Today, the sun is shining, but it’s only one or two degrees above zero, and there’s a winter storm advisory in effect for the greater Sheridan Wyoming area until eleven o’clock tonight. In other parts of the country, heavy snow is causing power outages, road closures, and flight delays and cancelations. So much for going over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, I thought, as I heard the news.
This would not be a good day to be stuck in your car on a highway in the middle of nowhere with no heat and no gloves, but such is the case of a woman in the story below. This tale was originally published in Emerging Voices and is also on my Web site.
The wind blew, causing the snow to descend in walls of white that often obscured her view of the road and the darkening sky. “Why didn’t I stay where I was?” she asked herself, as she drove at a snail’s pace along the Shirley Basin Road, which wound its way from Medicine Bow to Casper, Wyoming.
The interior of the car grew colder and colder. She fiddled with the heater knob, but nothing happened. “Oh no, I don’t have any heat.”
She pulled to the side of the road, ignoring the sliding noise the tires made. She searched for her gloves. They weren’t in her coat pockets. After discovering they weren’t in her purse either, she realized she’d left them at the convenience store in Medicine Bow.
“I should go back,” she said, after taking a few deep breaths and warming her hands in her pockets. “There are people in Medicine Bow. There is warmth in Medicine Bow.”
The engine whined, and the tires skidded on the newly fallen snow. In a frantic effort to free herself, she gunned the engine and rocked the car back and forth. The motor continued to whine and the tires slipped deeper into the drift. After a few more minutes of struggling, she took her foot off the gas, switched off the engine, and put her cold hands back into her pockets.
Close to tears, she breathed in and out several times. Here she was, stuck in a snowstorm on a deserted road with no heater, no gloves, no cell phone, and no food. Who knew how long it would be before help arrived? “Why didn’t I at least get something to munch on at the convenience store? What am I to do now?”
The night was silent except for the wind and the sound of blowing snowflakes pelting the car. Shivering, she zipped her winter coat as high as it would go. After tightening the hood around her face, she wiggled her toes inside her boots. With a sigh of resignation, she buried her hands deeper in her coat pockets and settled herself more comfortably.
“It doesn’t matter. What do I have to live for, anyway? If God exists, and this is his way of punishing me for running away, so be it.” She closed her eyes and let herself drift, though she knew this was dangerous.
Something woke her, perhaps a sense of impending doom. Then she heard it, a car engine running behind her. She turned and saw a figure looming outside her driver’s side window. She gasped in horror, as she recognized the angry face. No, it couldn’t be, she thought. He couldn’t have known where she was going. Since she had no relatives in Wyoming, the chance of him finding her here appeared slim. But here he was, standing outside her window, glaring at her.
His knuckles rapped against the pane with several sharp thuds. Her panic rising, she turned the key in the ignition and automatically locked all the doors. After pounding for another minute, he withdrew a key from his pocket and unlocked the door. Of course he would have brought the spare key, she realized, as he opened the door and reached for her.
“How did you find me?” she asked, as he yanked her from the car, slammed the door, and pinned her against it before delivering a hard blow to her cheek.
“I followed your tracks,” he said, as he struck her a second time. “I found these on the counter at the Super America in Medicine Bow.” He removed something from his pocket and tossed it into the snow.
“My gloves!” she said.
“I knew you couldn’t be too much farther away,” he said, as he hit her a third time. “You
never did have any sense so I figured I’d find you stranded here somewhere.”
He released her. Stunned, she bent to retrieve the gloves, and he delivered a sharp kick to her back side, which sent her sprawling in the snow. The anger rose within her. She bent her knee and kicked as hard as she could behind her. Her effort was rewarded when her foot struck something solid, and he yelped in pain. She jumped to her feet, and as she put on her gloves, she turned and glared at him as he lay doubled in the snow, clutching his crotch.
She flung herself on top of him, knocking him flat on his back. With her gloved fists, she pummeled his face. “Now, you’re getting a taste of your own medicine,” she said, as she struck
his eyes, his nose, his cheeks, his mouth.
The blows sounded sharp. “Ma’am, are you all right?” called a voice.
She opened her eyes. It was no longer snowing, and a bright moon shone. The lights of a
snowplow blinked behind her, and a man was standing at her window, knocking on the pane.
Dazed and shivering, she opened the door and said, “I have no heat, and I left my gloves in
“Your heater doesn’t work at all?” he asked.
“No,” she answered, as she shook in earnest.
“Why don’t you get into my vehicle where it’s warm and I’ll call a wrecker,” he said.
“You don’t want to drive anywhere without heat in this weather.” As he placed a hand on her
arm, she recoiled. “It’s okay. I’m here to help you.”
Abbie Johnson Taylor
Author of We Shall Overcome