of gingerbread and little red cars... La fin... finally...

she was released into the care of her husband in the wee hours of the morning.
once out of the car there was severe stiffness that made it difficult to walk. all she wanted was a hot shower, she was chilled to the bone and showering was advised to rid her of airbag residue because nasty chemicals are contained in airbag propellant.  but it was more than that, she wanted to believe that water and soap could wash it all away.

when she undressed she found there major bruising on her left side surrounding a perfect impression of the window crank and much to her dismay she needed help into the tub... and out.

finally warm and snuggled inside the arms of her husband she tried to sleep, but sleep did not come for trying to remember...

surely one could argue all of the happenings that night with simple science.
finding a penny and picking it up; wives tale. (though she no longer picks them up if they are face down)
the clap of thunder; impact.
the rain; airbag dust.
the shimmering light that surrounded her; window glass shards and more airbag dust.
the trickle of white light reaching out to her; cracks crawling along the windshield.
being in the wrong/right place at the right/wrong time.  chance.

but there was the bright white light - which could have been the blow to the head that knocked her unconscious, but she had been in her brother's house watching them divide christmas cookies into large white donut boxes. she even knew who was there and what they were wearing. science might say that it was just a fleeting thought in her head. after all, she was headed there and she'd been there many times before so it was easy to guess what they would be doing when she got there. thinking it was anything else was just silly...

science. chance. luck. roll of the dice. nothing more. nothing less.

the next few days brought stiffness and inability to function without fatigue. hair loss above and behind her ear where her head had struck the unforgiving metal. reversal of her words and thoughts. black outs. short term memory loss, which irritated her and her husband to no end.  'misfiring brain circuits' her doctor called them in layman's terms 'from the brain being shaken out of it's normal surroundings.' (she knew the feeling) calls came from lawyers and people posing as lawyers and/or insurance representatives, all of them wanting her to admit she had made a U-Turn in front of the gasoline tanker. news crews knocked at a door she refused to open. warnings from her own insurance lawyers that there be absolutely no communication between herself and anyone involved and/or inquiring about the accident in any form. (for the first time she was glad she didn't remember) a police report that listed one "possible" witness whose name and address did not exist. a towing bill for removal of her vehicle. a hint that the tanker driver had been fired for 'failure to follow company procedures.' photos from the junk yard of her damaged car...

and her sister-in-law bearing a tiny glass angel - to remind her of the one that must have been with her that night - and a large white donut box filled with christmas exchange cookies...

a large white donut box filled with christmas exchange cookies... science be damned, what are the chances she knew that? or the fact that someone was there who was brought along by someone else at the last minute whose clothing she could describe...

it was at this point the hair on her arms stood upright and she knew without a doubt that she had been in her brothers house that night and that there really is something bigger out there.

God, if you will, had for some reason somehow intervened on her behalf.

what reason was remains a question that may never be answered in a form she understands...
but, her life changed in the blink of an eye that night and every day following that one, whether it be good or bad or ugly, she finds something to smile about. she makes certain those she loves know it. she cries when something touches her. she laughs endlessly. she dispenses hugs and kisses freely to any one she thinks in need of them.

and,  she knows that moments lost can never be recovered and death may take you when you expect it.

December 21st, 2005 may indeed have been the day she died, but it was also the day she was born.

and this was her womb.

of gingerbread and little red cars... part 9

she was taken for a series of x-ray testings - all taking place while she was immobile - and moved back into the hall.  the attending physician then asked her several questions some of them repeated and told her she would be examined further once a bed was available. at that time they would have her test results and possibly be able to remove the restraints.

she began to pray for an open bed and clear test results. being restrained was torture.

finally she was transferred onto a bed, told the tests had shown nothing severe. thankfully she could be freed from the restraints. the neck brace was the worst and so, of course, it was the last one to go. she expected comfort, but instead she felt stiff and she ached. she was examined further now for anything else that might visually appear. she was also asked some of the same questions she'd been asked several times before. one question; do you need to use the restroom? to which she'd consistently answered no, was asked so many times she began to feel like a child defiantly declining she needed to pee while obviously trying to contain it.

the doctor finished her exam, noted bruising and head trauma, wrote a prescription for pain killers and told her she was nothing short of a christmas miracle.

