(what? I've felt very "write-y" lately)
The box in my lap shifted gently with the movement of the car. With the heater directing warm at my face, I was rather complacent in that twilight state of almost being asleep.
We crested a hill and saw another set of headlights coming toward us. The oncoming truck was driving down the middle of the road and swerved a little to get out of the way. John swerved lightly as well, but our little two-wheel drive did not recover as easily and we fishtailed a bit. A clung a little tighter to the box while John muttered something and tried to relax his white-knuckle grip on the wheel.
"You didn't tell me your sister lived out in the middle of nowhere," he said finally.
"I told you she lives on a mountain..." I knew John was stressed from the drive, but he was not going to lay the blame on me. "And that it was back roads to get to her house."
"People in Vail live in 6 million dollar homes with paved driveways and they live on a mountain."
I nestled back in my warm seat and opted not to reply to this rather illogical statement. If he had drawn conclusions that were wrong, that was still not my fault. Not to mention that I'd offered to drive, but no, what would John's misogynistic father say if he found out? The shame would be -
John's yelp pulled me out of my sleepy thoughts. My eyes snapped open and I caught a split second glimpse of the little Jeep careening around the curving road. I don't remember the actual impact, but rather the effort it took to get out of the car after airbag deployed and I was choking on the powder. Our car had spun and hit the mountainside several times but my door opened enough for me to drop into the snow. Cookie crumbs marked the snow -- the box in my lap had not survived the crash. I needed to find John and reassure him. He would blame himself, but it was clearly not his fault. I heaved to my feet and made my way around the car.
"John!" I hadn't realise how silent it was until I screamed. John lay in the snow, slowly turning it all a jarring shade of crimson.
"I- should have- listened to you, babe." He reached a hand to me and I knelt down to take it. "You better make sure the baby always wears a seat belt." He set a hand on my abdomen and I wondered how he knew, I wasn't even sure yet myself. He squeezed my hand, "I sure do love you."
"John I love you so much!" I screamed it at him, as though I were mad. He looked at me curiously, but then closed his eyes and laid his head down on the snow. I felt his grip go slack in my hand. I screamed again.
The blankets were soft against my cheek. I nuzzled them a little but they didn't smell quite right. Slowly I resumed conscious thought and opened one eye, then the other. The wall across from me was a mural of the beach. There was a medical quality stethoscope on the nightstand next to the bed. I was in my room but-
Then I remembered. The flash of lights. The Jeep. John. I sat up and looked around. Somehow I'd gotten to my sister's house. It was actually our childhood house and this was my old room. I swung my feet out of the bed and toyed with the stethoscope. I put one end to my stomach to see if I could hear a baby. Just silence, and a little gurgle of hunger. The door swung open.
"Oh you're awake! Good! What in the world are you doing?"
I lept from the bed and nearly knocked over Lee with my barreling hug. My sister is no wimp though and she was ready for it. She wrapped her arms around me and didn't let go when I suddenly started crying again. What a picture it must have been as I stood there half dressed, a stethoscope around my neck and bawled into my older sister's flannel shirt. When I was done I sat back down on the bed.
"We finally got worried and sent a search party. By party I mean me and Bobby and then Jack and Rusty. Rusty found you first of course, dogs always win these sorts of things and so she and Jack brought you back to the house." She paused. "Not much we could do for John but bring back his body and call the sheriff. The snow's picked up though and the sheriff won't be out for a few more days, so we sort of just have him out back."
"Okay." I didn't know what else to say. Then suddenly I realised something. "What about the Jeep?"
Lee frowned. "We're not sure actually. The tracks and slide marks and what have you all indicate it slid right off the side of the mountain, but Bobby was all over it trying to see down the mountain with his new binoculars and he didn't see anything."