An original story by me, based on true events. If you like this story, there’s more where this came from. Please drop me a like, a comment, or a follow if you’re feeling generous. I’d love to follow back and read your writing as well!
Impact by Nicole Locorriere
“You should probably take the bus today, or let me drive you to school,” my mom said.
“What? Why? I already missed the bus. Just let me drive,” I said. My coat and gloves were already on, and I was prepared to brave the February elements.
My mom stood in the doorway of the kitchen with her arms folded across her chest. She was dressed for work, and my sister was sitting at the kitchen table shielding her bacon from our dog.
“The weather said it was supposed to be icy today,” my mom said, nodding toward the kitchen TV.
“It didn’t even rain or snow or anything last night,” I said.
She shrugged and rolled her eyes at me. “I don’t know Nic, condensation? Ice fairies? I don’t care how it got there, I just don’t want you driving in those conditions. Especially not around the lake.”
Lake Surprise. The Union County Park Commission had purchased the Feltville Reservoir for the Watchung Reservation around the 80’s, and then they renamed it based on the fact that it was impossible to see from the road until you hit a particularly sharp turn.
“I’ve been driving around the lake every day since I got my license!”
“And how long ago was that? Eight months?”
“Umm, that’s a lot of days.”
“Try driving for over 25 years and then tell me eight months seems like a long time.”
“Why are you being so difficult? It’s not like this is the first day it’s been cold.”
“Just go through Summit instead, okay? There are safer ways to get to school.”
“Fine,” I said, throwing my gloved hands in the air.
“Nicole Marie. I’m serious. Be so careful.”
I did go through Summit, but that only kept me from having to go around the lake. The reservation covered 2,000 acres, and there was no way for me to get to school without going through the Thirteen Bumps.
The Watchung Reservation used to be home to Lenape Indians until settlers started coming in and building it up the way they wanted it. However, a legend states that the village of Feltville, a now deserted section of the reservation, was also home to a family of thirteen witch sisters in the mid-1700s. They felt it was being violated by newcomers who build it up, so they would cast spells to bring them bad luck. The settlers got so frustrated that they hanged all thirteen of them from trees somewhere deep in the Appalachian Mountains, and burned their bodies. They buried the ashes under what had since become Glenside Road, the street that I took to high school.
One week after the construction of the road had finished, thirteen bumps appeared. Twenty years later, in 1993, the county had it re-paved to level them out. Two days after that, they resurfaced. Supposedly, they’re the bodies of the witches, and you have to count them as you drive over them, because if you count twelve, it means the ghost of one of the witches is out. I never necessarily believed that, but once in a while it was fun to count the bumps to amuse myself on the ride.
And then a hill. I had to accelerate.
And then I was sliding.
At first, I slid to the right, past the shoulder and off the pavement. I watched a tree branch shatter my passenger side mirror, heard them scrape the paint off the doors.
God fucking damn it. My dad is gonna kill me.
I tried to turn the wheel and get back onto the road, but the car wasn’t doing what I told it to do. I thought about hitting the brakes, but I couldn’t remember what my dad had told me when he was teaching me to drive. I knew that you only pump your brakes if you don’t have anti-lock brakes. I couldn’t remember if I did or not. Was pumping the brakes even for an ice situation? Maybe it was for hydroplaning. I was speeding ahead on the wrong side of the double yellow lines. I had to do something. I gripped the wheel tighter and tried to turn it back into the trees, but the car wanted to be on the road.
There was another car coming up over the horizon. Fear washed over me like nothing I’d ever felt. I had never known what it meant to have your life flash before your eyes, but I always imagined it meant seeing a slideshow of where you’ve been. A commemoration, like something your family puts together after the fact. It really means that you see where your life might go without you.
My sister will grow up not knowing how amazing I think she is.
My boyfriend will marry someone else, and he’ll thank God he didn’t stay with me and miss out on his soul mate.
That means I didn’t have a soul mate.
And my parents just spent all that money on fucking college application fees. They’ll have to call all of the schools and tell them to discard it- Nicole won’t be attending anywhere in the fall.