both of her brothers, their wives, and children who had been waiting were then cleared to see her.  "i won't be having anymore christmas cookie exchanges i know that much." was her sister-in-law's remark. there were gentle hugs and chattering about miracles and someone watching over her. as they talked she noticed the girls were wearing exactly what she had seen them in earlier at their house... but she hadn't really been at their house had she. how could she have been?  she wanted to mention it - to ask who else had been there. if they'd divided cookies into boxes. but, how and why did she know this? - but she kept mum.

the brother that hadn't been at the hospital asked her about the accident and the ticket she had been issued. told her she'd gotten her 'ten minutes of fame' - the accident had been spectacular enough to warrant interruption of local television - and he wanted to hear her version...
".. the way those tankers barrel down that highway i can't believe you got the ticket! i can't wait to see who the jerk is who wrote it!" he'd said.
and, as if he'd heard, the officer in charge of the accident walked through the door.  her brother, who also worked for the county, introduced himself and asked about her car and the tanker driver. some chatter occurred between them. the officer said he had not personally seen her car and probably wouldn't get the chance.  he had however seen a very mangled tanker that had just been filled with 8300 gallons of various fuels that were lost onto the road. they figured clean up costs would probably run in the 6 figure range and he hoped she had insurance because he had no doubt there would be huge lawsuits.

then he turned his attention to her to ask if she had a death wish on her christmas list. he thought it amusing, she did not. he told her she had been ticketed for failure to yield because 6 or 7 witnesses said she had made a U-Turn in front of the semi.

what about the truck driver? she asked.  "oh he was fine. minor cuts and bruises but he waived any kind of medical treatment and called someone to come get him. he was gone long before i talked to you in the patrol car..."

that wasn't what she was asking. she wanted to know if the truck driver saw her or knew he had hit her. and, if he did why didn't they look for her? but she had an inkling the officer knew what she was asking and he seemed hurried so she didn't bother explaining further...

on the heels of the leaving officer her brother said; "and you wonder why cops get a bad rap.  the officer that just walked out of here is an asshole. he knows me, but there he was acting like he didn't have a clue who i was. acting all superior when he obviously doesn't know anything.  excuse me? 'i never looked at her car and probably won't get a chance to?' what kind of investigation is that? i'd ask for a copy of the report if i were you. seriously, this guy is lazy. so lazy he sits in a warm patrol car making up scenarios and issuing tickets because he knows exactly what happened without having to check the facts. right....  yeah. i knew he was an asshole the first time i saw him and he has yet to prove me wrong... idiot!"

her first impression of the officer wasn't a good one either, but she couldn't remember so no matter how much she wanted to she couldn't agree with her brother. all she could do was hope that at some point she could remember for certain herself.

hospital shifts changed and when the new nurse came through to check her vitals, they took their leave.  her husband walked out with them. no doubt, she thought, to ask them more questions about what they had seen and heard.

the new nurse busied herself taking her vitals and then she too asked her if she needed to use the bathroom. she said she didn't. the nurse reconfigured the question in such an odd way she finally realized why they kept asking it. she felt stupid and angered all at once;  "oh... you aren't asking me if i need to go as much as telling me i have to go are you? i am being tested for drug use aren't i..."

"they won't release you without a urine sample and, if you keep refusing they will order a blood test..." the nurse answered, meaning her simple refusal to pee in a cup didn't look good.

now all she felt was anger. "all they had to do was tell me that in the first place, i had no idea why they kept asking. i didn't have anything to hide. i still don't. lets do this."

the nurse pulled a bedpan from a bedside table; "some people will go to great lengths to avoid using the restroom thinking they can sober up. tricking them into it is a pretty standard procedure" and helped her maneuver it.

it was here in the small window of humiliation that she started to think. "find a penny, pick it up..."  but the penny had been tails up. a bad omen so they say. so, did the penny in her pocket save her life or did it cause her to be sitting here on a bedpan being tested for drug use? what were the chances she would miss the turn she'd taken so many times before? she never took chances driving, she wouldn't even drive with a headache so how is it that she would not have looked both ways before attempting a U-turn? especially on a highway. and if there were 6 or 7 witnesses that saw her do it why did the officer have no idea she was there. why was nobody looking for her? none of it made sense... and how was it she had been at her brothers house when she'd obviously never left her car... unless... had she been dead? sobbing came forth without warning and she could not control it.

