To begin with, she was a crimson dot in the distance. A lone spot of red that wove in and out of my vision.
I was more focused on the beauty around me. The fringe of yellow beaches studded with shards of rock. The ribbon of tarmac carved into soaring cliffs and the dancing seas below. Seldom had I seen the ocean so magnificent; layered with turquoise, emerald and sapphire, and sprayed with glistening diamonds.
There were other cars on the road that morning, but they were driving sensibly. Slowing on corners, hugging the cliff face, allowing others to pass. Not the crimson dot. Her movements were erratic, unpredictable as she lurched from side to side.
My first thoughts were for myself. What if she drove into me? What if she side-swiped me and we both went over the edge, tumbling and twisting to be crushed on the rocks below?
As she drew nearer, I saw she was driving a metallic-red Honda, accelerating, roaring round the bends. She passed me in a scarlet blur, punctuated with two pale faces. Two faces pressed against the side window. Big-eyed, frightened faces.
Instinctively I dropped my speed. Two small children? Visions of newspaper headlines flashed through my mind. “Drunk driver and children plunge to their deaths.” Someone had to do something. Surely someone had reported her by now? I grabbed my cell phone but remembered the battery was dead.
I slowed a little more. I’ve never been one to interfere in other people’s business but I couldn’t get the children’s faces out of my mind. Righteous indignation bubbled up inside of me. I didn’t have to think as I pulled into a viewing spot. As I reversed my direction and set off in pursuit of the crimson dot.
It was a frightening journey, hurtling down the road, twisting and turning, watching the red spot grow bigger and bigger. I prayed God would keep me safe; that He would put His angels around us and protect everyone on the road.
It took ten minutes but I caught up to her as she fishtailed round a hairpin bend. The road was still treacherous and still she wove from side to side. For a moment I was unsure what to do next. I’d never been the confrontational sort. I was a peacemaker, a settler of troubled waters.
Ahead of me, two little faces looked out the back window, fear etched in every blurry movement. It was those faces that prompted me to put my hand on the horn. To give a few toots. I didn’t want to scare her but I needed to get her attention. The woman looked in her mirror and kept going. I followed.
Around the next corner, I held my hand on the horn; let it blare on and on as I motioned to a grassy viewing point. She seemed to stop as an afterthought. Slamming on brakes, tearing up turf as she spun onto the shoulder of the road. Shaking, I pulled up behind her. What in the world was I to do next?
She climbed out of her car, a tall woman, angular, with flat, peroxide curls, bony elbows and long fingers. Behind her, two small boys cowered in the back seat. “I‘m worried about your driving.” I said as I walked over to the Honda. Her eyes were disturbed, unfocused, heavy with drugs. “You’re endangering your life and your children’s lives.” She stared into the distance, slight tremors shaking her body. “You’re in no condition to drive. Let me help you.”
She looked straight through me. “I have to go.”
With a boldness I’d never known I caught hold of her arm. “I’m taking your boys.” I told her. “I’ll follow you, but they’re coming with me.” With my other hand I opened her back door. They stared at me wide-eyed, bewildered as I lifted them out; as I buckled them into my back seat. The woman watched, impassive, disinterested before firing the Honda’s engine to life.
We were near the base of the cliffs when she lost control. When the car spun wildly, its back ramming into a rocky outcrop. “Stay here.” I commanded the little ones.
She appeared unhurt, their mother. Just dazed, dizzy. Other motorists pulled over. Concerned, anxious, wanting to help. I told them about the children and together we stared at the Honda. The way the rocks had sliced, crumpled and crushed the back seat. They wouldn’t have stood a chance.
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