Friday, February 15, 2008

Slip Sliding, by Kathryn Magendie

It's pitch black. I’ve inched my way from Waynesville to my little town, and I'm at the point I've dreaded since I left rehearsals for Bat Boy the Musical. Earlier, when I drove to Hart Theater, I knew better, but this is my first theater play and I didn’t want to let the other actors down. “Foolish!” I say to the night sky. “Foolish!” I say to the road that leads up to my house. I sit in my Subaru, the engine’s rumble doesn’t cover the creek’s cry—the only sounds to the mountain night. Fear curls itself into my insides and comes out of my pores in heated waves. For I am afraid that under the thin layer of snow is a thin layer of ice. Early morning, the temperatures were relatively high for February, but as the day went by, temperatures dropped, and by evening, it was below freezing. There’d been a few flakes of snow, but nothing major—but the roads were wet, and…well…did I say I knew better?

I take a deep breath and inch up the incline, another stupid mistake, and no sooner am I at its sharp point than my wheels begin a slow dreamy spin and then I am sliding backwards, into the pitchy night, sliding towards…towards—what is behind me? I can't remember how far of a dropoff, and…what else is back there? I know not to push my brakes—even though that's what my heart screams for me to do; instead, I turn my steering wheel and hope for the best. My face burns with anxiety, my body tenses, ready to plummet into darkness, into…where? Where? Blackness. Trees? A dropoff of how far? Rocks? Where where am I going?

The car suddenly stops. I take deep breaths, put my Subaru into park, pull up the emergency brake, open the window and gulp air. Cautiously, I open the car door and step into the cold dark night—my left rear tire is against a grouping of rocks. The mountain saved me. There’s nothing to do but leave the car and trek up the road to my house—I call Roger and he says, "I'm coming." And he did. We walk in the cold, up up the incline, and, finally, back into the warmth of my log house. I feel strangely exhilarated, and can’t quit babbling. Despite the terror I felt as I slid backwards in that slow dreamy slide, I wouldn’t live anywhere else—this mountain is my home; this mountain requires my respect, and this night the mountain reminded me my lesson. Respect nature. Respect the mountain. I walk onto our porch, and to the cold dark air I whisper, “Thank you for saving me…” The creek laughs. The night smiles. The mountain cradles. I go back inside.


Nannette Croce said...

I respect mountains the same way I respect wild cats and grizzlies. Mostly I leave them alone.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Whew! What a close call. Glad you are okay. NOW STAY HOME UNTIL SPRING!!

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