This is a story which tells you about an accident and things which changed due to the accident. Lets begin.
“I hate winter. I hate snow. I hate traveling for work. I hate driving in the snow in the winter, traveling for work! And you know what I hate even more? I hate men. And Valentine’s Day. I hate traveling in snow, for work, over Valentine’s Day, for a man.”
“Why don’t you tell me what’s really bothering you, Natasa?” Tessa asked across the static-laced line.
“The man, the one I’ve been seeing that I wouldn’t tell you much about, is married. And he’s my new boss. And he told me he can’t see me anymore. I confronted him about the wife, and he swore they’re separated, but then he said it wasn’t right to date an employee, but that he was really glad he could offer me this ‘get-away’.
Get-away! Right, because it is such a privilege to drive in upstate New York in February!” I replied, disgusted with myself as much as with Irwin. I should never have fallen for those big brown eyes when he came on-board at my firm a month ago.
“You knew something wasn’t right, or you would have told me about him. Natasa, you only have yourself to blame here,” Tessa returned, in that helpful way best friends have.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” probably because she was right, “What are you and Bill doing this weekend?”
“We don’t…” then nothing but static.
“Tessa?” I picked up my phone to see if it was maybe just the car’s system that had failed, but my phone showed “No Service.” Just as well. I didn’t want to hear what my friend and her very romantic boyfriend had planned anyway. It had been a horrible week and I was really just looking forward to getting to my hotel and out of the weather.
Tomorrow was Valentine’s Day and I would be stuck in meetings all day, followed by dinner alone at some hotel in the middle of nowhere, probably surrounded by couples making eyes at each other and playing footsie under the tables. I wasn’t sure if I could stand anymore thoughts about how happy everyone else was.
The snow had started falling as soon as I left the city. I should have taken a train, but then I would have had even more time to just think, and I was really sick of thinking.
Last autumn I broke up with my boyfriend of nearly two years. It had suddenly struck me that he was boring and unromantic, and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with him.
I thought I would be relieved, even happy, to be single again, but I wasn’t. Every man I met was either dreadfully dull or hopelessly self-centered. Then Irwin came along and I thought I had it all. He was romantic, interesting, and while a little self-involved, he at least thought about me enough to send me flowers and plan intimate weekends. Until I found out he was still married.
I wonder if he would have broken things off if I hadn’t discovered his wife. I guess I’ll never know.
The snow was mixed with freezing rain now, and I was having difficulty keeping the windshield clear. A big truck went past the opposite way and my windshield became a solid mass of mud, ice and muck. I hit the washer button over and over, flipping the wipers to high speed, but I could barely make out the road, and missed the curve completely.
I felt the rough shoulder under the wheels, then the jolt as I hit high grass under the snow. The car began to skid sideways. There was a colossal jolt and the car began to flip. I lost all sense of direction as I hung momentarily by my seatbelt, then was slammed back upright. I think I hit my head on the steering wheel because the next thing I remembered was sitting still, the car gently hissing in the snow bank while a warm sticky feeling crawled down my cheek.
I tried the ignition, but it wouldn’t turn over. I grabbed my phone, but still no service. Taking inventory, I could move all of my limbs and turn my neck, so I concluded I would have to get out and head back to the road for help.
It took a few body slams, but I got the door open and pulled myself out into two feet of heavily churned snow. I had on pumps and a skirt, work clothes, and not the best for hiking, but I really had no choice. I couldn’t see the road from where I had landed which meant they couldn’t see me. If I wanted to be found, I was going to have to hike.
I stumbled along the track of my wreck for perhaps a hundred feet, but there was no road, and eventually the signs of my accident faded into smooth snow amidst the winter-bare forest. I turned in a slow circle and realized even my own footprints in the snow seemed to be fading behind me.
Panic gripped my chest and I stifled a scream. I was never one to overreact, but suddenly I had such a feeling of desperation, I wanted only to sit down and cry. Somehow I had lost my way, lost the road, and now the wind and snow were conspiring to separate me from my wrecked vehicle.
As I turned that slow circle again I thought I saw a light flicker through the trees. I waited. There it was again! I headed for the only sign of civilization I had seen since I left my car.
As I trudged through the snow and ice, my shoes became swamped and eventually were sucked from my feet. I continued on with staid determination. A light meant people and people meant rescue. My feet ached with cold and injury from objects on the forest floor, but I continued forward toward that light which now appeared to be windows of a cabin. Those windows twinkled merrily, and smoke puffed warmly from the chimney.
By the time I reached the door, I hardly had energy to knock, and sagged against the door exhausted. No one answered my first knock, so I tried a second time, but my sleeve caught on the lever handle and the door opened inward, dumping me unceremoniously onto the foyer floor. There I lay trying to regain my breath as the wind swept into the room, guttering the flames in the fireplace.
I called out in a week, a raspy voice as I shuffled to get far enough into the room to close the door. Again no answer. Logic would dictate that someone must be here if there was a fire in the fireplace, but I didn’t see anyone and the room appeared to encompass the entirety of the small cabin. A kitchenette and dining table sat to the right of the doorway, while a bed, sofa and chairs occupied the remainder. A small bathroom hung off the back, but the door was open and the room dark.
It was then that I smelled the food. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until the smell of a roast and all its trimmings wafted over me, with hints of fresh bread and coffee. The room was warm and lit by the fire, as well as several candles and a few oil lamps. On quick inspection I found a total lack of any modern appliances, or even electric outlets. The stove looked circa 1920. Who in the world lived here?