That Place Between Sleep And Awake


 

 

 

They’d gone shopping. After groceries it was the video store then the promise of burgers and fries.

 

Nikki backed the stroller out, her son followed behind with his nose in the bag of snacks they’d just bought while his new brother slept peacefully. She turned and looked at the busy rural route that lately was more like a highway. Cars were flying by although flanked by restaurants and shopping centers with driveways directly to the street as opposed to ramps for merging. Had everyone forgotten they had to slow to pull in and should yield for other cars pulling out, never mind paying heed to the light they’d have to stop at? It used to be more of a country road but since 9/11 many’d moved from the city to places just like this one, population had increased, summer homes that dotted lakes were turned into permanent residences and on the whole culture was changing.

 

“Good old days… then… now? That’s debatable.”

 

As they stood she saw a semi coming up on the light too fast and right in front of it was a compact car no higher than the front tire if that. “ A sitting duck. My…” The light changed to yellow, the smaller car began to slow, the truck maintained speed, but now they both had to come to a stop. Under any other circumstance if a car is rear-ended it’s the other guy’s fault but in the case of an 18-wheeler vs a compact all bets are off. Nikki didn’t realize her son’d been watching until, as the truck was rapidly reaching the slowing vehicle, he cried out as if there were a way to stop it on demand. His eyes fixated he didn’t move. She looked at him then at the truck. Its breaks squealed, a gust of air released, and it suddenly slowed as if it were no larger than the other cars on the street. Both vehicles came to a stop without colliding, not even a scratch. “Huh, not even a love tap.”

 

She looked down at Percy, crouched and bear-hugged him. “Good job kiddo. Hungry?”

 

 

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