August 1, 2008
By Cara Dorris, Glastonbury, CT

Darkness was inevitable on this night, and everything was consumed by it. All except the highway, which seemed to grow out of the farthest edges of obscurity and branch out for a couple lighted miles, before plunging back into the blackness. It was a snake. Only a lone station wagon rode on its icy back. Loretta pressed her arm against the frigid window and strained to hear the sound of another engine sputtering through the snow. The road was silent however, except for Mick’s occasional grunts as the tires lagged through inches of wintry nuisance. Loretta lit up a cigarette and opened the window. She watched the rings of smoke disappear into the twilight, silent echoes of the barrenness around them.
“Close the damn window,” Mick growled, “You’re going to have a hole through your throat, always lighting up like that.”
Loretta rolled up the window and glared at her boyfriend, “What do you expect? You’re making me nervous, driving like hell’s behind you.”
Mick grunted again, but didn’t answer. The road was teeming with ice, and the snow became heavier as they crept farther and farther along the highway. They were never going to get there at this pace. Mick slammed down on the pedal, and Loretta gasped, her head slamming against the seat as the car flew over the ice. The car bumped and jerked along the road, until it finally settled back into a safe speed. The road began to clear up and Mick sighed with relief.
“Well, I guess that ice has cleared up,” Mick said.
“It’s just so strange that all of a sudden it all disappeared,” Loretta whispered.
Before either of them could say another word, the car skidded on the road, the tires shrieking with fear as the car careened out of control, spinning recklessly before stopping with a thud. Loretta and Mick jerked forward in their seats, only seeing a flash of white and feeling a heavy blow to their faces.
Mick struggled to break free from the air bag, but Loretta lay motionless in her seat. She smelled something sweet, and groped her face. Cold liquid was running down her face as pain shot through her nose.
“Baby, you’re okay, right?” Mick asked, pulling the airbag from Loretta’s face. He gasped when he saw the blood smeared across her face.
“What the hell just happened?” Loretta seethed, “I feel like something just split my nose in half.”
“The airbag really did you in, coming out so fast,” Mick reached for a roll of stained paper towels under his seat, “Use these for now.”
Loretta covered her nose with a paper towel, tears in her eyes, “You’re driving way too fast. You could have had me killed.”
“Take a look outside! We’re practically stranded in a blizzard. How am I supposed to drive?” Mick asked.
“I want you to take me home, now!” Loretta demanded, through nervous tears.
Mick pressed his foot to the pedal, and the car began to accelerate then slowly died. He did it again, and again, but the engine sputtered and failed. Something was blocking the car.
“What’s the problem now?” Loretta asked.
Mick didn’t answer though and stepped out of the car, the slamming of the door reverberating through the night.
“What’s the matter?” Loretta asked.
There was no answer. Loretta stepped out of the car and looked to see what was blocking it. Yet, the road was undoubtedly clear. Not even a square of ice dirtied the area. Loretta and Mick gaped into the darkness, not sure whether to get back into the car. All the while, the snake laughed, a deep belly laugh.

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