm. He didn’t know what that meant. Was he late? Was he on time? Where exactly was he?
He dialed the number he had been dialing for twenty years. Twenty years of laughter and love and of memories too wonderful to speak of.
Jocelyn was at home. Worry was the only thing she could do. Her children upstairs or in bed, she sat alone, staring out the window, sick with fear. She had kept busy with the boys and her daughter for most of the night. Alex wasn’t always on time, she reasoned. He would certainly be home soon. Once the house was quiet, however, she began to panic. She did not know what to do with the panic, how to manage it. Time passed so slowly! All she wanted was to hear him pull into the driveway, open the car door and walk to the door. Those were the sounds she begged to hear.
She thought about praying. “What good would it do?” She didn’t know. She kept willing him to come home. “Come on, Alex, come home.” She looked at the clock. 10:30 pm. This was much later than he ever was. She wondered why he hadn’t called. She had called his cell but only got voicemail. She tried again, same result.
Jocelyn got up and walked into the kitchen. She tried to think of something to do to make the time pass more quickly. She thought to empty the dishwasher, but it was still running. Then she thought about the kids’ lunches for tomorrow. Deciding that making them tonight would keep her occupied, she opened the fridge and pulled out the cold cuts and lettuce, then some apples and peppers to slice. She grabbed rolls out of the freezer and set them on the counter to defrost. It was 10:45 pm.
At 11:00 pm, Jocelyn was well into making the lunches when the phone rang. Her heart jumped as she ran across the kitchen to the phone.
“Oh Jocelyn, I’m so glad you’re there! It’s me.”
“Alex! Where are you? Are you alright?”
“I’m here, here in my car. My car, it went off the road. I’m sitting here down in a ditch in my car.”
“God Alex! Are you hurt?”
“I think I’m okay. I don’t know. I have all-over pain. I haven’t moved from my seat. I guess I probably have some bruises, but I think I’m okay. I’m so glad to hear your voice, dear. You’re so dear. I love you Jocelyn. God, I don’t know what happened. One minute I was on the road and the next thing I knew I was about to hit a tree. Then I turned the wheel and went down into this ditch. I’m stuck here and I think I’m going to need help getting out.”
“I think I should call an ambulance. I’m calling an ambulance, Alex. You need to get checked out. You don’t know if you’re not seriously hurt. You could be hurt and not know it. Is your car badly damaged?”
“I don’t know. I think I’m okay. Don’t call an ambulance, Jocelyn. Just come get me. Then we’ll get a tow truck to pull out the car.”
“No, but what if you’re really hurt? What if we get home and you’re hurt and you need a doctor? Alex, I don’t want to take any chances. I don’t care about the car. I care about getting you checked out.”
“No! Don’t argue with me. I’m not taking any chances. I’m calling an ambulance. Tell me where you are.”
“Okay dear. I think I’m okay. I hurt a little. I know my thinking isn’t clear. I guess you’re right. I’m here on 412, probably five miles from our house.”
“I’m going to call an ambulance, then I’m coming to you, Alex. Stay right there. Don’t move. The ambulance will be there soon. Don’t move. I love you. Stay there Alex.”
Thank you for reading.