"it finally hit you did it?" the nurse asked helping her maneuver off the bedpan.
"guessing it did. so many questions..."
the nurse left with the sample and returned with a box of tissues. she sat down beside her; "you know, some of those questions will never be answered. but i want to tell you something. tanker drivers like the one who hit you go barreling down that highway far over the speed limit all the time. that is a fact. and, they get away with it more often than not. another fact. but you don't have to believe me on that one, just ask the people who live on that highway.  but,  this is what i really want you to understand; that driver had a free ride on your dime.  if you caused his tanker to roll, you are responsible for his care. no ifs ands or buts. not only now, but in the future whatever that care may be you would pay for it. understand?"
"and there he was waiving any kind of medical care. from what i heard, he wouldn't even let them examine him. i find that pretty interesting. don't forget that he also had a big expensive truck and some pretty hefty bills will be coming his way that you would also be responsible for. there is no doubt in my mind that if he didn't know you would be responsible for all his bills the officer in charge would have told him you were.  now, add all of that to the fact that he was calling for a ride home before he even bothered trying to get out of his truck. honey, that tells me this; he wanted out of that area as soon as soon as possible because he knew he would be right here where you are pissing in his own bedpan... and that means only one thing; he had something major he needed to hide and this was not your fault."

of gingerbread and little red cars... part 8

once across the road the officer helped her into the ambulance and disappeared into the night.  there were two attendants.  one male. one female. the female attendant helped her remove one arm from her coat and was preparing to check vital signs when her brother crawled in and sat beside her.

he told her he'd been on his way home from a service call but because of an accident - obviously this one - he'd been re-routed down a street he didn't normally take.  he couldn't help but repeat more than once just what a strange coincidence it was that he had been right there right then. she knew that he was right, seconds sooner or later and he would not have been sitting with her now. in everything she couldn't say, she hoped it was clear that thank you was not a big enough word.

after her vitals were taken there were a series of questions to test her physical and mental abilities and a determination was made that her mental processes were functioning within the normal realm, but there was some concern regarding short term memory loss. that in itself, they told her, wasn't as troubling as was the fact that she had been struck in the head hard enough to be rendered unconscious but there was no concussion and no headache. she overheard them tell her brother that these could be signs that something far more menacing could be brewing beneath the surface. it was strongly suggested that she be transported to the hospital for further tests that would rule out any kind of spine injury and/or internal bleeding.  

she hesitated. she felt fine. she had walked several blocks. she had stood in the rain. all she wanted now was to be wrapped up safely at home - and to remember what had happened. she looked toward her brother with question and he told her she might not want to dance with chance any more that evening. she agreed to be transported. he, in turn, agreed to meet her there.

sounded easy enough, until she found herself locked into a neck brace, strapped to a board and locked down on a gurney. unable to move and unable to see anything but what was directly above.  immediately she found her self wishing she had continued dancing with chance.  the ambulance started to roll and as they sirened from this town into the next, she found herself nauseous and uncomfortable and she must have looked it.
"it is easier if you close your eyes." the attendant said. "unless you think closing your eyes will make you see it all again..."
"i saw nothing to begin with and i cannot remember no matter how hard i try." she replied, and closed her eyes.  the attendant was right. it was easier.

once they arrived she was wheeled into the hospital and left in the hands of the emergency staff.  the emergency nurse told her that because of the weather and fast forming black ice it had been a very busy night for accidents, one of them had even involved a police officer 'can you believe that?', and there were no available exam rooms. meaning, she would be pushed to the end of the hall to wait for a doctor.

and wait she did. but, at least her brother was there as promised and he was willing to hold her hand. what if, she thought, she'd have been there alone without anyone knowing where she was....

her brother told her she had made the news.  seems the accident had been spectacular enough to break in to regularly scheduled programming with eye in the sky visuals of the gasoline tanker. the tanker that had lost control and overturned on the slick road. there were no visuals of her car. (there never were) but later news accounts were saying that apparently a woman (her) had made a U-Turn in front of the semi causing it to swerve....

