Writing Taunts – Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded. Photographers, artists, poets: show us OTHER.
At what time in my life my fear of driving developed, I do not remember. I remember being a confident driver. I remember driving straight through, back and forth from Chicago to Bowmanville, Ontario, pumped up on coffee. Driving the expressways through Gary, Indiana during rush hour were the absolute worst, but, I was young, I knew the rules of the road and I was not nervous nor fearful, other drivers seemed to observe the same ‘rules of the road’ that I did. But, it was a different time. It was the 1970’s. There were less vehicles on the road, less drivers than there are today. People were still in hurries, but, somehow, they stayed focused on driving.
By the time 1996 rolled around, my driving fear had already developed. I think it had something to do with my fear of being the sole parent of my children. It wasn’t divorce that took my husband away from me, it was an untimely death. My life suddenly grew in importance as I feared what might happen to my children if I would die in a senseless car wreck. That fear is my constant companion, even now, all these years later, even though my children are grown and have families of their own. I am still, “Chicken Driver.”
One day, August 13, 1996 to be exact, I was to meet up with my girlfriends for our “girl’s night out.” Typically, we met on Wednesday nights at a pub which was central for all of us. For some reason, our Wednesday meet was changed to Tuesday. As I shut down my computer and looked at the heavy monsoon rains outside, I decided it wasn’t a good idea to have a few drinks during the heavy rains. I tried calling Karen’s work to let her know I wouldn’t meet them, but, there was no answer. Oh well, I would try again after I got home, just to let them know I wasn’t coming.
It has been my observation that people drive faster during terrible weather. Monsoon season drivers are no different. My mind began to ease as my thirty minute commute home brought me to within five minutes of walking through my front door. At the red light down the street, I considered turning into the strip mall where I could buy a lottery ticket for Wednesday’s draw. For some reason, fate, destiny, I will never know, but I did NOT turn that corner to take an extra five or ten minutes to buy the ticket, instead, I turned the corner at the light and progressed to the first street where I could turn left – my street. The street my home was on. I was less than one mile from home.
With my headlights on, my turn signal on, windshield wipers clunking back and forth at their fastest speed, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a huge, white pickup truck progressing up the hill. I had no thought about it. And then, it happened. My life changed forever. The moron driving that white, dually pickup drove through my little Honda Accord’s back seat. There were no skid marks to indicate she even tried to stop.
I woke up with my head hanging over the steering wheel, the seat belt supporting my limp body. Disoriented, I looked around and felt the excruciating pain in my back, saw the broken back window and assumed I had been shot in a drive-by shooting. “I’m dying!!” I thought and tried reaching behind me to see how badly I was bleeding.
Releasing myself from the seat belt, I opened my door, stumbled into traffic, lucky to not be ran over, I screamed for help. Someone grabbed me and told me to sit in my car, they had called an ambulance, and that’s when I saw the accident. My trunk had been accordioned into my back seat. My thought immediately veered to my children. Where are they? Where’s my baby?
Of course, none of my children were with me. They were not babies anymore. But, they were still living at home. I needed to live!
And so, I did and so did my sons. Had I turned that different corner, into the strip mall to buy a lottery ticket, I think this accident and the damage to my spine would have been averted. But, then again, a different, perhaps more lethal disaster may have awaited me. There is no advantage to suppositions, it is, what it is.