Sunday, July 21, 2013

Prompt: Found on the Side of the Road

Sharon yawned and reached for her water bottle. She was making good time in the sparse traffic on this long stretch of I-85, but there were no exits to take a break. She moved into the left lane to give an SUV in the margin a wide berth. Cresting the hill, she set the cruise control on 79 and leaned back into her seat.

She barely registered the large black tarp in the central margin. She thought it was a truck tire at first, but as she passed by, it flapped in the wind. And she saw a foot. A surge of cold panic flooded her body. She barely glanced in the rear view mirror to check for cars behind her as she slammed on the brakes and slid into the central margin.

She scrambled out of the car, grabbing her water bottle and cell phone. Her thoughts were a jumble, but that foot blazed in the middle. She raced back toward the black bundle – she could see the edges of the tarp clearly now. One had folded back and revealed a slender foot. A woman’s. Sharon stopped a few feet away, afraid to go closer. She opened her phone and got ready to call 911.

Slow steps brought her the rest of the way. She dreaded what she would find. She grabbed the flapping tarp and ripped it high. She froze at the sight and let go of the tarp. Out of her hand, it was out of her mind. She didn’t even notice whether it blew into traffic or down the hill into the margin. A naked woman lay at her feet. She was on her back, with her arms splayed to the side and her right leg clearly broken, jutting at an awful angle away from her hip.

Sharon forced her gaze to the woman’s face. Her head was turned toward Sharon, and her long brown hair spread like a tangled halo around her. Her eyelids fluttered. Sharon gasped and dropped to her knees beside the woman. Dear God, she was alive. Sharon hit the call button on her phone.

“911, where is your emergency?”

Sharon cried, “I don’t know! I’m on 85. I don’t know where! There’s a woman! She’s hurt. Please—”

The calm voice on the other end said, “Ma’am, what’s your name?”

“Sharon. I’m Sharon. Please, you’ve got to—”

“Sharon, you said there’s an injured woman?”

“God, yes! She’s passed out, I think. And she’s naked. She was under a tarp on the side of the road.”

“Sharon, you’re on 85?”

“Yes, but I don’t know where!”

“Are you heading north or south?”


“Do you see any signs, like an exit or a mile marker?”

Sharon looked around wildly. “Nothing!” She started to cry, great heaving sobs.

“Sharon!” The voice said sharply. Sharon drew in a deep breath, and her voice quavered. “Yes?”

“Sharon, I need you to calm down and think. Close your eyes.”


“Trust me, Sharon. Close your eyes.”

“Okay,” Sharon closed her eyes and heard the rush of a car passing by.

“Good. Now, take a deep breath. That’s right. And another. Yes. One more. Okay, now, open your eyes. Sharon, is your cell phone a smart phone?”

She looked down at her new iPhone. “Yes…Oh! I can look on the map…”


Okay, I got bogged down by technical details here, and I ran out of steam while looking for the answer. So maybe this is an exercise in using research, or how much detail to include.

And can I just say sometimes I do not appreciate the visions that pop into my head while I am driving!

I’ll share a memory this prompted. I once worked for a security company in South Boston. 4:45pm on a Friday afternoon, my boss gets a panicked call from a young bank manager who cannot get the safe open, and it’s on a timer to lock down for the weekend, but they still haven’t put the till funds etc. inside. Trouble is, he is so panicked, he cannot tell her their location! So she exercised a little tough love. She told him she was going to hang up and he should call back, hoping that would force him to pull himself together. She did, and he did, and one of our guys managed to get the safe fixed in good time. But I’ve never forgotten that call!

Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle
Sinead O'Connor, The Lion And The Cobra
Time writing:
@45 minutes
July word count:

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