Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: ROAD TRIP (vacation) (07/02/15)
TITLE: Timing is Everything
By Shari Armstrong
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“I know, sweetie. Y’all be careful going home. Call me.”
My husband hugged his mom. “We will, Mom. Love you.”
“Love you, too.” She leaned into the backseat to hug and kiss our daughter. “I miss my baby already!”
“Bye, Nina!” At nearly two, she wasn’t really a baby anymore.
I got behind the wheel, as my husband snuggled into the passenger seat with his pillows, so he could nap for the first half of the trip. I made sure our daughter had her sippy cup, at least till she would inevitably decide to toss it on the floor, and we were headed back north.
After a quick stop to fill up the gas tank and get a couple bottles of pop, we were on the freeway. Radio station hopping commenced to keep me entertained. Traffic was much slower than usual, it seemed to take forever to get out of the Memphis area. It wasn’t even rush hour, as we timed our trips to avoid it. By about Jackson, things had finally started to move, but I needed a rest stop. Then it slowed down again in Nashville, crawling our way through.
It was going to be a long, long drive home. Thankfully, our little girl fell asleep shortly after hitting the freeway. Not having a fussy toddler in the back seat was always a blessing.
Once we got into Kentucky, the pop I had been sipping on was making demands on my bladder again. We were about a mile or two to the next route we needed to go home, so I decided to keep driving, instead of making a quick stop at the exit right before it. Traffic got slower, and slower, eventually turning the north bound lane into a parking lot. I was beginning to regret not getting off at the last exit.
I realized we weren’t going anywhere any time soon, so I turned off the car. People were getting out of their cars and walking around. I saw some people coming back with fast food bags from the previous exit. I was really glad we had snacks in the car. I unbuckled the munchkin and changed her pull-up, as she was starting to get fussy.
A muffled voice came from the pillow, “Might as well leave her unbuckled, doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere soon.”
“You’re right, it doesn’t,” I agreed.
The arrival of emergency vehicles confirmed my suspicions that there was an accident ahead of us. I was now thankful for the delayed traffic earlier in our trip, as it probably kept us out of the accident. However, I was regretting not taking the previous exit for a restroom break. At least the munchkin was playing with toys and enjoying her snacks, oblivious to the traffic problems.
The emergency vehicles were joined by helicopters. “That’s not good…”
My husband was wide awake now.
I watched as more people were walking back and forth. I thought about walking back to the restroom, but I was worried traffic would start back up again and I’d be halfway to a gas station. Hours passed and it started to get dark. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I grabbed one of our daughter’s wipes from the diaper bag and walked to the line of trees just off the edge of the freeway, and noticed several other shadowed figures doing the same. Traffic finally started moving again, nearly six hours later.
Once we got home, I was able to look online to see what had happened. A lady coming south-bound, driving the same make and model car we owned, had jumped the median, did a 180, landing in the north-bound lane, maybe a mile in front of us. She caused a multi-car pileup and several people had to be life-flighted out. Those traffic delays that had annoyed me so much earlier probably kept us from being in the accident. This wasn’t the first time God had kept me out of an accident because of traffic delays and other annoyances. I’ve had to learn to be patient, even though I get very anxious in heavy traffic, and always remind myself that it could have been a lot worse.
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