A Short Story
I’m late again! I glance at the time display on my iPhone as I squeeze-hop into my stiletto boots. The heels kill my feet, and I stumble towards the front door, but I wouldn’t wear anything else for an event like this.
I open the door to a grey sky. Rain pours down miserably. I just spent 35 minutes doing my hair, another 25 on my makeup. Those huge grey drops could ruin an hour’s worth of work in seconds. I dash to my bedroom and open my closet. My eyes scan the dense row of clothes.
“Just chill, chill, just chill,” my phone announces.
I check the text from my best friend. Where are you?
On my way, I quickly text back before shoving the phone in my back pocket. I wrench a jacket free of its place in the closet and pull it over my low-cut top.
The rain is now a downpour but I am prepared for this grey omen of bad-hair days. I dash to my mini Cooper as quickly as my stilettos allow. Once in the safety of the car, I switch on the heat. Within moments, my favorite song is blasting through the air … and I’m going to see them live in less than an hour!
“Just chill, chill, just chill.” I glance quickly at the text. The line is crazy long. Can’t believe ur not here!
Nearly there, I text back. I ease onto the freeway and accelerate. Finally, no more lights and crosswalks. I steer onto the middle lane, passing two semis and an old mustang. I merge onto the left lane and push past eighty. Making up for lost time.
“Just chill, chill, just chill.” Slowing back into the middle lane, I reach for my phone. They’ve opened the doors. Line’s moving fast.
“Argh!” I look back at the road. Crunch! Something smashes into the left side of the car, shattering the window and sending shards of glass that sting as they hit me. The sudden rush of rain and wind takes my breath away. I swerve the wheel and my Cooper careens far right, smashing into the low metal fencing on the edge of the freeway.
Cars speed by, honking loudly. I feel my Cooper shake with every vehicle that passes. I quickly hit the emergency light switch. Where is my phone? I look around me and finally find it near the brake pedal. As if on cue, my text message tone goes off again. “Just chill, chill. Just chill.”
U almost here? I’m at the door.
I try to ignore the cars speeding past. A driver shouts at me. I fumble with the screen. Had an accident on the freeway. Might be late. Flecks of red liquid spread on my hands where broken glass has pierced my skin.
“Just chill, chill. Just chill.” I open the message. That sucks. I’ll save you a seat.
Tears spring to my eyes and I can feel my throat closing up. I try to focus on the horizon, the cars weaving through the traffic, disappearing into the distance where grey meets grey.
“Save me a seat? I could have just died!” I scream and fling my phone out the window. “What is my life?” I shout at the rain pouring in, at the sky drained of color. There is no answer.
The rain pelts the roof of the car, creating a sort of music. No rhythm, but not at all discordant. It is strangely beautiful and I wonder why I have never heard it before. I focus on the sound when a flash of color flutters to my right. A bird? I turn to the sight, but see nothing. I move over to the passenger side and look out the window. Light pierces through the grey sky.
Has the rain stopped? I look out the front windshield, but rain still pours down relentlessly. I turn to the window on my right once more. Cobalt blue patchworks the sky, creating a completely different scene.
There it is again. An emerald jewel with crescent wings. It is a bird, its feathers catching the light where the sun’s rays meet the ground.
I push open the passenger door. The strange scene beckons me. I hear another horn approaching, blaring deeply.
I hit the ground, tumbling. My Armani jeans have grass stains. My hair is a wreck. And I’ve never felt more alive.
Someone stands over me. “Welcome,” he says, helping me to my feet. His smile is so warm I feel I’ve been kissed by the sun. “I have been waiting for you.”
A screeching, grating noise of metal against metal and shattering glass spins my attention to the freeway. I see my mini Cooper, falling. It lands, roof first, with a dull thud that shakes the ground.
I stare at it, detached. Distant voices echo as faces appear on the edge of the freeway. “Was someone in there?” “I think I saw a woman.” “Call 9-1-1!”
I want to tell them that no one was in the car, that I’m okay. But instead I turn, perhaps afraid that the scene will disappear if I ignore it too long. But there he stands. Behind him, light spills upon the landscape like a Thomas Kinkade painting.
He holds out his hand. I take it, and a thrill rushes through every pore. Still I hesitate, looking back at the drab scene of the cars speeding into the deepening grey. “They’re all rushing so fast. Going nowhere.” Tears sting my eyes.
“Everyone is going somewhere,” he answers. “But few stop to ask where.”
“I didn’t ask.”
“You called me, because I was calling you.” I turn to him once more. He smiles, and the background beyond where he stands unfolds like a thousand happy endings in one panorama.
“Where are we going?”
I step towards him. And this time I don’t look back.