I Had A Fright Yesterday

But first, a little background that you should know (this will be a long one. You might want to grab a coffee… or whatever… go ahead, make it something stronger, I don’t mind)

My eldest daughter Vicki (22) lives and works in Brisbane, and this week she made a flying visit (nearly 800ks each way) to wish my second daughter (Sarah) an early happy birthday. She’ll be 18 tomorrow (and I wish you the best day EVER, my baby), but Vicki hadn’t been able to arrange for time off on the actual day, so drove up to spend her two days off with Sarah a couple of days early. Our kids are all very close and miss each other dreadfully when they’re apart. Vicki is very protective of her siblings (she has a beautiful tat of a galaxy containing the initials A, S and L {Alex, Sarah and Loren} on the inside of her forearm), and comes up often… birthdays, christmasses, long weekends… she doesn’t need much of an excuse to visit.

Sometimes I think of the battles these people had as kids, and I shake my head. Some of the things I saw and heard were vicious and downright mean at times. Some of the trouble-making schemes I uncovered over the years were just evil… almost like a ‘drowning kittens’ type of evil. There were times I had to pull them apart with fists and feet flying everywhere. There were a FEW times that I thought they’d REALLY done each other physical damage. I certainly didn’t envision that their love for each other would be so strong now.

When my granddaughter Ella was born, Sarah wanted her sister with her most of all. She was on her own, scared and Vicki has always been large and loud and confident, and oh so protective. I think that more than anything else during the birth, Sarah so much wanted that warm feeling of safety and comfort that her big sister’s presence gives her.

Vicki arranged to take four weeks holidays when Sarah was due so that she could be here for the birth. She wanted to arrive two weeks before the birth so that she could pamper Sarah in her last couple of weeks. And she did too. She did everything she could for Sarah… she massaged all her aches, she shared all of her doctors’ visits, bought her little presents and treats… and let’s not mention how much the pile of baby stuff grew in that couple of weeks.

Vicki was so proud that she had been the first person that Sarah had turned to, and was forever hugging or kissing Sarah’s belly, or speaking to Ella, making jokes or singing to her. She couldn’t wait to hold her in her arms. An expectant father couldn’t have been more attentive or excited about the birth of this little angel. I’m so glad that Sarah had her close.

But, I think little Ella enjoyed the attention. She’d gotten comfortable, and it was more than a week after her due date that she finally arrived, so Vicki had very little time with her before she had to go back home to work. She missed everyone so much that she was determined to come up at Christmas a couple of months later. So much so that she handed in her resignation when the company refused to give her more time off. As a consequence she later suffered a period of unemployment before being offered her old job back… but that’s inconsequential.

Anyway, she last came up a few weeks ago for our youngest Loren’s 12th birthday and wanted desperately to be here this week for Sarah’s 18th. But she rang me last week, very upset that she couldn’t find anyone to cover her shifts. I sympathised and made a couple of suggestions and we ended our call. On Monday I went to visit Sarah and Ella and she told me that Vicki was on the way, due in about an hour. She was only staying for one night though, she was driving back home on Tuesday night. I was a bit worried about the trip (as I always am… a little), but was also pleasantly surprised. She’s always got a mile of visits to make and time’s always too short, so we organised for her to come out to our place after dinner that night to see my partner Brad, as he’d been working all day.

I worry about the corner where our road turns off the highway. We live about 20 k out of Rockhampton, a few clicks up from the Gracemere turn-off. There’s a lot of trucks use the road… and a lot of idiots too, quite honestly. The turn is just before a sweeping corner that goes up a rise and over a small hill. There’s enough room to see vehicles coming (if they’re traveling at the speed limit) far enough to get across the highway and into our road, but you can’t see over the hill or around the bend. I wouldn’t like to think of some idiot in a V8 flying up the road at 150 while I was turning in. Apart from that, there’s no turning lane and an 80k speed limit, and I always worry about the traffic coming behind. What if they’re speeding to get home, or not paying attention and don’t notice the indicator and brake lights? Whenever I know that anyone is coming out, I usually advise them to keep going down to the next corner… it’s big, with a turning lane, and there’s a little dirt road that doubles back along the side of the highway to our road.

