by J. A. Buxton
I believe in them, don't you?
Write a poem or story about the time you almost . . .
Years ago, I gave my Guardian Angel a real workout when I almost died. As I drove home on a sunny afternoon, ahead of me on the freeway I noticed a scruffy dog wandering in the slow lane. Since it was a holiday, there was only light traffic, but the image of a passing vehicle hitting the dog forced me to pull my little car over and stop.
After timing my exit from the car to when there was nothing going by, I quickly made my way around to the shoulder of the freeway. The dog saw me and began scampering toward an off-ramp about 500 feet away. I ran after the scared animal and hoped to guide it down the ramp to the safety of the nearby woods. This running was awkward as I was wearing a new pair of high wedge shoes that repeatedly threw me off balance.
When the dog suddenly left the slow lane and headed into the next lane, I heard a rumbling behind me. Racing toward the dog was a large Safeway grocery truck. This was when my Guardian Angel made its first intervention that day. I ran out into the lane between the dog and the oncoming truck while frantically waving my arms for the driver to either slow down or swerve into another lane. At hearing the blatting of the truck’s air horn off in the distance, the dog picked up speed and reached the off-ramp just as the truck raced by.
Something, maybe a late instinct for survival, entered my brain at the same time. I jumped back onto the shoulder and closed my eyes. The breeze from the speeding truck threw up debris from the freeway, and I found myself choking on the flying dirt. Only the Doppler sound of the truck’s horn fading into the distance remained as a reminder of my first close call that afternoon.
Seeing the dog hesitating at the entrance to the off-ramp, I once again ran down the gravel shoulder. The dog turned and saw me coming. Perhaps the sight and sound of a yelling human startled it into moving away from me. As the dog made its way down the ramp, I moved to hold onto the concrete railing at one side and waited to see if the animal made it to safety. I watched it leave the ramp and walk into the woods many feet below me.
Here is where my Guardian Angel must have given a huge annoyed sigh and intervened for the second time that day. I found myself leaning over the wall too far and suddenly felt my feet coming off the road. Once again those treacherous wedge shoes made me lose my balance. Visions of landing in a squashed lump on the ground way below flashed through my mind. About to flip over the low wall, I squirmed and wiggled and windmilled my arms until I slipped back off the wall onto the road.
Feeling that wonderful asphalt of the off-ramp underneath my bum, I sat there for long minutes until I’d caught my breath and slowed my heartbeat. Once I could stand, I kicked off those wedge shoes and tossed them over the wall. I didn’t even look down to see where they landed, but walked barefoot back to my car.
Thirty or so years have passed since that afternoon. I still probably would do the same thing again if I saw an animal in danger, but have never, ever again worn anything other than flat shoes.
Why tempt my Guardian Angel to lose patience with me?
Microsoft Word count = 600
"The Writer's Cramp" daily entry for 09/27/09