"i don't remember making a U-Turn. never actually said i did. why would i make a U-Turn on that highway? would you? and wouldn't i check first if i was going to?"
"what did the other driver say?"
"no idea. but obviously he didn't tell them i was there or they'd have looked don't you think?"
"wasn't he there with you and the cop?"
"no. he'd gone home before they found me."
"i don't understand..."
"tell me about it..."

"are you comfortable?" he asked.
"no. i want out of this thing and off of this board. are you?" she asked because he had no chair and had been standing there hovering over her so she could see him.
"i'm fine, but i wouldn't think you are. it looks like they have you strapped on top of that board with half of your coat underneath you."
"no wonder my shoulder hurts. can you pull it out?"
"not sure i'm supposed to, but i'll try."
"nothing like paying for someone not to take care of you." she mocked.
"scene of an accident.  they can't touch much unless you're in bad form. hey. here's your purse too..."
"yeah. is there any money in it?"
"some. why?"
"because there won't be once i take it...."
"very funny."
"hey, try and stop me..."

her brother saw her husband in the distance and went to fetch him.  she heard them before she could see them and again found herself wishing she'd have danced with chance. chance had taken her many places tonight, but none of them had been as painful as being immobile and unable to see anything but what was hovering directly above her...

"holy shit!" she heard her husband say; "they said she wasn't hurt!"
i'm  surprised they've not removed it yet.  maybe they have to wait for the x-rays to make sure nothing is broken?"

her husband took her hand. "are you okay?" he asked.
"i'm sorry about what i said when i left."
"i know that. you were just angry." he kissed her.
"i think i broke your car."
"don't worry about that right now, we'll figure it out."
"i want out of this thing." she said referring to the neck bracing.
"i bet. looks uncomfortable."
"you have no idea..."

of gingerbread and little red cars... part 7

she stood on the side of the road in the cold december rain trying to decide
what she should do.  her brother's house was probably only a few miles up the road.  she could walk there.

but, if she did would she be leaving the scene of an accident? and if she left the scene of an accident would it make things worse? did it really matter one way or the other? if it really mattered where she was shouldn't they be trying to find her?  she wished now that she had thought to take the cell phone from the glovebox, this was, after all, an emergency...

she moved back toward her rescuers meaning to borrow one of their phones, but they were both discussing conserving their batteries in case they would need to call for a pick up later. instead she mentioned her possible U-Turn.
"i saw no car." said one to the other. "just a fish tailing semi. did you?"  the angel in white responded; "nope. i saw no car until we were evacuating. semi driver didn't mention it either. why?"

she started to explain; "because the man whose drive i was going to turn into said he thought i was going to make a U-Turn but i don't remember. don't know what i'm supposed to be doing now..."  and then, as if on cue, a man in uniform passed by in the darkness. "wait!" she called. "i have no idea what i am supposed to be doing."  the man in uniform stopped and told her she was to wait with the others until they were transported elsewhere or were cleared to return to their home and started to walk on.

she protested; "but i don't live here.  i was driving the other car."
"what other car?" he asked. "i'm not sure what you mean."
"i'm not either." she said; "but i was told the semi hit me and i was the other driver."
"the semi hit you?"
"yes sir, i think so. at least that is what i was told. but i don't remember."
"come with me."

he escorted her to his car, an unmarked suburban, helped her into the back seat, secured her seat belt, shut her door, and climbed into the front seat. "can you tell me what happened?" he asked.
she relayed the events leading up to pulling ahead of the drive so the car behind her could pull in.  he radioed some else, told him that 'evidently' there had been another driver. a female whom he would be bringing to him.

a few minutes and several blocks later she was transferred from the back of the suburban to the back of a patrol car. the door was shut but the interior lights remained on. she recognized the officer in the patrol car, it was the same officer who'd barked at them on the road where she'd been removed from her car.  he asked for her drivers license. oddly enough she'd somehow thought to grab her purse from the floor of her car after she'd gotten out.  again she wished she'd thought to grab the phone.  she fished her licence out and handed it to him. he asked her name. her address. her age. her social security number. what kind of car she was driving. what color it was. if there were any passengers. where she was going...

she answered all of his questions in turn.