Now, I know that Vicki’s a good driver, but she’s my baby… I still worry anyway. As usual I worried that it was dark, but I was fine once she got here. She brought her good friend Ange out to visit us and we spent a few hours catching up. They couldn’t stay because Ange’s parents were expecting her back (at some time during the night), but Vicki told me she’d come back out on Tuesday before she left. Could I give her a ring at 8.30 in the morning to make sure she gets up? Sure. See you then. Thanks Mum. Love you. XX

Ok, so now we’re coming to Tuesday (yesterday). How’s that drink going? You might need another before I’m finished… I hope you’re comfortable ;o)

Yesterday morning I saw Brad off to work at 6.30 and climbed back into bed with the laptop. Soon I got a text on my phone. It was my ex. “Would you like Loren for the night?…” “Yep, Got no car but Vicki’s coming out…” I replied. I looked at the clock and it was about 7.30. I’ll tell her when I ring her to wake her up. It was cool outside and the bed was warm and I was hunched over the computer. Before long I had to stretch my back… I lay back… and dozed off. I woke up around 9 and forgot at first that I was supposed to ring Vicki. By the time my head un-fuzzied it was 9.30. Damn.

I rang her but the call didn’t go through because I’d run out of credit. Damn! I transferred five dollars of credit to my phone from the computer (not much left there either. Damn!!) and rang her to wake her up. She told me that she had a few more things to do and might not be out until lunch time. That was cool. I asked if she could pick Loren up and bring her out, and she said that was all good. I told her to drive carefully, left her to her morning shower and hung up. I looked at my phone… only a couple of dollars credit left. I remember thinking that I should text Brad to buy credit while he was in town, but I didn’t.

Later on I got a craving for Chinese take away, so I sent Vicki a text to see if I could con her into bringing some out for lunch. She rang me to say that they were still doing things and running late. I told her not to rush. About an hour later I got another call from her phone. “Hey Mum, it’s Sarah. Ella and I are coming out with Vicki and Loren. But there’s a problem with lunch, chinese is out, what would you like instead…” Arrangements were made and the call was ended.

I figured that it’d take them about an hour to get here… max. Half an hour to stop and grab lunch, then half an hour to drive (usually not even that much). So an hour and a half later I found myself staring out the window at the little stretch of highway leading down the opposite rise towards us. You can see all the cars coming down the highway towards us, then right before our turn it disappears behind some trees and we lose sight of it as it comes over our hill. I’ve taken to scanning the highway when I know visitors are coming, especially if I think they’re taking too long.

I was just about to send Vicki another text when I saw a little silvery-blue car coming down the hill. It was too far away to see what type of car it was, but it was small and the colour was a close enough match to Vicki’s car that I assumed it was her. “I’ll just put the kettle on,” I thought to myself, turning from the window. I hadn’t even made the door when I heard a huge, vibrating screech (it sounded like that shuddering screech of large truck tyres), followed closely by a loud crunching bang and the sound of shattering glass.

My heart leapt. I was back at the window in three bounds, leaning out as far as I could to see if I could see anything. No good! The trees were in the way. All I could see was the traffic coming down the hill braking very quickly. I don’t remember picking it up, but my phone was in my hand. I called Vicki and her phone went to message bank. Damn!!! Fuck! I called her again and the same thing happened. Fuck!! FUCK!!! Please no… please, that wasn’t Vicki’s car. No, it wasn’t! She just couldn’t answer the call because she was driving, that’s it! That’s all!! I’d call Sarah. “The phone you are calling is switched off…” Damn it! Can I get a break!? I’d try Loren’s phone. I lifted the phone to my ear… but no ring tone. “You have insufficient credit…” Oh my god, please no… please…

I ran. I ran almost half a k, up the hill of our driveway and down our dirt road towards the highway. I haven’t run for years, apart from the short bursts when I exercise the dogs (and you couldn’t really call that running, more like leaping around). I’m an asthmatic, and usually ANY physical exercise or excitement makes my lungs feel like they’re alternately exploding and being crushed. But I ran nonetheless, and without thinking. Adrenaline made my leg muscles feel about three times as big and I ran faster than I ever thought I could. And the strangest thing… my lungs worked better than they have in years. The air tasted clear and I could feel it working in and out of my body as it should… it was refreshing me, the way a long glass of cool water on a hot day does. It surprised me a little that I was running without collapsing in a gasping heap as I usually would, but the thought of stopping never occurred to me.

