Exhausted, I pull over to get a coffee and stretch my limbs. This drive was supposed to be relaxing but after I left Charlotte I got lost.
The store was nearly empty, less the cashier who toyed with his phone and a clicky pen. My boots echoed down the isles as I found the coffee counter with my nose. Cup, lots of sugar, a long drag of irish creamer and topped off with five hour old Colombian brew. The spoon swirled the mixture into a beautiful marble pattern before it became one, nearly reflecting my own skin tone. I took a few sips of the hot liquid before I glanced around for a snack. Finding nothing, I made my way to the counter to pay. I pulled out my cash as my anxiety kicked in again that I was possibly not headed the right direction.
“So I’m heading to Linesville, if I keep on this highway how long do you think it’ll take for me to arrive?” the kid behind the counter handed my change and shrugged. His dark bags told me he had only recently started working swing shifts. I nodded understandingly and started to walk out.
“About two hours.” a deep voice carried from the coffee station I was just at. My heels spun my body in the right direction. Green eyes caught mine. Mine held a more blue hue most days, while his were bright and their golden flakes managed to catch the horrid fluorescent lighting.
“Oh, two hours? Not bad.” he crossed one leg over the other and leaned on the silver counter top. His black coffee causing steam to drift up his facial features. Two day old stubble highlighted his own dark circles. He nodded and pushed himself up and he walked out the door. I couldn’t explain the pull that caused my feet to follow to the door. He held it open for me and I couldn’t hide the blush that crept up my neck. It was quickly extinguished by the cold night air.
“Thank you.” a small smile and nod were all I offered as a thanks and I headed to my red jeep rodeo. The old door creaked loudly and the man’s eyes caught mine once more as he climbed into his black truck. I took another long sip of coffee and turned my car back on.
Back on the road, the coffee had no effect on my alertness.
“Come on Audrel, stay awake…″ I muttered to myself, one hand rubbing my eyes. The contacts were bothering my eyes, so I swapped them out for my glasses before I left the gas station. I shut them for just a second and as they opened I saw a deer bolt out in front of me. My heart jumped into my throat as I slammed on breaks and jerked my wheel to the right, sending me down the shoulder and straight into the woods. My rodeo took the dirt and rocks like a champ but was no match for the tree line that appeared before my eyes abruptly.
My horn blaring called me back awake. My eyes struggled to focus on what my one headlight illuminated in front of me. Trees, green bushes and I couldn’t understand why they looked so odd. My left arm ached so I held it close to my body as my eyes searched for my phone. It was then I realized I was upside down. Panic flooded my mind. I took a deep calming breath and tried to relax. I could figure this out. My right hand searched the ceiling of the car, my whole bag had spilled and my stuff was everywhere. Coffee stained the light fabric and my ears began to ring. Dark patches clouded my vision and I started to feel light headed. I had no concept of time and my pain was increasing. I took a deep breath to try to come back to reality that I was truly stuck and alone.
Footsteps pulled my thoughts to the outside world of my overturned car and two arms reached to my driver side door. They pulled the handle with no luck. I could hear a man’s voice, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying over my car horn. Legs circled to the windshield that was badly cracked, like a spider web. A fist found the center and the glass finally crumbled all around me. Blackness took over my vision briefly so I blinked over and over but something was stinging my eyes. My hand went to brush it away when I felt the wet liquid. As I examined the red stain on my hand, a voice shouted over the car horn.
“Ma’am, I’m here to help you. Are you hurt?” the gruff voice reminding me of someone.
“My head, I’m bleeding and my arm, I think it’s broken. I don’t know how…” I couldn’t seem to form the right words to the stranger.
“Okay, everything is okay. You’ll be alright.” He ripped the seat belt from the latch and I slumped down onto the roof of my car. I couldn’t stop the yelp of pain as my thigh stung something awful. My hands shook as he reached for mine.
“Slowly, there ya go. I can smell gasoline, I want to get you away from the car okay?” I nodded and let a shuddered breath out as I crawled through glass, and rested on the cool, soft grass.
Every step up the hill sent a shot of pain down my leg and I cradled my arm tightly. My eyes locked with a truck. A black truck. A flash of memory hit me as I turned to my rescuer.
“You… the gas station.” He nodded and sat me down against the front of his truck that was still running. Exhaust and gasoline filled my nose as I looked at the crumpled vehicle to the side of the road. His hands were so warm, cupped my cheeks softly and turned my head to him.
“That cut is bad, on your leg. Just sit here, help is coming okay?” I nodded as I heard an explosion. The mystery man shielded my body with his, his knees digging into the ground and a curse left his lips.
“Thank you.” I whispered absentmindedly as he removed my glasses and pressed something to my head. I winced and pulled away a bit and the buzz of foggy adrenalin that had consumed my body faded. Pain set in and tears filled my eyes. His facial features were hard and I could tell he was still on high alert. A vehicle pulled up as I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the truck’s grill. Blackness filled my mind and I let it take me, finding relief from the pain.
The sterile room’s smell filled my nose and I slowly opened my eyes. Soft beeping caught my attention and reminded me of the jeep’s horn blaring, drowning my hearing. I looked around and saw I was in some sort of clinic room. IV attached and a pulse/ox clip on my finger. My pain was minimal as I pushed myself to sit up. I take that back. A lightning pulse of heat shot up my leg to my hip. I looked down and lifted the blanket and saw my leg stitched and loosely covered in gauze.
“Hey there.” a soft woman’s voice snapped my attention. Her uniform was a bright sky blue, matching her eyes and her blonde hair pulled up into a bun.
“Hi. where am I?” she sat down on the edge of my bed. Flipping through my chart before closing the file.
“This is Thornapple, PA. You’re in the Gentry pack’s clinic. I’m P.A. Simmerman. You rolled your jeep, gashed your head, split open your thigh from your knee to your hip and almost broke your arm.” I blinked over and over. I just slowly nodded and sat back on the bed. The thin pillow was uncomfortable for my sore body. She waited til I spoke again.
“Did anyone find my glasses case in the jeep? I can’t see well without... something.” she paused, taken back from my changing subjects so abruptly.
“I can ask the Alpha if he saw anyone recover anything from the jeep but it caught fire. Do you not remember that?” I shook my head slowly as my heart broke a little. I loved my jeep. We had driven a hundred thousand miles in college alone
“Must be from the concussion. It’s normal. I’m sure you’ll get some of that back soon. Well, I’ll go work on finding those glasses and you get some rest. Dinner will be served soon.” She stood and checked one of my monitors before leaving the room. My stomach growled for a rare steak and pan fried potatoes. And a beer. God I would kill for several right now.