who's to say what would have been different about that day if the nail would not have nestled deep into the rubber teeth of the tire, leaving us stranded by the side of the road to bake in the sun. frankly, i don't like to think about, but i do.
late is something we never were. early or on time, but never late. even vacations were discharged with clinical precision, suitcases piled neatly by the door until the appropriate time to be put in their appropriate place so the door would whumpf shut and we could be on our way, on time.
tires hummed, siblings argued, mom navigated by torn map pieces, and dad stared ahead hoping it would all be over soon, or my sister at would wait at least 30 more mile before needing to visit another gas station just to inspect the interior decorating of their bathroom. there really is no way she could have actually used the bathroom that much.
pshwapt...balarubprubprupt...the sound of a cat trapped in a box followed by a small earthquake shaking our car, and we found ourselves drifting off the road into the scrub, where highwaymen hide the bodies. at least that is why we stay in the car with the doors locked, watching the shadows of birds circling overhead. so much for being on time.
even though the windows are sealed tight, we still heard dad teaching the lug nuts new vocabulary as his shirt darkened from white to a wet grey. surely some kid left the nail balanced perfectly on its head, just for him. mom turned a brilliant shade of red, though she said it was the sun. when i try them out later, i end up with a washcloth full of ivory soap on my tongue. evidently it was not the sun.
the crunch of the tires in the dirt and stone signaled our return to the road, and as we crested the hill, blue lights greeted us, slow hands signaling us through the wreckage. faces pressed to the windows, life rolled in slow motion, etching our minds with pictures, then the wind blew through the golden fields and its was all behind us.
some song played on the radio and being on time just didn't seem important any more. flat tires, not so much of a curse. nothing is random, not even the nails. sometimes i think about that.
This story was written for the prompt at Magpie Tales.