Writer's Cramp - 515 Words
|"Dad, did you know when an elephant dies the herd grieves. Even if they find a skeleton, they circle and hover over the body. Listen to this, they fondle the bones; they lift them with their trunk and stand by the elephant. They mourn. Jake won't wear his headphones and I want to finish this book before we get to grandma's house. Tell him Dad, so I can finish my book."
Our annual trip to my mother's house started as usual - me, checking the engine, anna storing food in the trunk and the kids loaded down with their gear. Julie stashed her elephant books in the floorboard and Jake brought hot wheels, movies, and power rangers.
Each year, with visions of the perfect Christmas, we hit the road full of energy and laughter. The kids don't notice when our hopes die. I can't leave the office behind, too many deadlines. My wife is paranoid about the house and goes through a mental checklist.
"Bob, I think I left the oven on. No, I didn't use the timer. We need to go back."
"No, forget it, call Barbara she won't mind checking it for you. Let's forget everything and have a good trip."
By the time, we hit the interstate, the kids continue their fight over books and movies. I take the exit ramp.
"Thanks, Dad for making Jake use the headphones. Did you know that elephants cry and feel sad?"
"No, Julie I didn't. Now you kids be quiet, get along."
Back on the interstate, I checked the gps and figured we had time to make the evening meal. For a moment ,I felt that maybe this trip would be the one, no problems. One small fight about headphones and now everyone seemed content.
Wanting to arrive earlier, I pressed the accelerator and pushed it to eighty. Arriving early would please everyone.
In the distance I saw the lights; I started swearing. By the time I stopped, the traffic was backed up, too many cars to count.
"What's wrong, Bob. Don't these people know they will make us late?"
"Anna, isn't this just our luck, of all days, someone has to mess it up?
"Daddy, take a detour we need to get to grandma's on time."
While, we sat in the car and complained, we didn't notice the first driver that exited his vehicle. Each driver got out and spoke to the driver behind him.
"Look, Daddy what are they doing?"
"I don't know Jake, but it looks like we will know soon."
When the lady approached our car, I lowered the window. Worried about the delay, I thought she might have some re-routing information.
"Sir, there's going to be quite a delay. It will take some time to clear the highway. The driver, the husband is still alive, but his wife and children are dead."
I carried the message to the vehicle behind me. When I returned we sat in silence.
As the message continued down the highway we became like the "silent herd," a compassionate people, our hearts circling and guarding the dead.