She was being deliberately trapped between two cars on a lonely mountain road.
Normally Lynn loved the drive home from her son’s house, especially the five mile stretch through the mountains. Winding and intimate, tonight it was downright magical. Dancing tree shadows were backlit by blasts of blue moonlight. She drove blissfully, accompanied by no less than a million-cricket escort. Every cell in her sixty-something body was alive with joy. She felt young, ageless even. Perhaps her little Mercedes would simply lift off the road, skimming treetops on its way to the valley below.
Tuesdays with Grams, that’s what her daughter-in-law called her visits since the birth of number three. Lynn came every week, now, to fold laundry, read stories to numbers one and two, hug, kiss and mitigate weariness. Often, once quiet came with the closing of little eyes, Lynn’s son joined the two moms for a lovely exchange of ideas, reflections and validations. Never mind that she usually left later than planned. It was worth it, this anchoring of the family on love’s bedrock.
She saw the pickup in the distance at the mouth of a feeder road. At first she thought it was poised to move onto the road in front of her but it stayed motionless, its headlights throwing a sideways beam across her path. As she passed she noticed it was pulled rather awkwardly off to the side. A hint of wariness nudged her stomach when its headlights straightened, filling her rearview mirror.
Quickly reassuring herself that nothing was amiss, Lynn’s heart took up its earlier enchantment. She should have put the top down! The warm night air swooshed her hair through an open window. When anyone suggested owning a hardtop convertible might be extravagant, she told them it was her therapy. Even in winter she loved driving hatless in the wind to clear her mind.
God, she loved life!
Life hadn’t always loved Lynn, however. Much of her childhood was shrouded in stubborn memory loss. Panic attacks and nightmares filled her youth, leaving her vulnerable and tentative. She had married too early, a classic mistake. Divorcing the abuse, she doggedly pursued happiness until by the time she was forty she had learned she was her own best friend. She listened to her body, trusted her instincts, was keenly aware of her surroundings. Her love affair with life was intense. Sometime her energy made her feel bigger than her body. Powerful. Lynn felt powerful!
The headlights from the pickup were getting closer. Not wanting the distraction, she accelerated, familiar with the curving road ahead, sure of herself, cricket choir going full blast. A couple of turns and the road was hers alone.
Darn! The taillights of a car ahead caused her to brake. As she approached, the vehicle began to slow. Good, Lynn mused, they’ll turn into a driveway soon. Instead, the car continued to diminish speed while the headlights from behind drew closer. No chance on passing. The road zigzagged sharply for the next mile or so with no shoulder offering reprieve. It was darker here, too, the narrowed lane shut in by thickening forest, the moon barely highlighting the thin sky-river above.
Frustrated, Lynn reminded herself to be patient, knowing that it would only be a couple of minutes before the road straightened and widened. Why was the car going so slow? Perhaps a deer had met its fate. Were they looking for a driveway? The headlights behind were now blinding. A familiar warning went off inside her heart. DANGER!
Every cell in her sixty-something body was alive with vigilance.
Passage through life had taught her not to overreact, not to treat every unpleasant circumstance as tragedy. Not to unnecessarily replicate past threats into milder situations. She no longer thought of herself as a victim and more often saw the glass half full rather than half empty. Along the way, she had also learned to trust her instincts. Implicitly.
The brake lights of the car in front of Lynn suddenly flashed while the pickup’s headlights closed in. In an instant, Lynn realized she was deliberately being trapped between the two vehicles! Right when she couldn’t pass because she couldn’t see the road ahead.
When the car in front stopped completely, Lynn rammed the gas pedal to the floor. Her little car responded in a heartbeat as she deftly swerved around the vehicle and shot through the immediate curve ahead. Continuing to accelerate, she burst into bright moonlight within moments. Perhaps her little Mercedes simply lifted off the road, skimming treetops on its way to the valley below.
She never second guessed her actions of that night and wasn’t surprised when six months later a local newspaper ran a story about the capture of a man who had been victimizing women on deserted rural roads. Lynn was grateful she hadn’t become one of them. She called the police to let them know that at least once he’d had an accomplice.
Acting swiftly and with confidence, she had avoided adversity. And after all, as she remembers it, it was a magical night!