and then he asked her the only question she couldn't answer; what had happened. again she relayed the events leading up to pulling ahead of the drive so the car behind her could pull in.
"and that is when you pulled out in front of the semi correct?" he asked.
"i don't recall pulling out, only ahead." she answered.
"you must have pulled out in front of the semi at some point."
"all i know is that i missed my brothers road. i wanted to turn around in a driveway. it was the driveway of the person behind me. i pulled ahead."
"so that would be why you made a U-Turn in front of the semi." he said.
she couldn't remember. she felt pressed for information she didn't have and simply repeated the same thing again. because it truly was all that she knew.
still he persisted; "i have a witness. she tells me that you made a U-Turn in front of the semi."
she felt like she was in a movie wherein they force you to admit to something you don't know. but this was real life. this was her life. and she honestly could not remember. if she could she certainly wouldn't lie.
"i don't recall making a U-Turn." she finally answered.
"again." he said, his voice stern. "i have a witness."
"if you have a witness that says i made a U-Turn i will have to believe i made a U-Turn, because i don't remember."  [in retrospect this was a very big mistake]
"you don't remember." he said in a tone far less like a question than a taunt.
"no sir i don't remember."
"if you don't remember you must have been unconscious..."
definite sarcasm, she thought, but responded appropriately; "i could have been. i don't know. i really cannot remember anything other than what i told you. i wish i could. not for your sake, but for my own."
"if you say you don't remember i will have to take you to that ambulance across the street and they will examine you thoroughly. are you prepared for that?"
definitely a threat, but she had no reason that she knew of to be afraid. "yes sir. i am prepared for what ever it takes."
"well then, lets go." he challenged as if she would change her mind.

when she didn't he exited his door and opened hers. for some reason she expected she would be handcuffed before she was removed from the vehicle but she was not. he did however hold tight to her arm.  for this she was suddenly glad because she found walking was difficult once she had been taken from the car.

she could see two ambulances parked across the road with several other emergency vehicles. slowly they made their way across the empty parking lot toward them. they stopped at the road to allow a van to pass.

but the van stopped and the driver rolled down his window.
"what's going on?" he asked.
"just move along." the officer responded.
"but, that is my sister."
"this is your sister?"
"yes sir, it is. what's happening?"
she looked up. it was her brother. "i think i was hit by a semi. i'm being taken to the ambulance across the street"  she said.
"holy shit! let me park my van and i'll stay with you."
he was told where he could park and that he could meet his sister at the ambulance and then the officer put a voice to her thoughts; "because; after all, what are the chances of this happening?"

of gingerbread and little red cars... part 6

as they walked she pieced together many things....

the driver of the semi was on the phone calling a friend to come pick him up when these same two angels had gotten to his cab.
he was angered when they had to break his windshield to get him out of his cab.
he had refused medical attention and was released to a friend who had driven 40 minutes to pick him up.
the tanker had just been filled with 8000 gallons of several different fuels including diesel and gasoline.
fear was that explosion and/or fire was immanent
a hazmat team had been called in and the area had been evacuated

....except where she fit into the puzzle.

the more she tried the harder it became to reason and understand.
40 minutes had lapsed since the driver had called his friend.
a hazmat team had been assembled and was on site.
homes had been evacuated.
she had either been -or become- part of the accident.
but how could 40 minutes have passed without anyone knowing she was there?
no cops. no hazmat team members.
did the truck driver not even realize he'd hit her?
did he not ask? what about the car behind her? did they not see?
she wanted answers but the confused lump in her throat refused to allow her to ask the questions.

the farther they walked the more her eyes burned and the more her skin still crawled. her tongue felt too large for her mouth and every time she drew a breath it cut at her lungs like glass. she wanted to cry. for a moment she thought she had already begun but, in reality, it had quietly started to rain...

the three of them finally stopped just beyond several orange markers and found themselves standing with others who had been evacuated from their homes.
others who were eager to share their story with anyone who appeared from the darkness.
all their stories were similar, for fear of explosion from any kind of spark they had been forced to leave on foot without shutting their doors. flashlights had also been forbidden...

