Monday, December 19, 2005

Cat-like Reflexes

I was driving in the dark just outside of Brainerd, on a divided four-lane stretch of 371. Eric was with me, in the passenger seat. We were in the far right lane when a pickup truck crossed over the other side of the road about a quarter of a mile ahead of us and paused in the space between the two sides of the highway. It began to pull out and I assumed that it was making a left turn into the near lane, so I maintained my speed: 70 miles per hour. Moments later, I realized that actually...well, you know how sometimes deer wander stupidly across the road in front of cars? I think a deer might have been driving that truck. I hit the brakes, hard, squealingly hard when I realized that the truck was now in my lane, not turning left but crossing the highway. I gasped and gripped the steering wheel as my car, slowing but destined not to stop in time, glided toward the back end of the blue truck. For the second time in my life, I was certain that I was about to be badly hurt, maybe killed. (The first time was the summer after high school graduation: I thought I was about to miss my turn, and tried to take it at 60 miles per hour. I went into the ditch instead, which I was luckily able to just drive out of. It wasn't actually my turn.) But just as I was bracing myself for the crash, I saw that the truck was mostly out of the left lane. I jerked the steering wheel to the left, swerving half onto the shoulder and then squarely into the left lane. Four Twin Cities apartment guides and a copy of Conservation Volunteer magazine flew across the dashboard, off the dashboard, against my right thigh.

We didn't hit the truck.

But it was close. I kept driving, shaking, sucking air in and huffing it out. I heard Eric say, "Good driving," and I moved back into the right lane, where I drove only 50 miles per hour, allowing the two cars that had been behind me to pass. The magazines stayed on my lap until Eric moved them a few minutes later.

Earlier in the drive, a semi truck had nearly changed lanes on top of us. Later, on a two-lane stretch of the highway, two other semis were in our lane, going the wrong direction. So I'm happy to be home, and be alive.


Blogger Jessie said...

No shit--welcome home!

12/19/2005 11:09 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home