Monday, October 10, 2011


Mascara streaks down my face as I plod down the dark, rain-soaked road. I can’t believe he actually made me get out of the car. He’s threatened to do it before, but I thought it was just something he said to gain the upper-hand during one of our all-too-frequent arguments. What am I supposed to do now? There isn’t any reception on my cell-phone out here. Of course. It’s at least thirty miles to the nearest gas station. Awesome. This sort of shit always happens to me. I should have just kept my mouth shut, but I always need to have the last word. I always have to go for the low blow. I basically did this to myself.

The cold rain beats down savagely¸ and I’m irritated by how clichéd it is. But Jeremy probably won’t leave me out here for long. I suspect he’s just trying to prove a point. He’ll circle back around to pick me up, once I’m sufficiently sodden and repentant. But I’m not going to give him the satisfaction. I’m going to make him feel guilty for tossing me on the side of a backwoods road, at full dark, no less. I’m hitching a ride with the next vehicle that passes. I’m going to get home before he has a chance to find me, and I’m going to ignore his calls. Hopefully he’ll fear the worst has happened. Serves him right.

What feels like an eternity later I spot headlights in the distance. I hope it’s not Jeremy; I’m intent on proving my point. I jet my thumb out, and hope that the driver a) Can see me in the pitch dark, and b) isn’t an ax-wielding maniac. Much to my surprise and delight, the silver four-door family car slows to a stop a couple yards ahead of me.

I tentatively approach the driver’s side window. When it rolls down, I quickly appraise the driver to determine the likelihood that he is, in fact, an ax-wielding maniac. He is middle-aged, with salt and pepper hair cut in typical middle-aged man fashion, and sports a light beard and grey coat. The car looks clean, despite the cigarette smoke billowing out the window. No weapons or suspicious looking paraphernalia in sight. Overall, looking good.

“What on earth are you doing out here in the pouring rain? Hop in. I’ll give you a lift.”

“Thanks!” I can’t believe my luck at nabbing the very first passing vehicle.

I quickly scurry in front of the car en route to the passenger side door. I open the door, hesitate for a moment, and drop into the seat.

“Sorry, I’m getting your car soaking wet,” I say. The seat squishes under my weight; it’s already saturated.

“Oh, don’t worry about it. This car’s seen worse.” He smiles politely and tosses his cigarette butt out the window. “So where you headed to?”

“Just to the nearest gas station,” I reply, trying to mask the anxiety in my voice. I’ve never hitched a ride before.

The car jerks forward, and we start to pick of speed. Several minutes pass, and it’s eerily quiet in the car, without even the sound of the radio to fill the silence. I stare forward at the wiper blades whizzing back and forth. Finally, he speaks.

“So how did you end up out in the middle of nowhere, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I got into a fight with my boyfriend and he kicked me out of the car.” My cheeks heat, and I’m glad that it’s too dark for him to see.

“Hmm. Not very gentlemanly. Not a very nice way to treat a lady.” He shakes his head in a disapproving manner.

“Oh…um, yeah I know,” I say, fidgeting in my seat.

“So, does this boyfriend of yours always treat you so unkindly?” He turns to watch me respond. His mouth is set in a hard line, and I look away quickly, like I’ve been caught doing something I shouldn’t.

“Um, well… I guess we fight a lot,” I stutter. This line of questioning is getting a little too personal for my taste. I try to concentrate on looking forward.

“Well he shouldn’t just dump you on the side of the road like that. You’re not a piece of garbage to be tossed away.”

“No, um, I guess not.” I laugh, fiddling with the zipper on my coat.

We drive several more minutes in silence. In my peripheral vision I can see that he’s looking at me. I refuse to meet his gaze.

“Well, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

“What?” I say, even though I heard what he said.

“Nevermind,” he replies, shaking his head.

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? My palms begin to sweat, and my heart beats a little faster. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

I hazard a glance in his direction, and I catch him staring at me again. He smirks, and I look away quickly. He doesn’t take his eyes off me, and the car begins to veer slightly to the right.

“Watch out!” I say, pointing forward.

He pulls the steering wheel to the left and the car swerves on the slick road. I clutch the sides of my seat. My heart pounds so furiously that it feels like it might burst right out of my chest.