someone asked if it were true that once they'd all been evacuated power had been shut down to their homes because their cat had to be left behind.
another wanted to know where the three of them lived.
she tried to remember, but didn't accurately know. she thought it odd because she remembered exactly where her brother lived. in fact, she had begun to wonder just how far it was on foot from where she was and if she should walk there for help.  he would know what she should do. he would, wouldn't he?

she must have puzzled too long because again one of them asked; "where is it you live?"
the second angel with her stepped forward; "we don't live here." indicating herself and the angel in white; "the semi is blocking the highway and our car is parked on the other side."
"really? did you see what happened?"
"a gas tanker lost control and rolled over.  i think he hit her car." the angel answered indicating her.
a man in the crowd turned about sharply; "oh yeah, that semi hit a car all right! the car was right in front of my drive way. i think it was pulling out to make a U-Turn. i bet they left that driver for dead."
"this driver?" the angel pointed her out.
"what? are you kidding?" he turned toward her "you were driving that little red car? if that's true i want to hug you. you are charmed. there is no way you should be alive, let alone standing here.  somebody up there touched you in a very big way..."  he hesitated. "can i hug you?" he asked, but didn't wait for an answer.
he scooped her up, whispered something about miracles being real and hoping they had the ability to be transferred one to another by touch. he let his hands trail down her arms off the tips of her fingers as if he were taking something with him when he finally let her go.

from a world lost she watched people mulling about, attentions flittering between stories until she found herself standing there in the darkness alone. she knew she didn't belong here, but she wasn't certain where she did belong. she felt sick to her stomach and moved onto the side of the road but empty retching was all she could muster and instead used the cold wet snow to sooth the stinging of her face and eyes.

if i am alive, she thought, why can i not remember?

and why do i feel so entirely invisible...

of gingerbread and little red cars... part 5

"no. you aren't dead."

though the answer came in a serious tone meant to comfort, there was also a hint of brevity and the stifled chuckle behind her caused her to feel quite the fool for asking...

the voice behind her added; "but by the look of your side of that car i don't see how.  you sure you are okay?"

she mentally checked for anything amiss.  she was unsteady and disoriented but there was nothing else at all there, save the burning in her eyes and lungs. it was what she didn't feel (and even more so what she didn't understand) that she found most disturbing.  she opened her mouth to admit she really wasn't sure but, before she could a man stepped from the darkness barking orders; "why are you all still standing here?  i told you to move and move fast..."  she recoiled, shut down like a child being scolded, and kept the words in her mouth. her angel mumbled something she couldn't comprehend before it turned and planted itself between her and the barking man.

she realized then, this was not an angel, this was merely a woman dressed in a white sweatsuit with her hood pulled up to shield her from the cold.  still, an angel to her all the same. as was the woman behind her who now stepped forward barking back in the same manner; "show a little respect! i think that semi hit her, meaning there was another car involved and this was the driver."

the man took a step forward.  she could see now that he was in uniform - a sherrif to be exact.  he poked his flashlight at her and asked if she were okay and the words she'd kept in her mouth tumbled out quietly; "i really have no idea."  he barked again; "well if nothing hurts, move it!"

"asshole." her angel mumbled.  and the three started walking.

but she stopped.

she had to look back.

the semi was still there glinting in the moonlight long past the drive.  her car was there as well, still on the same side of the road looking as though she had pulled over and parked on the steep angle of the ditch bank.  but, something was odd; her car was facing her. odder still; it was parked at least 50 feet before the drive she had thought to turn into...

she was confused, that was certain, but she knew without a doubt that she had driven beyond the drive to the east, to allow the other driver a safe distance to turn in, and they were walking toward the west...

as they walked  the other two discussed details regarding the events they'd witnessed that night. details she could not remember. the tanker had fishtailed, tipped over, rolled a few times and then skidded to a hault. their concensus was that the driver had been traveling far over the speed limit and lost control on the slushy pavement.

she was filled with questions but none she could form seemed adequate and even when they were she was certain they would have no answer.

if the semi had indeed hit her, why did she not remember. and how did she not see something that big coming...

of gingerbread and little red cars... part 4

twice she took steps forward but slid back against the little red car where she remained trying to form confusion into something she could understand.

"don't be afraid" the voice beside her said, slipping an arm about her waist; "i've got you."

a hand appeared before her from the darkness;
"take my hand" said the muffled voice she'd heard before, but now it was somehow very clear and far more urgent.  she hesitated.

