DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION
“You know what Samantha? If this music is going to make you so sad, then maybe you should stop listening to it,” my sister Megan jeers, loudly, like she’s the boss.
I wipe my wet and blurry eyes with the soft brown sleeve of my sweatshirt and snuff up my nose so hard it makes me cough. “But this is Mom’s favorite song!” I yell back. The song is about trusting in the Lord and I don’t want Mommy to go to heaven with him yet. God is supposed to be the great physician, but he hasn’t fixed Mom. She should be at home right now, not stuck in some hospital bed. I would trust God if he gave me a good reason to.
My sister leans over me and punches the FM button on the truck’s radio, turning it to “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer”. This music is way too cheerful and I grit my teeth and put both my hands over my ears, while squeezing my eyes shut. Then I push the CD button. Megan bounces forward across me flipping her ponytail in my face and pushes the FM button again.
“You know what? Radio off.” Dad hits the off button. My sister can’t be quiet, so I know she’s going to say something.
“Oh, good job!” She says to me. Her voice is like a screech owl’s. “Now we can’t listen to anything at all!”
The rain is pounding against the front windshield and it’s fogged up really bad. I can’t even see out of it. I wonder if Dad can. He’s driving way too fast and he’s staring straight ahead. I can tell he’s angry when he gets really quiet like he is right now.
I hit the CD button again and skip to song number six. Mom loves this song too and my face turns hot as tears well up in my eyes.
“Daddy!” says Megan. “How come she can listen to her music but I can’t!”
Suddenly I just snap. ”Mommy might be dying and all you care about is your music!” I turn to my Dad and yell at the top of my lungs. “You made me go home early and I wanted to see Mommy a little bit longer!”
Wait a minute. I grab on to the edge of my seat with both hands. There really isn’t anything good to hold on to and suddenly, it feels like the back wheels are sliding through thick mud and the tires are bumping along. Is the car on a slip and slide?
“Hang on girls!” my dad yells.
I put my hands under my knees and duck my head down to my legs. I think this is the position you’re supposed to be in for a crash, at least on an airplane.
Then my head jerks up. “Daddy! We’re going to hit the trees!” I scream. He doesn’t say anything. His hands are clutching the steering wheel in a death grip and his knuckles are white.
Dad’s window is spinning and all I see are green spindly pine needles on wet scratching branches. They’re clawing at the window like they’re trying to get in. Then there’s a sudden jolt that splashes the diet Coke I just got from McDonalds all over the place.
I’m sitting in silence. I think we just crossed back over the road sideways and now we’re in a muddy ditch. It happened so fast I don’t really know what happened.
“Is everyone okay?” My dad turns to me and then looks over at my sister. The truck smells sticky sweet because of the diet Coke that exploded everywhere. It’s all over the sleeves of my favorite sweatshirt and my pants legs.
“I’m sorry I was yelling,” I cry. “I didn’t mess up your driving did I?”
“Well, you did mess him up a little,” chimes in my sister. She can’t be quiet for anything.
My dad cautiously opens up the truck’s door. “Well, at least that still works,” he says.
I look out the window and it looks like the rain has let up some and now I can actually see the dark gray sky.
“Daddy, where are you going?” my sister says in a panicked voice.
“I’m just going to check things out.”
I watch him as he disappears from view. “I’m coming too!” I yell.
“No! Stay in the car!” he answers back.
This road is dangerous and I know, I should stay in the car, but I’m not going to. I step into the mud and my shoes slosh and stick and make sucking sounds as I lift my feet. My feet are getting cold as my socks soak up water through the holes in the top of my shoes. The front of the truck looks fine. No cars are coming. It’s safe to go where Daddy is and then I see what happened. The whole left side of my dad’s shiny blue truck is one long scraped up and caved in, muddy dent. The bumper is twisted and hanging off and there are tree limbs in the bed of the truck.
“Things are bad, but they could have been a lot worse,” says my father.
“You think God was watching over us so we didn’t crash too bad?” I say. I know for a fact we could have hit a tree, a telephone pole or a car, head on. All of the sudden it hit me, if God can protect us like that, maybe I should trust in him to make Mom better.
I look down the road and I know town is still really far away.
“It looks like He kept us safe from harm,” my dad says. “Let’s get in and see if we can make it in to town. Otherwise we have a long, cold, wet walk ahead of us.”
I climb into the truck and my sister blurts out, “Daddy told us not to get out of the car!”
I think I’m going to listen to some Christmas music.