Yesterday was a strange day. First was all the frustration with the intermittent internet connection and getting that repaired. In the middle of all that, while I had a few minutes of connection, I tried to make sense of Twitter and researched book promo again. (Like my internet connection, my research has been intermittent, searching for answers until I get frustrated then days or weeks or months later, trying again.) And then the strangest of all . . .
I’d gone to the Sierra Club conditioning walk in an effort to walk more. (Ever since I started yammering about an epic walk of some sort, I’ve been walking less, as if talking about it precluded actually putting one foot in front of the other.)
On the way back, I was driving down a mostly empty street. I was on the far left lane, and I could see someone paused in the center turn lane. As I neared that vehicle, it suddenly swung out in the street and crossed directly in front of me. I had no time to put on the brakes, so I veered into the curb, hoping to get away from her. Apparently, she had been trying to get into the driveway, and never did anything to avoid me. Didn’t put on the brakes, didn’t try to get away from me, didn’t do anything, actually. So I ran into her.
It scared the heck out of me, seeing this car perpendicular to mine and not being able to do anything to avoid a collision, and yet, I was able to slow down enough that not much damage was done. A bit of a bent fender on my car, an indented scratch on hers. She jumped out of her gray Hyundai and blamed me for driving with my lights off. Huh? How could I have seen the road if my lights were off? By that time, of course, my lights were off. When I shut off my engine, the headlights go off in a battery-saving effort, and since I had turned off my engine, the headlights were off, too. But she kept on and on about how it was my fault.
The cops showed up, and talked to us separately. One police car had been driving by and might have called for backup, or maybe someone else had called them and he waited until the others came. But two or three vehicles pulled up at once (one could have been an ambulance, I’m not sure. As I recently wrote, I’m not the most observant person in the world.)
From the cops’ point of view, the whole matter was trivial, and so they didn’t write a report. (At least that’s what they said. I’m sure they logged it into their call records or whatever they do to keep track of their activities.) It’s possible the other woman talked them out of filing a report because they told me she agreed to take care of her damage if I took care of mine. Some people think this sounds strange, but I understand. The cops hadn’t seen how close to death I had been. If I’d been second slower or her one second faster, she would have rammed into the side of my car, and who knows how badly I would have been hurt. I was just glad the ending of the story was so felicitous. The tow truck driver they called pulled my fender away from the tire, put on my spare, and that’s all it took. At one point, I told the cop I couldn’t stop shaking. He shrugged and said, “This is all very minor.”
Luckily, I hadn’t yet taken the VW into the body shop to do what restorations they can and I hadn’t yet gotten new tires. (I would have had to get them in a few months, so I’m getting all new tires instead of just the one.)
Oddly, I’ve been extra careful lately when driving, feeling some sort of doom in the air. Even odder, I didn’t really have any reaction to this strange twist of fate except the physical result of adrenaline. No anger, no tears, nothing but confusion about how it could have happened.
I consider myself fortunate. Death was riding on my shoulder (or maybe it was standing on the shoulder of the road waiting), and it decided it had no use for me. At least not yet.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.