Disclaimer: I don't own any of the main characters I use in this story.
'To fight aloud is very brave,
But gallanter, I know,
Who charge within the bosom,
The cavalry of woe.
Who win, and nations do not see,
Who fall, and none observe,
Whose dying eyes no country,
Regards with patriot love.
We trust, in plumed procession,
For such the angels go,
Rank after rank, with even feet,
And uniforms of snow.' - Emily Dickinson
The small grocery store was having a fair amount of business in the early evening hour. Families stopped by to do their grocery shopping for the remainder of the week, and various men and women made quick pit stops to pick up something for dinner or an ingredient they were missing from that pasta dish they were making.
Such was the reason a particular woman was out shopping. She couldn't believe she had forgotten not one, but two ingredients to something she'd been making for decades. Spaghetti wasn't rocket science, and she hadn't yet considered herself old enough to be having memory lapses yet, so she could only deduct her forgetfulness to the excitement of the past week. Her son would be coming home soon for the summer, and she was practically giddy with the anticipation of his home coming. She missed him terribly, and it felt like ages since he'd last been home on a break.
Thinking of him got her off track, and by the time she came back to where she was, she had walked into the frozen foods section. Laughing to herself and rubbing the goosebumps on her arms, the pretty woman shook her head and backtracked towards the vegetable aisle.
She took her time in choosing the right onion before bagging it and tying the twist-tie to keep it shut. She had one more item to pick up, and she now berated herself for not checking for her herbs way before she started preparing dinner. She hadn't used the herbs in the rack on the kitchen wall in a while, and she had assumed everything was well stocked until the very last minute.
Once faced with the dozens of little glass bottles lining the shelves, she blew out a sigh. "Now I remember why my son did all the grocery shopping," she muttered to herself. She began scanning the little bottles resolutely: Paprika, Sage, Cinnamon, Basil, Cloves, Garlic, and Nutmeg.
"Oregano . . . where are you." Thyme, Ginger, Rosemary, Chives, Oregano! She snatched it off the shelf, turned on her heel, and headed for the checkout. She only had two items, so it didn't take very long before she was out the sliding doors again and to her car.
When she tried the door, however, it wouldn't budge. Frowning, she peered in. She didn't remember locking the door, and damn it, her keys were in there! Muttering an expletive, she checked all her doors and found every last one of them locked. She must have accidentally pressed the button on her way out.
Sighing in frustration, she looked around the half full parking lot, briefly at a loss for what to do since this had never happened before. Everyone seemed to be minding their own business, and she doubted they could have helped her anyway. Finally deciding she'd better go back inside and ask for help, she started the walk back to the store. Once inside, she looked around for individuals in the red shirts that were customary for people who worked there. A young woman in a red shirt near a cash register caught her eye, and she headed for her.
"Excuse me, miss?" she asked the girl, who turned to her, a startled look on her face. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," the woman half laughed. "I, um, seemed to have locked my keys in my car, and I was wondering if your manager or someone could help me, or if they had a phone and I could call someone . . .?"
The girl looked at her blankly for a moment. "Oh." Her brow furrowed, and then she gave her sort of a sheepish look. "Uh . . . I don't work here."
" . . . Oh." The older woman felt her face flush with embarrassment. "Oh, wow, I'm sorry, this is . . . awkward."
The other girl laughed and put a hand on her head. "It's all right, you didn't know. But, um, I know what you can do to get it open. Do you . . . I don't suppose you have a hanger on you, do you?" Her brows knitted again and she suppressed a smile as she took in the woman's rather small grocery bag. "Kind of a stupid question."
"Not at all. I suppose I could -"
Their conversation was interrupted when a larger man wearing a red shirt and a name tag came up. "Do you ladies need help finding something?"
"No, sir, I locked my keys in my car and this young lady was helping me figure out what to do."
The man's face lightened in understanding, and then he made a motion with his hand. "I believe we can help, too. Come on, we've got something here that'll open your car right up."
"Thank you," the woman told him gratefully. She looked at the younger girl again. "And thank you very much for trying. I'm sorry for mistaking you for someone else."
"It's okay," the girl waved it off. "I hope you get your car open. By the way," she paused and reached out towards the other woman. "I like this color. It goes good with your eyes."
The older woman looked down at it, and then smiled warmly. "Why thank you. It reminds me of my son. You have a good day."
"You, too," she returned before walking away and going about her business.
The woman's day was certainly brightening quickly. The manager was able to help her out, and before too long, her car was unlocked and she was inside it again. Placing her grocery bag on the passenger seat, she turned the ignition on and left the parking lot, humming a tune under her breath as she drove the short way home. She knew the way like the back of her hand, and found herself daydreaming as she drove.
She was going to cook a large dinner when her son came home from college next week. All of his favorites, and then he would tell her all about this past semester. She missed talking with him and just hearing his voice - when was the last time she called him? He had called her about a week ago, so it was probably time to call him. Would he need help moving out, or would his friends help him with that?
He'd already proven to be very efficient on his own and able to take care of himself, and even while the thought made her proud, it made her sad and nostalgic as well. Her mind drifted back to when he was younger; when he really needed her.
Now he was a young man and more on his own than he'd ever been.
But was that really true? Thinking back, he'd been fairly independent as a teenager, an abrupt change that had startled her at first. She assumed it was just the growing up process, the proverbial 'hatchling getting ready to leave the nest', but it had come on so quickly that it made her wonder what she'd missed. When had he grown up on her?
Blinking back the burning in her eyelids, she let her eyes clear and focus on the road ahead, the intersection –
And the semi truck running the red light and heading straight for her car.
Panic hit her and she screamed at the alarming closeness of the truck and slammed on her brakes to avoid collision. She didn't stop quick enough, and the truck slammed into the right back door of her car, jarring her forward to hit her head on the wheel. The semi dragged her car for a few terrifying yards, and all she could do was grip the wheel and scream in fear as the sound of grating metal under her filled her ears. A sharp pain in her chest fired its way down one of her arms as her body was jarred with the car and the truck that held it.
The semi driver slammed on his brakes, releasing the hold on the woman's car. She had been pressing her foot on the gas pedal in a pitiful attempt to free her car and, now suddenly freed, the car careened away from the truck before she knew what was happening.
Fighting control with her own car and the fear and pain still gripping her body, she struggled with the wheel. Her arm hurt, her chest was screaming at her, and she was gasping for breath. She couldn't gain control, and the scenery outside was spinning wildly like that on a merry-go-round. It abruptly stopped once her tires were coaxed into submission, but her little car kept going. She jerked the wheel far to the right to get out of oncoming traffic's way.
Her mind didn't register the telephone pole until it was too late.