We crawled like blind mice on solid ice ...
The weather had never affected my plans this seriously before. We needed to get to the new house. It was late. Packing up the old apartment had taken too much time. The problem was fitting everything we owned into a tiny U-haul trailer hooked to the car. A jigsaw puzzle if ever there was one.
Not to worry, all went well all the way down Route 40 to Maryland. LaVale loomed closer. We would make it, albeit later than we wanted. It was after midnight now.
Then we hit fog, the kind of stuff they describe as "pea soup." Now I finally understood the term. And we hit it at the top of Big Savage Mountain. The name, by the way, befits the animal. We knew from other excursions that it was a long, steep road to the bottom. And yesterday's snow was packed ice now. Sleek, slippery ice. The trailer was heavy, filled heavier than it was meant to be. Hey! I can never throw anything away! Easing over the summit to dip downward, we could feel the weight of the overloaded trailer shifting forward to nudge us from behind. The ice! I can still see my husband's foot pushing against the brake. I held my breath and prayed.
A quarter of the way down! That was good! Right? Until Ron said, "The brakes are getting hot."
Knowing little about cars, I asked, "What does that mean?"
He didn't answer. And so I knew. I began my praying again. The fog! Wasn't it bad enough we were riding a rollercoaster dip of a road down Savage Mountain, did we have to have the fog, too! And at night.
We couldn't see anything, crawling like blind mice on solid ice with an overloaded trailer hooked to the back of our little car. A trailer that intended to call the shots, to be the force that propelled us once the brakes gave out, intending to send us careening down Mt. Savage, gaining speed in pea soup where we wouldn't see where we were gliding to. To hell, that's where. Isn't that where people go to when they die, the ones who can't throw anything away and overload their trailers, to later go galloping down mountains in the fog in the snow with no brakes.
More prayers. Rigid in the seat, I glued my eyes to the windshield. Ha! As though I could watch the road. The high beams revealed nothing but petulant clouds of fog.The pressure from the U-Haul emitted a silent scream of danger. I felt like my shoulders were bearing all its weight.
My husband hands gripped the wheel so hard they turned white. He quit talking long ago, his foot straining against the brake. He was managing to keep us under control, although the pressure on the brakes was unimaginable. We just wanted to go straight, no swerving on the ice, no skidding over the edge of the road. No losing control and flying off the mountain.
We inched and inched. The brakes got hotter. My husband's hands on the wheel got whiter, and my head grew closer to the explosion point. I could see Ron holding on to the wheel, jerking us back on track continuously. Did time ever move so slow? The pressure from behind. How long could the brakes withstand the weight of the trailer pushing against us at this steep angle? The fog! Would the fog never lift?
At long last it did, as little splotches of silhouettes from the outside world eased into view. It meant we were getting closer to the bottom. If we could just hold on ...
The last quarter of the descent seemed longer than the rest. By this time, I sat like an ice lady, unfeeling and out of prayers. When the lights of the city beamed through the wispy remains of the fog, I came alive again. The road leveled out and the mountain loomed behind us. We'd done it. We made it home.
Copyright 2007 JO Janoski
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