"you have to trust me. take my hand. we don't have a lot of time."

trust was never her best attribute and her confusion was not helping her decision. "i'm sure i can do it myself" she said, then almost as if against her will she reached out took hold and together the three of them moved from the slick slushy roadside onto the solid wet pavement.

it was cold. and dark. her eyes burned. her skin crawled. her lungs ached. she felt disoriented. worse than any of it was that she could make no sense of anything was going on around her. she fast realized she had no idea where she was, why she was there, who these people were or what they wanted from her. a passing thought made her wonder why her instincts were not telling her to run...

"what is going on?" she finally asked.

the once muffled voice let go of her hands, raised one arm, and pointed up the road.  she saw then, the figure was clothed completely in white... for that reason her eyes were compelled to follow.

and there laying on its side across the entire road glinting silver against the light from the moon  was a gasoline tanker whose contents were trickling onto the road.

"that gas tanker lost control. it fishtailed and rolled several times before it skidded to a stop.  gasoline is spilling out of it and they're afraid it may explode. the area is being evacuated and we have to move fast."

she tried to take it in.  but it loomed far too large in front of her. she tried to remember. why didn't she know this?  her eyes filled with tears and for lack of anything else that made sense she asked; "is he okay?"

the figure in white smiled broadly, spread her arms wide and took her in. "yes, he's fine. already gone home."

nestled against there against its breast something else occurred to her and the next question fell from her mouth in garbled form.

"am i dead?"

of gingerbread and little red cars - part 3

her vision fogged and she blinked.  but nothing looked right. things were fogged but glittery at the same time.
shimmering light was all around her and the shimmers were accompanied by tiny trickles of bright white that appeared as fingers... not unlike miniature lightening jags spreading out in front of her. confused, but intrigued all the same, she reached out to touch them. but, before she could a crack of thunder caught her attention. ah, its just rain on the windshield shimmering in passing car lights she thought feeling a bit silly.. but wait? that's odd?  wasn't she just at her brothers house?

the shimmer disappeared. her eyes again burned like fire and her lungs felt like they were laced with fiberglass when she drew in a breath.  and the thunder became more demanding. it was as if it were trying to rouse her from a slumber, and then it literally called out to her in muffled tone;

can you hear me? it asked.
"yes, i can hear you."  she answered though not at all certain she'd answered out loud.
it asked again, louder this time; "can you hear me?"
"yes, i can hear you" she answered.
"if you can hear me, you need to get out of your car right now!"
another voice boomed crisp and clear beside her; "wait! don't move!" it said to her, and then it called to the other voice. "this isn't good at all. let me talk to her first."
"well hurry" the muffled voice called back."we really have to get out of here right now!"
"are you in any pain?" the crisp voice asked.
"i don't think so?" she answered.  thinking it an odd question. "why?"
"can you move?"
still confused by the question she answered;" why wouldn't i be able to move?"
"do you think you can get out of your car?"
"i don't understand.  why do i need to get out of the car? i have places to go."
the voice laughed.  "not in this car you don't, so if you can move you need to get you out of your car as soon as possible. again, can you move?"
"and you are sure there is no pain anywhere?"
the crisp voice again called to the other; "this door is not going to open and the ditch is too deep for me to get a good enough grip to pull her out the window. if you can open that door maybe we can pull her out from that side."

wait. what? pull me out of my car?  what the hell is going on here?

"i can't open the door on this side, i think it's locked." the muffled voice called back.
"look, we really have to get you out of this car as soon as possible. can you reach the lock?" the crisp voice asked her.

"i can get in my own car and i'm sure i can get out." she said with marked defiance and then hoisted herself over the shift knob opened the passenger door, crawled out and stood upright beside the little red GEO.

of gingerbread and little red cars... part 2

the twinkling houses became fewer and in the envelope of darkness she realized a second too late that she had missed her turn.  she would have to go to the next road - whatever it might be.

she felt silly for missing her turn, after all the party was at was her sister-in-laws house and she'd been here so many times before. she couldn't picture the next road and started to hope it wasn't the on ramp to the highway. she certainly didn't want to deal with on ramps because who knew just how far she would have to travel before she could exit, and then she would still need to turn around and get back on the highway.

