Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Editor (05/27/10)
TITLE: It Could Happen
By Sarah Elisabeth
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A certain comfort fills me as the clicking sound and flashing light of my blinker eases me into the right hand lane. Cruise set for the thirty mile drive to my hometown, I let my mind read through the pages of the manuscript I began editing today.
Change this paragraph to show the action. Add dialogue. My red pen was hard at work until I reached the climax of the short story. That’s when I called the writer.
“Hi Jill, it’s Terri. Listen, I was just curious if this is based a true story.”
“Uh, well, no, but it could happen. I mean, I think it’s pretty realistic.”
I hadn’t been able to finish it. Not that I ran out of time. When my coworkers gathered their things and laughed on their way out the front door of the publishing house, I realized I had been staring at the hummingbirds outside my two-by-two window. I had no idea how much time had passed since I read the last sentence. I knew I couldn’t finish editing. Not today.
That final paragraph flashes through my mind like the stripes separating my car from collision with the eighteen-wheeler rocking past me.
“Abigail’s hands shook as she ran them along the side of her head, feeling the warmth of her own blood. She stared in shock at the flame engulfed car at the bottom of the ravine.
She screamed. “What have I done!”
The clicking blinker fills my ears as I take the exit before my usual one. With speed at five miles per hour under the limit, I make the turns as if I travel this way often. Truth told, I had forgotten. I had forgotten the pain, the fear, the confusion. Well, I hadn’t forgotten. I just chose not to remember. Until today.
Right signal activated, I turn into the Rose Hill Cemetery, an odd quiver upsetting my stomach. I make the half circle and ease my sedan to the curb.
“It could happen.”
Jill’s words accompany me as I walk through the lush grass, careful to step between the headstones. I kneel beside the grave. Dirt and fifteen years of mature grass covers the hole that had once haunted me for so many nights.
Pieces of my client’s story tumble through my own memories.
“Abigail couldn’t believe she was stuck behind another slow car. Why couldn’t people just drive the speed limit on these two lane highways?
The yellow sign glared at her. “Sharp Curves Ahead. No Passing.”
“Whatever,” Abigail said, glad her mother wasn’t in the car to lecture her. “I’ve passed on this road before. Right up here, in fact. And it looks clear…”
The Honda roared as Abigail pressed the pedal to the floor board. She checked the slow car as she glided by. A white haired head turned and wide eyes stared back at her. Face forward again, Abigail felt the steering wheel slip. Her car was drifting in the steepness of the turn. A clang of metal resounded and the Honda spun round three times before sliding to a stop against an oak tree. Abigail felt her body bounce upright, her head shattering glass.
Stunned, Abigail struggled out of her car, keenly aware she had neglected her seatbelt. Again.
A van pulled over a dozen yards in front of her and the driver rushed to the broken guardrail. Abigail stumbled to it, gasping for air.
“Are you alright?”
Abigail waved off the supporting hand and peered over the edge…”
My breathing is labored. I shake my head as I trace the letters on the headstone: Danielle Knight. 1973-1995.
She was fast. She was young. She was my best friend.
Crossed double yellow lines…excessive speed…lost control on curve…four dead… That’s how our hometown paper reported it. I knew it was true, but I had found little comfort in the facts.
Pain fills my chest as I recall Jill’s story. Why write something like that? It’s sad. It’s so sad.
“But it could happen.”
It could, Jill. It did.
And it could again. Lifting my eyes to the heavens, peace washes over me.
“Yes, Lord. It could again. But maybe because of Jill’s story, it will stop some. Even one. God, help us get it to the ones who will listen. Amen.”
Back in my car, I navigate through traffic, cars passing me at high speeds.
Today, I’m not one of the fast drivers.
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