Last week we found ‘the valley of death’.
No, for reals we did.
It was a Tuesday morning. We were running late. We usually are. We had 3 minutes to get to school. That’s 2-minute driving distance + many stop signs + many of the schools in the free world, clustered together.
On a good day, we have 4 minutes to get to school. Those are the days one of us forgets the phone, or lunch, or snowpants, or the toonie for spirit day (translates to the $2 donation for the themed monthly donations in Canadian schools). Those days we stop ‘running’ and actually ‘are’ late.
One of those days we found the Valley of Death.
It’s the same route we’ve taken a million times.
This day was different. First, it was minus fucking freeze yer tits off. That means frozen roads. Turns are never fun on frozen roads. They are less fun when you grew up in the tropics. (And much as you wanted to buy into the oh-you-drove-in-the-desert logic, duuuuude…. Ain’t nobody travelling on sand on the way to work, except maybe a Bedouin, and even he uses a camel… Snow is a whole other thing. Ice? I have a healthy fear.)
I took the turn. I was at the bottom of a small hill. With cars parked on both sides. A woman was across the road from me, shovelling her sidewalk. The turn was not good. The combination of the ice, the sharp turn, and the uphill acceleration meant my car was not happy. It slithered. I gently moved it in what I thought was a nudge away from the car parked to my right. Except now I was hurtling towards the woman on the sidewalk on my left.
I have never actually seen the whites of the eyes of someone that far from me. I saw hers. She saw death. And the whites of my eyes. For sure. I swerved and swung madly. I knew I wouldn’t go far. It was uphill. There was no more gas going in. Physics would take over. I just needed to not panic and do something stupid.
We slowed. I steered. And kept my head on. And we were out of ice, and harm’s way. My heart was beating fast enough for me to feel the pulsing on the steering.
My daughter swore. My husband kept his chill. But there were knuckles. Pale knuckles.
That’s the day we found the valley of death.
It’s around the corner from us.