'god', she muttered to herself; 'nothing every goes as planned. and i wonder why i hate the holidays?'

then, up ahead on her right she noticed a house and a better thought crossed her mind; she could just turn around in its driveway.  she'd not have to deal with highway ramps at all. she'd not be late. and, if she didn't mention it, no one would be the wiser. she'd not have to catch the ribbing for missing a turn she'd taken so many times before.  therein came comfort and resolution.

she checked traffic.  just one car behind her - slushy december nights in the middle of nowhere tend to be like that - so she put on her right turn signal and pulled to the side of the road to turn into the drive.  the car behind her did the same. 'my dumb luck' she mused; 'what are the chances that this would be that cars drive?' remaining on the side of the road she pulled ahead of the drive enough to let it turn in.

as she stopped she noticed a road sign ahead that said 130th Avenue.  she had choices now. she could back up into the same drive and turn around. she could make a U-turn. or, she could travel to 130th Avenue and turn around there. factoring into her decision were three things; the roadside was slushy and wet; it was ditched quite deeply; she had a tiny red front wheel drive car that could turn on a dime.  any option was viable, unless she were to slide -or get stuck- in the slush. what to do.

what to do...

and then there was a clap of thunder accompanied by a flash of light and it started to rain.  'what the hell?' she moaned; 'add a winter storm to the mix, why not?' and reaching to turn on the wipers she realized she also had something in her eye; 'god, have i not had enough already today?' she tried to wipe that something away, but the more she tried the more she felt it and the more it burned. 'forget it, you will be at your brothers house in a matter of minutes and you can deal with it there.'

when she stepped through the door of her brothers house, her sister-in-law was at the sink with the window cracked open smoking a cigarette. one of her nieces busied herself sorting cookies with two other guests - one of whom was wearing a christmasy sweater - into white boxes the other niece was bringing out of the pantry. 'mom do you want these ones in here too?' she asked holding up a bag of cookies.

damn. she was sure the card said 7:30 but maybe it had said 7? in any case it didn't matter.

it was obvious that she was late...

of gingerbread and little red cars - part one

she had been invited to a cookie exchange party the week of christmas but tonight she just wasn't in the mood for celebrating. holidays had never been easy for her because they were cause to remember unpleasant things and nothing, no matter how much she wanted it to be, was quite right or quite enough... perhaps it was simple and boiled down to the lifelong expectation that something wonderful was about to happen but never ever did.

she had tried several times to describe this feeling to her mate but his perception of life was so completely different that it didn't allow him to understand just how much she struggled with the cheer that surrounded this time of year. in turn, she had also tried many times to see holidays through his eyes but, as much as she wanted it to be the way he said it was, she never could make it so. never could believe in wishes and dreams, because in her lifetime wishes and dreams never came true. even when they were promised.

that very point was being discussed as she readied herself to leave and in frustration the last thing she said to him as she walked out the door was; "with any luck at all, i won't even be here next year" and the last thing she heard him mumble was a very distinguishable; "whatever."

the december snows were sloshed onto the roads and twilight was beginning to fall as she made a quick stop at a small market to pick up last minute items. but, as always, nothing was exactly right and each item she picked from the shelf only served to create an argument of validity within her. a mere two items and much time later she headed for the checkout counter. ahead of her on the floor lay a penny. 'find a penny, pick it up and all that day you will have good luck' repeated in her head and she looked down at it thinking; head up is a good omen, head down is not - and this one was head down.  chuckling at how ridiculous all of this was she picked up the penny and shoved it into her coat pocket.  she then payed for her items, pulled on her gloves and headed out the door.  on the way to her car she marveled at just how fast twilight is swallowed by darkness in the winter months and wondered whether she should have left a bit earlier. she started her now chilly car and pulled from the parking lot and then turned onto the road and headed away from the city lights.

the radio softly played christmas melodies, the car smelled of freshly baked gingerbread, and homes here and there where adorned with twinkling christmas lights. she smiled, maybe for the first time since she'd left her house, knowing within minutes she would reach her destination and be greeted with smiles and coffee.

and whatever else had been going on in her head would quickly fade away....