Brake Lights

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The taillights in front of me blazed red, he was stopping, fast, and I was barreling straight for him.  I slammed the brakes and felt the anti-lock feature pumping the pedal beneath my foot. My right hand flew to the passenger seat to stop my purse from tumbling to the floorboards. Too late. I was getting closer to the car’s rear bumper and I couldn’t stop. The anti-lock brakes still pumped the pedal, but my tires skimmed across the wet pavement. There was a car to my right, no escape route. In my rear-view mirror, I saw the horrified face of the driver behind me. He was too close. I had no intention of becoming the middle of a sandwich.

Both hands clutching the wheel, I yanked it to the left. Terrified the action might send me into a spin, I prepared to steer into the skid. I prayed the shoulder was wide enough to maneuver without hitting the cement divider and ricochet me into a collision I wanted to avoid.

My car shuttered and shook as the tires hit rumble boards and loose gravel. That bit of resistance stopped me from hydroplaning, the traction violently slowed the car’s forward motion. My whole body lurched forward, the seat belt locked, digging into my shoulder. White knuckles gripped the steering wheel, and I screamed as the windshield raced to connect with my face. The car stopped throwing me against the seat. The purse and its contents disappeared underneath the passenger seat. My heart raced, my pulse throbbed in my ears and I gasped air. My hands held their death grip on the steering wheel. I forced myself to let go of the wheel, my hands shook, and I wanted to cry. I slid the drive shifter into Park.

The man in the car behind me slid to a stop gently kissing the bumper of the car I had been following. Three lanes of traffic doing sixty-five miles an hour come to a dead stop. I hugged the steering wheel allowing fear and tensions to ebb.

A tap on my side window startled me. The man from the car behind me stared at me.

“You ok?” He asked as I opened the window.

“Yeah, I’m fine. How are you?”

“I thought I was dead. The brakes locked. I couldn’t stop. So, I closed my eyes and waited for the collision. But it didn’t happen. My car stopped. I opened my eyes, and you had disappeared. But here you are. What happened?”

“I swerved.”

“You did more than that, you saved my life.”

We smiled like fools and laughed.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

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