Flashes

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I felt the pound of rain on the top of my car’s hood. I sat in the driver’s seat, panicking, my mind was racing with a thousand thoughts. I spun around in my seat and intently checked on my one-year-old. She was still sleeping.
“What just happened?” I asked myself.

Then, just as the rain floods the earth, memories came flooding back into my head. I remembered that I had been driving, and that it was pouring down with rain, as it still was. I remembered crossing a bridge.
“A bridge, a bridge, a bridge.” I kept repeating to myself, trying to remember which one. Another flash of memory came. It was the small ancient bridge over the lake near my grandparent’s house. Another flash. My flashes of memory gain seemed to correspond with the flashes of lightening covering the vast sky. This flash invoked me to remember why I was going over the bridge. My daughter Amy and I were spending this Thanksgiving with my grandparents. They practically raised me, but after I moved away, my visits became less frequent. So this November, feeling remorse for my past desertion, I decided to surprise them by coming up to celebrate Thanksgiving with Amy, who they had yet to meet.

Another flash, I remember that the skies had opened up as I was climbing the steep hills of the Montana road to my grandparent’s house. I remember that the roads had become instantly slick due to the past showers that the region had experienced. I remember reducing my speed to accommodate for the new weather conditions. I remember approaching the bridge, but I don’t remember reducing my speed.
“God!” I cried out, “Why didn’t I slow down more?”

Another flash, I remember my car hydroplaning. I remember losing all control of my car. I remember hitting the barrier and I remember, I remember. I remember feeling the bridge crack and break underneath my car!

I hesitantly turned, almost too afraid to look, and peered out the window. The bridge was separated in half, the way it might be after being struck by an earthquake. It was raining too hard to know for certain, but I felt sure that my car was hanging half way, or maybe even three-fourths of the way off the bridge. Leaving my car dangling helplessly over the thirty-foot-deep lake.

As I gazed out of my fogged up window I felt something drip onto my leg. I looked down, it was red. Another drop fell; it was coming from my head. I flipped down my visor and opened the mirror inside. From my reflection in the mirror I saw a gash in my forehead about four inches long and as wide as a tube of lipstick. Lipstick, lipstick. Lipstick was in my bag. My bag. My cell phone was in my bag. My bag. Where was my bag? I frantically looked around for it. I finally spotted it on the mat of the passenger’s seat. As I leaned forward to grab it, I heard my car creak and felt it advance forward. I stopped. I was afraid that if I went any further to retrieve it, the whole car would tip and fall into the freezing water that lay below me. I knew, however, that we would not survive unless I called for help. So in one, swift motion I swept down, as a hawk might when capturing its prey, and clutched my bag. I leaned back in my seat after successfully grabbing it, breathing heavily.

After my breathing resumed to its normal pattern, I opened my bag. I found my cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. After what seemed like hours the receptionist finally answered.
“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”
“Yes hello,” I answered as calmly as I could, “my daughter and I were on the way to my grandparent’s house and we went over a very old bridge, and I started hydroplaning, and we went into a barrier which made the bridge crack in two, and now we are dangling over the lake.”
“Alright Ma'am,” said the receptionist, “where is the exact location of the bridge that you are currently on.”

I began to reply when my worst fear happened; I felt the car slide over the edge of the bridge. Everything happened in slow motion after that. Slowly, my cell phone slipped from my panic stricken hand. Slowly, I let out a piercing scream as my car plunged head on into the bone chilling water. I was on a roller coaster ride that no one wants to ride, one that only appears in nightmares.

The initial impact was so forceful, that unless you have experienced it, you would not realize its horrendous effects. For a moment I was disoriented and couldn’t remember what had happened. Then, Amy’s screaming brought me out of my daze. While gripping my forehead, which now pounded more than ever, I reached back, undid Amy’s car seat, pulled her out from it, and clutched her against my chest. I rocked in my seat and patted her back, whispering in her ear that everything would be alright. After she stopped crying, I decided that it was time for us to get out of this prison, which seemed intent on entombing us forever.

Having automatic powered windows, I knew that unrolling the window wasn’t an option. So I tried opening the door, I was a fool to think for even a minute that I could open it. I will have to bash the window I thought. I set Amy down on the passenger’s seat and prepared myself to bang against it. I put my feet up against the window and started kicking as hard as I could. My heart soared as I heard glass break. I moved my feet to inspect the damage I had made.

It was only a tiny crack. I might as well have thrown a pebble at my window; it would have done the same amount of damage. Exasperated from my previous kicking, I sat a minute, regaining my breath. I looked over at Amy, she was looking at me intently, but when she noticed me looking at her, she smiled and held up her arms.
“I’ll hold you in a minute, sweetie,” I said.

I turned back to the window and decided I would kick it again. This time I made sure that this kick would make a difference. I mustered all of my remaining strength and kicked as hard as I could.
Crack!

I felt what seemed like a gallon of water fall onto my legs. I quickly sat up and looked at the window.
“****it!”

I had broken through one thin layer of glass. The other layer only had a hole in it the size of a penny, which was just enough room for the water to squeeze through, into my car. As I followed the water’s trail, I realized there was already a puddle forming on my mat. Horrified, I swung my feet back up to the window and began to deliver frantic kicks. It wasn’t working. If anything, more water seemed to be flowing in. Nevertheless, I continued kicking until I had no energy remaining. I regained my breath and began again. As I was kicking I knew in my mind that I would never be able to break through the window, but my heart told me to keep going. Bits of shattered glass fell and cut into my legs; the blood dripped down from my scratched legs onto the floor and mixed with the water that was steadily flowing into my car.

After another minute of kicking, I decided to catch my breath again. I put my aching legs down and gasped. I looked down and saw water climbing up my shins. The water was freezing; making me feel as though my legs were submerged in a bucket full of ice.

I looked over at Amy again, she was now not only staring at me, but also at the hole that was now the size of a quarter. I wondered what she was thinking. What thoughts could possibly be going through her head? Did she know something was wrong or did she just think we were in something equilavent to a car wash?

I was pulled away from my thoughts by the icy water’s advancement up my leg. I positioned my legs one last time and began kicking and screaming with frustration. All the while knowing that it was no use, knowing that the window would never break, knowing that I would never be able to break us free from our confinement.

I slowly brought my legs down for the final time, exasperated. I shuddered; the water was now up to my knees. I leaned over and picked up Amy. I rocked her as she clutched her arms around my neck. I felt my tears slide down my cheek. I saw them drop into the water that was climbing up to the level of my seat. I squeezed Amy and pushed her cheek against mine.
“I’m sorry sweetie, I’m so sorry, Mommy thought she could get us out, Mommy thought she could.”

I kissed Amy on the head and held onto her tightly. I felt her heart beat against mine as we silently slipped away into the November water.





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