The front end crumpled like paper and smoke filled my vision. The windshield was shattered, but there was no cold air coming into the car. There was an odor of burning plastic making me feel sick, and I tasted blood, but I felt nothing. The radio was still playing a Rihanna song:
If you let me, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll take care of you.
The first thing I thought to do was run to the other car. In a panic, I tried to unbuckle my seatbelt, expecting it to be stuck like in car accidents on TV, but it wasn’t. I ran to the other car, and pounded on the window.
“ARE YOU OKAY?” I yelled like a madwoman. The other driver was a frail old lady, and I had startled her.
“No I am not okay!” she yelled back at me, looking at her shaking hands. I was sad that she was mad at me. I shrank down like a scared puppy.
I wanted to call my mom. She would know how to handle this. But I didn’t, I called 911 before anything.
“What is your emergency?”
“I was just in a bad car accident on Glenside on the way to Governor Livingston High School.”
“Glenside Road or Glenside Ave?”
Are you fucking kidding me?
“I don’t know. It’s on the way to the high school, parallel to route 78.”
“There’s two Glensides, dear. I don’t know which one you mean.”
“I gave you all the information I have! It’s in the reservation, it’s literally one minute from the school.”
“Okay. We’ll find you. No need to raise your voice. Is anyone hurt?”
“The woman in the other car might be.”
“Okay, honey. Someone will be there very soon. Thanks for your call.”
“Excuse me,” someone tapped me on the shoulder. I jumped, and spun around to see a woman dressed for work. Her dark crossover was parked across the street. “I saw the whole thing. Are you okay? You shouldn’t be running around so much in case you’re hurt.” She handed me a tissue. “Your nose is bleeding.”
I touched the tissue to my face and sure enough, it came back red.
“Is the other person alright?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, and suddenly I was crying. The woman went to the other car and I stood on the side of the road, sobbing and hiding my face from my classmates who were driving by, rubbernecking.
“She wants you to sit with her in the car,” the woman yelled to me.
My heart felt like my windshield must have. I went and sat in her passenger seat, and the woman that I almost killed held my hand and we cried together as we waited for the cops to arrive.
Very soon, there were flashing lights at the scene.
“Where is the driver of the Jeep?” one of the cops asked me.
“That’s me,” I said, stepping out of the Camry.
“Why are you out of the car?”
What did he mean, why was I out of the car?
“I had to see if she was okay.”
He laughed at me. He actually laughed at me.
“You need to get back in the car. It’s freezing out here. Do you need a tissue? Your nose is bleeding.”
“I have o-” I stopped. There was no tissue in my hand. The woman who gave it to me was gone- her car wasn’t there. I checked my pockets for the tissue- nothing. “Yeah, I guess I’ll take it.”
“Nic! Nic, what happened?” My mom’s voice permeated all of the noise.
Shit, I forgot to call my mom. There was sheer terror on her face. I couldn’t imagine what was running through her head as she approached this scene.
“How did you know to come?”
“You called but it was just white noise and then you didn’t text me that you got to school on time so I came and I found this!” She gestured to the chaos. Somehow, there were three cop cars, a fire truck, and a line of traffic farther than I could see. I felt guilty.
“I didn’t call though,” I said, dazed, looking through my phone. It didn’t show a call to my mother, not even an accidental dial.
She hugged me super tight, and I started to feel some soreness.
“Do you know what day it is?”
“A year since grandma died. You had a guardian angel looking over you today.”
Was there a chance I’d really been saved by my grandmother? No, definitely not.
But honestly, there had been twelve bumps, and something terrible did start to happen. If the witches wanted me off of their territory, I’m sure they would have been able to handle little old me with no help. I was a pushover. And then there was the blank phone call. I absolutely did not call my mother. I specifically remembered not calling her because I knew in an emergency all she would tell me to do was call 911, so I did that instead. And then the lady had shown up, so I forgot to call. Who was that lady, anyway, and where did she go?
For one fleeting moment I wondered what my grandmother looked like when she was young.
“Yeah, I guess I did.”