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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Car Trouble

She was drinking coffee. Bad idea. But she knew if she didn't she would go find alcohol - and for an alcohol intolerant person that was even worse of an idea. So the coffee worked as a distraction. For a few moments. Then it would all come back and she would reach for another marshmallow. The bag was almost half-empty already. She would eat one - or five - every time it came back. Every time she remembered.

She kept telling herself it wasn't that bad. Nothing had actually happened. She was fine and she was safe. But that refrain kept coming into her head and parading like a demented mechanical chicken. My car was on fire. I could have died.

She had taken a long bath and had bought new clothes (well, they were used, but still, new to her) to put distance between herself and what had happened. Also, to get away from the burnt car smell that clung to her like a needy boyfriend.

The car ride had started out well enough, except for the delay. She had taken a wrong turn and ended up in Pittsburgh. But she had pulled out her map and been able to find her way back to 79 South. It had been about an hour out of the way, but it could have been worse, and she had been able to figure it out all on her own without a GPS. Just an old beat up atlas.

That's when her car started acting funny. She had gone to the nearest gas station, just to be sure. Everything looked fine. All fluids where they needed to be, no leaking, tires good.

I should have called my dad. But she hadn't. It had driven without problem for about an hour. That's when the smoke started. And then the panic. She dialed home. No answer. Her dad. Still no answer. Mom? Yes. She was driving but would call back. She hung up.

It smelled like smoke. Like a lot of smoke. She was just thinking of getting out of the car when someone pulled over in front of her. A small white car. A man jumped out and ran to her, so she rolled down her window.

"Yours car is on fire. You need to get out."

The panic. The waiting. The continual phone calls. Fire fighters pulling stuff out of the back of her car and tossing it aside while they tried to cool the car down. It was too hot. There was so much smoke. This isn't real. This doesn't happen in real life. But it was happening. Later, car dropped off at a shop, waiting for her dad to pick her up, she walked through the dollar store and felt nothing. She was walking. She was standing. Her eyes were open. But no sense data was coming through. There was nothing. Just a floating body of white noise. So she got a hotel room and took a bath and put on her new clothes and called her grandmother.

That's when the shaking started. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if worse things had happened to her. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad it she knew she could afford a new car. Or if she wasn't alone in West Virginia.

She took another sip of the coffee she wasn't supposed to be drinking and reached for another marshmallow. She waited for her dad to come and for the shaking to stop.