Whines Rip My Soul
Rachael tapped her fingers on the steering wheel, humming to something from TransSiberian Express. They were playing their version of Carol of the Bells. She looked sadly at the passenger seat, wishing Greg was driving. She was happy to let him do the driving, in fact, he insisted on it. Instead, here she was, alone, on Highway 20, in the middle of the week, in the middle of nowhere. The antelope fence separated the highway from the sagebrush strewn miles stretching endlessly into the blue distance. Snow huddled in the shadows, shivering in the wind.
(Written in response to a Daily Prompt: A Source of Anxiety.)
Grand Mother called her last night. Aunt Donna was at the Farm. Rachael’s Aunt would leave Thursday, tomorrow. She wanted to see Rachael, and Grand Mother would not take no for an answer. So, after a surprise 9 PM call to Pam, with hints of a family situation, but no details, she was using a sick day.
Past Highland, in the dead spot, Pandora stopped. Wyoming was the last place for everything. This dead spot lasted fifteen minutes. Sometimes she wished she could live where they always had things. But, then, herds of people would swallow her up.
Starting up the hill, something changed. Startled, she leaned forward, tense. Her ears moved. Adrenaline left her shaky, weak, tummy lurching in surprise. A gust of wind startled her into a giggle. Then, almost too soft, she heard a whine. Something ground. The cruise control dropped out
Eyes frantically swept over the suddenly dim dashboard. She leaned forward, squinting for a clue. Tires rolling over the rumble strip, scaring her back to reality. She over corrected. Predictably, a car zoomed past in the other direction.
Her heart raced. hoping she imagined the noise. The wheel jittered. The whine gashed her soul. Panting, she tapped the gas pedal. The over powered SUV barely responded. To her anguish, the whine increased, and the wheel vibrated again.
She took her foot off the pedal at the crest of the hill. The road ahead was empty. The whine was gone, and the wheel felt right. Maybe it had fixed itself. Pushing down on the gas, the whine returned, slicing her soul. The steering wheel trembled. A warning light flashed on the dash. The SUV slowed.
Ahead a ranch road led off to the south. Rapidly slowing, she steered toward the haven on the far side of the road. The whine screamed her fear and anger. The wheel shook violently, echoing the terror in her heart. Rocking in her seat, she urged the SUV across the lane.
Rachael looked down at the rpm and speed dials at zero. Everything else was blank. Wind rocking the SUV made the only sound. She turned off the key, then turned it back on. Fear washed through her when nothing happened. She pressed the emergency blinkers. Nothing happened. She shivered violently as frigid air devoured the warmth.
Taking her iPhone, slid her finger, and pressed the little phone. Seeing no service, not even emergency service, Rachael uttered an unladylike word. She was definitely colder, and shivered again. Eyes darting out the windows, she pulled on her coat. She tied to guess how far it was to the edge of the dead spot. Her phone map blinked stupidly, insisting she was still at Highland.
She pounded her fist into the wheel. How was she she supposed to get to the Farm. Grand Mother would never understand. Wind rocked the SUV again. Surely, someone would come along. Grand Father always told her she should inside with the doors locked. The cold wind would turn into a popsicle in just a few minutes.
But, who would stop? Everyone read those stories. “Young woman disappears. Abandoned SUV found beside road. Authorities hopeful.” Tears welled up. Why had Greg let her come? She slipped on her beanie and pulled on her gloves. It was all his fault. Wiping her eyes, she willed her heart to slow, to take calm, normal breaths.
Then she saw head lights. She kissed her crucifix with an arrow prayer. Then, as if watching another, she pulled on the door handle. Wind pushed back. She fought the door. Icy wind tore into her jeans, from her boots to her leather jacket. Grabbing fruitlessly at her hair, she stepped to the crunchy gravel.
Wind whipped her scarf. Pushing it out of her face, she raised an arm. The approaching lights turned into a semi. Rachael took a deep breath and walked a few steps. The truck edged to the side of the highway, loud horn booming in the wind. She put on her best helpless smile and waved.