Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Shrewdness (03/07/05)
TITLE: Drunken Alley
By Catherine Pollock
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Leigh was giddy with excitement. Seventeen years old and she finally had her drivers' license - as of today. Her father had taken this day off of work (during her Spring Break) just to be with her when she got it, and his frown now was starting a nervous churn in her stomach.
"It's called Drunken Alley for a reason, hun." The frown deepened as Leigh signaled for and made her way into the left turn lane for the intersection ahead.
"That's only late at night and on the weekends." Leigh kept herself from rolling her eyes this time, her attention never really leaving the road. She was not going to make the same mistakes her friends did the first few times they were legal behind the wheel - it was her overall responsible nature that had convinced her parents to let her get her license in the first place. "Relax. It'll be fine - watch."
The light was red when Leigh first pulled into the left turn lane, but now there were enough cars in front of and behind her to earn a green arrow. Leigh cautiously tapped the gas pedal and started forward when the time came. Though she knew her father was worried about going through this intersection because of its reputation for accidents involving drunk drivers, no one was so stupid as to get drunk and cause an accident during daylight hours. Intelligent businessmen and women went through here constantly during the day and the worst accident she had heard of was a fender bender a couple of weeks before.
"Leigh..." her father cautioned. "Slow down..."
Leigh's foot carefully and quietly went on the brake as she saw what was being pointed out - before her father ever spoke up. The vehicle two cars in front of them had stalled out, and though the occupants were pushing it through the turn towards the nearest parking lot, no one behind them was going anywhere at anything but a snail's pace. The street they were turning on was no more than one lane for each side of the road with a left turn lane of its own in the middle.
Leigh watched in frustration as the arrow turned to yellow, and her impatient glance went to the rearview mirror. Behind her, the left turn lane was completely full. Car horns started honking as she crept a little bit more forward, but the noise from it was not what caught her attention eventually.
What Leigh saw out of the corner of her eye as she was looking back to the road in front of her stiffened her spine and chilled her blood - because it was a clearly drunken driver heading straight towards her at full speed. The stalled out car was still taking up all the space that was needed to turn so that even if the car in front of her had wanted to, it could not have gotten around. Leigh was pinned in with no way out.
"They're almost through, kiddo," her father was saying. "Gun it - now..."
The first car was finally out of the way, and the car in front of Leigh jumped forward into the turn. Leigh tried to do as her father had advised, but it was already too late for that. Her car was starting to go into the turn when another force slammed into it and sent it flying into the traffic that was already headed straight through the intersection.
And all Leigh could think on the second impact was that she should have listened to her father. Then she couldn't think anymore because of the lightning flash of pain and sudden darkness that stole over her and carried her away.
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