Redeeming the Time

Short Story Day 53 of 365

The Shermans left the Christmas party at a reasonable hour, that is, before ten that night. Raife had studied the weather for days and was convinced a storm was coming through. With a four-hour drive ahead of them, going through a Winter storm at night was not a pleasant thought.

Just as they pushed the elevator button for their hotel room, he noticed the flurries starting to fall.

“Good call,” he told his wife.

Their plan would be to rise early and get on the road at the break of light. They’d beat traffic and get home before noon, that is, under sunny sky conditions.

They packed up, ate a good breakfast, checked out, and loaded their car by seven. Just before they exited the garage, Raife ran checks on the car to make sure the lights, headlights, and wipers were working perfectly. The car had already been warming up so they knew the heat was great.

Snow continued to pour down as they slowly made it to the highway. He skidded straight through an intersection with his foot all the way to the floor with the brakes. The ABS had engaged but it still wasn’t enough to stop them. Fortunately, none of the cars at the intersection had moved forward.

The interstate to their home was two lanes each way separated by thickets of trees.

Tow trucks were out in full force this morning and only one lane was being used each way. Both ruts of one lane filled as quickly as each car passed. On this 75 mph highway, going over 30 was generating quite a bit of business for the towing industry. Twenty was closer to the safest speed.

When Raife thought it was safe to speed up a bit, he saw another car off the side of the road in a ditch, so he let off the gas pedal. Sometimes the drivers were out of the car on their cell phones; and others, they just waited.

No one was going anywhere fast, and they paid dearly if they did.

The traffic had slowed to a halt and the flashing lights ahead indicated a significant incident. 

As the Shermans pulled alongside the six-car accident, the tow driver was working with the drivers to fill out all the required paperwork before hauling their vehicles away.

The third car in the chain had rammed the back of a pickup, and the impact was forceful enough that the hood of the car rested under the truck bed. The wheels of the truck were off the ground.

Raife did a double take at the car under the truck and said to his wife, “Well, at least the lady in the car’s making the best use of her time.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, you didn’t see? She’s in the driver’s seat reading a paperback novel.”

His wife looked out at the falling snow, the snow ruts in the road, and the disabled vehicles beside them.

“Really? Might as well. It’s not as if she’s going anywhere soon.”

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