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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Police (10/12/06)

TITLE: The Driver
By Marita Vandertogt



My headlights flood the black ribbon road ahead. Trees and houses blur as the car picks up speed.

In the rearview mirror, a red strobe light of a police car flashes even-patterns in a distance. I know I have to stop, but I can’t. Instead, I push the gas pedal even harder. The police car behind me picks up the pace, and there we are, two vehicles in the black night, racing towards who knows what.

The noise of a siren now adds to the lights, the speed, my nerves. The sweat on my hands makes the steering wheel hard to hold, to maneuver the curves, the hills, the sharp turns.

Slow down, I tell myself. Just slow down, and stop for goodness sake. What am I running from. But for some reason, my body isn’t listening to my brain. I keep the pursuit going, and the police car behind me doesn’t give an inch either.

Just over the next hill is a small town. It’s late. There shouldn’t be anyone around, not on the road anyway. Now my forehead aches with the pressure. I can’t keep this up much longer.

The downtown is straight ahead. Small lights glow in shop windows and signs flash coloured lights, blurred lights. The stoplight is moving toward me, growing bigger and bigger, brighter in my eyes. It’s red, and I know I can’t stop. The siren is still blaring behind me. The police car is catching up. If I can just make it through the red light, I’ll have the advantage. The gas pedal is now completely to the floor.

I barely see the truck, a big yellow truck, with three people crammed in the front seat. What I do see, are the colour of their eyes as my car starts to veer into theirs. I don’t even try to put on the brake. I just hold on while the inevitable crash echoes through my head, into my body, jerking me upright and safely into my bed.

“Whaaaa happened?” I say to the dark.

“You had that dream again,” my husband answers, his voice groggy from sleep.

“Why didn’t you wake me up before I got to that part?” my question seems to be directed more toward myself than him.

“Simple,” he whispers, enunciating each word carefully. “I couldn’t catch up with you in time.”

“Cute,” I say, and lay back down.

The feeling of the speeding car, the inability to slow down, to even care that the red light meant danger for someone else as well as myself, scared me.

The dream happens often. More often lately. To the point where seeing a police car on the street in my waking moments, makes me anxious.

The alarm goes off at 7:00 a.m. every morning, and this morning I feel the tired. It’s worse than usual.

“Okay honey, up and at ‘em.” Brad is already dressed and almost out the door. “I’m working late tonight. You and the kids can start dinner without me.”

The days almost always start like this. Each day moving faster and faster, slipping from my hands like sunlight to an evening sky.

I throw on track pants and head downstairs. Brad’s half finished cup of coffee sits on the counter, and I sip at it, too lazy to pour my own.

“Mommy,” Jason says, holding an empty glass. “Milk please.”

I listen to the liquid hitting against itself in the glass, and look down at the brown of his sleepy eyes.

“Hurry and get dressed,” I say. “We have to go in a few minutes.”

He stirs the milk in slow circles with his spoon. I grab the spoon and throw it into the sink. The clanging makes him jump, then start to cry.

“I don’t have time for this,” I say to him. I am two different people.

Bits of the dream float through my head as the coffee kicks in. In my mind’s eye, I catch a glimpse of the three passengers in the front seat of the truck. My husband is the driver. The other two are children, my children. I see the look of terror in their eyes as I careen toward them. The policeman’s face in the chasing car becomes clearer too. It’s my own.

Life is moving too fast. Asking too much.

The keys to the car lie on the kitchen table. I walk past them to the bathroom, and get ready to start my day.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Haug10/20/06
I was glad it was a dream. I wondered at the end if she was just going to get dressed and run off in her car, or if possibly she was going to take some time to prepare herself for her day by spending time with God. A good reminder to us to slow down, enjoy life, and take time for God and our families.
Lynda Schultz 10/22/06
This is very thought-provoking. Well done.
Joe Moreland10/23/06
Very good writing here. You give us the dream, the meaning and even the fact that the meaning of the dream begins to dawn on her, but you leave us hanging as to whether she will change anything or not.

A good reminder that speeding through life always ends in a crash.
Karen Schravemade10/23/06
Awesome... I absolutely loved this. It is superbly written and drew me in from the first words. I actually got goosebumps when you revealed the true meaning of the dream at the end, and I pictured those kids sitting in the front seat of the truck. A very timely and relevant message - smoothly executed - well done!