“Are you okay?” he says, placing his hand on my arm in phony concern. I instinctively shrug it off. His eyes bore into me for a moment, and then he looks away, squaring his shoulders. He clutches the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles turn white. He mumbles something unintelligible.

“You know what, this is pretty close,” I say. “I think I can walk the rest of the way.”

“Don’t be silly. I’m not going to let you walk in the rain.”

“No really, my boyfriend is probably going to be back to look for me, and he’ll worry when he can’t find me.” I look in the rearview mirror hoping to see headlights. No such luck.

"Why should you worry about him? He wasn’t too worried about you when he abandoned you, was he?”

Fuck this.

I slowly inch my right hand closer to the door handle. When the car slows down enough, I’m getting the hell out of this car.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he barks.

I feel like I’m in a movie. This can’t be happening to me. I quickly grab the door handle, but he clenches my arm before I get it opened. The car careens wildly until he slams on the breaks.

I put all my force into pulling my arm free, but I can’t because he’s grasping so tightly. I use my free arm to claw at his eyes. He yelps, and lets go of me to clutch at his face.

I open the passenger side door and tumble out of the car. In my peripheral vision I can see that that he’s hunched over my seat. “You bitch!” he calls after me. “Get back here!”

I instinctively start to run forward but quickly realize that I need to get off the road. I can’t outrun him on foot. I’ll have to hide in the woods.

I jump into the ditch that lines the road, and then dart into the dense woods. The complete and utter darkness forces me to slow my pace. Jogging blindly, I stumble every few seconds. I glance behind me, expecting him to be right on my trail. I don’t see him. He could be nearby, but the rain is so loud that I wouldn’t hear him coming anyway.

I look all around, knocking into trees and madly thrashing at the branches that I think are my attacker. From the corner of my eye I see movement in the distance. There he is. I can see him clearly, even though it’s pitch-black, because his headlights illuminate the road. He’s standing next to his car, with his hands on his hips, looking into the woods. He never came running after me. I breathe a sigh of relief. I hope that he doesn’t think better of letting me escape and decide to come after me.

I stop running and watch him. I have the advantage here. I can see him, but he can’t see me. After a few minutes, he gets back into his car and drives away. I realize that I’ve been holding my breath. I let it out, and I try to breathe deeply, but I can’t calm down and begin to hyperventilate.

Breathe. Just breathe. I sob so hard that I feel like I’m going to vomit.

Now that his headlights have faded away, I realize how intensely dark it is. When I needed an escape, I hadn’t thought twice about running into the woods. But now that the danger has passed, I am suddenly aware of how creepy it is. I need to get out of here.

I wait a couple minutes to make sure that he’s far enough away, and I begin my trek back towards the road. The more I think about my surroundings, the faster I walk, until I realize I’m running. Branches claw at my ankles and send me lurching forward. I know I should walk slower, but I am desperate to get out. As I approach the edge of the woods, I see headlights approaching. I scramble up the ditch and start frantically waving my arms.

“Help! Somebody help me please!” I don’t care if it’s Jeremy or not, I just want to get home. I continue yelling and waving, but the car doesn’t slow down. I guess I wouldn’t slow down for me either. I must look like a raving lunatic.

Suffocating darkness surrounds me. The rain is unforgiving. It pummels down harder than ever, like it’s trying to beat me into submission. My breaths ragged, I run along the shoulder of the road, intermittently testing out my cell-phone for reception. Nothing.

But wait. There. There’s a light in the distance. I am drawn towards it like a moth to a flame. I pick up my pace now that I have something to run towards other than darkness, darkness, and more darkness. As the light gets closer I can see that it’s coming from a cottage. I stop at the end of a long gravel driveway to catch my breath. Golden light filters through the window. I try to calm down and steady my breathing before I approach, but it’s no use.

I pound on the door. “Please help me! Somebody open up. Help me, please!” The door opens and my breath catches in my throat. He gives me that same intense look. The look says it all.

1 comment:

Michelle Krys said...

Wow, great story! Had my attention the entire time, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened in the end. Wasn't disappointed.