What DID occur to me was that half of my family were in that one little car. Not only three of my daughters, but my granddaughter too. That little ray of sunshine who was sent to brighten our hearts… the same one who has me firmly (and quite gladly) wrapped around her gorgeous little finger. I strained my ears as I ran… I listened for her cries over the thumping crunching of my boots on the gravel. I figured I would hear her crying first, that crash would have scared her… and they WOULD only be cries of fear, not pain… at least I wished so. I listened for my daughters’ voices… please, if it’s them I want to hear them. Their cries, their screams… anything… better that than no noise at all…

Which is all I heard. Nothing but my own footfalls and amazingly deep, even breathing.

In my mind I willed them to be somewhere else on the highway… driving along oblivious, singing, laughing with each other. But the fear that was gnawing on my insides and firing my body (growing by the second) showed me mental pictures of a truck on top of her car… of a mess of twisted silver-blue metal upside-down in the ditch… of broken bones… wisps of beautiful hair matted with blood… glass cuts… there could be so many other injuries… and what will I do if it’s worse??… no, not worse. It can’t be. I won’t allow it!.. But what would I do?…

I also remember cursing myself halfway up the road that I hadn’t brought the first aid kit… ours is a beauty, I would have had everything I might have needed. I had my phone though. I could call for help. And if needs be I would have stripped every shred of clothing from my body to use as bandages… right there on the highway. I would use what I had to…

Please… please don’t let me have to… please…

I couldn’t see anything until I’d almost reached the corner. There was a ute in the middle of the highway, traffic stopped both ways. There was a tray truck with a car on the back, pulled off the side of the road on the other side. It wasn’t damaged though, probably someone who stopped to help. And on this side, several other cars pulled off the road, one with several people milling around it… something smallish and silverish, but old… not Vicki’s car. I scanned around again, but couldn’t see it anywhere. It wasn’t her. They weren’t there. Oh, thank you… thank you.

I slowed down and came to a walk, as I looked up the highway. There were a number of people on the scene already and I doubted that I could have been any more help. I couldn’t see any actual damage on any of the cars as I was on the opposite side of the accident, but it was clear that the accident wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it had sounded. The ute was empty so that driver was ok, and the people around the car had everything under control there.

I remember breathing very deeply, but not in a gasping asthma-ish kind of way. Suddenly I was the happiest woman on earth (with all due respect to the people involved in the accident) and the air tasted as sweet as honey. I gulped it in, relishing in the smoothness of it… relishing in life… literally. I was buzzing with adrenaline, but the relief made me want to dance.

I was trying to decide whether to go back home or go down to offer any help I could. I was leaning towards ‘home’ when I heard the crunch of tyres on gravel. “Mum?…” I turned around as Vicki pulled into our road. I hadn’t seen her coming down the highway. She had a look of concern on her face (she’d worked out that I might have assumed it was them)… and she’s never looked more beautiful to me. They all seemed to have some new glow to them as I feasted my eyes on their faces. “Are you ok?” she asked. I couldn’t say anything at all at that very moment, so I smiled and nodded as I gulped air that began to taste very much like gratitude to me. I jumped in the car and Vicki drove us back home. On the way I kissed Loren’s hair and stroked the tiny cheek of the sleeping cherub in the car seat next to me.

Thank you. Thank you.

We got out of the car and I looked at Vicki. That concern was still there. “Are you ok?” she asked again. I nodded and I hugged her to me. Hard but gentle… I was still shaking… she knew. I hugged them all, one by one… good long, grateful hugs. I felt every inch of their arms around me… I breathed them in. I felt the tears well… but… I can’t cry in front of my kids! They’ll think I’ve gone soft…

But I certainly got a fright.

Now, I’m happy to say that Vicki has arrived home in Brisbane safely. She left last night and I got a text this morning to say that she was ok. But then I heard about a terrible thing that happened fairly close to here last night.

An 8 month old baby was shot dead and a man was shot in the stomach and wounded… he’s in intensive care. Not long after this happened a young woman drove her car into a tree and killed herself. The police seem to think that both these incidents were linked to a domestic situation that day. Whatever happened, it doesn’t matter… it still ends up being a tragic loss of life. And someone has lost half their family… I felt almost sick when I heard the news. It hit just a little too close to home. There’s a lesson to be learnt from both of these things…

The moral of this story?… Hug your kids! Do it now, just because you can. Hold them and breathe them in. And thank your lucky stars…

Peace to all. :o*

I Had A Fright Yesterday

PhoenixArt

Joined January 2010

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Artist's Description

One of my journal entries, added as a piece of writing after the suggestion of a friend.
I would rate this as PG, but only because there are some bad words.

Featured in
Imaginative Skulls group – 6 Aug 2010

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