By Melissa L. Webb
Julie sighed as she pressed her forehead against the cool glass of the passenger side window. It felt good against her skin, slightly calming the fury in her chest.
Carl was pushing every button of hers this morning. It made her wonder why they had even bothered to go on this trip in the first place. Her husband was a jerk when he got into one of his moods. He was even worse when he got behind the wheel angry.
“Don’t you think we should stop, Carl? Maybe get something to eat?”
Her husband glanced sideways at her, a frown on his lips. “Why? So you can have more time to yell at me? No way. We are getting to my parents’ house as fast as I can possibly drive.” He turned his eyes back to the road and took a deep breath. “I’ve had enough quality time,” he growled softly. “Ten hours trapped in a car with you is more than I can stomach today.”
Julie felt her eyes sting at those words. What had happened to them? There was a time when they couldn’t stand to be apart for more than a few hours. Now it was like pulling teeth to get them in the same automobile.
She loved his parents, but his mother’s birthday party wasn’t worth the hell she was being subjected to. Would it really kill him to be civil for a few days?
The divorce papers Julie drew up the day before were packed in her bag. She hadn’t told him about them yet. She’d been worried she rushed into things. That maybe their marriage could still be saved. Maybe they could work things out if they tried.
However, looking over at the tight-lipped man behind the wheel, she knew there was no hope. The chasm they created between them was just too deep.
There was no crossing it.
She’d give him the papers as soon as they got back into town. Assuming they both actually managed to survive the trip. If he kept going the way he was, she might kill him long before they even arrived at his parent’s house.
“Never mind,” she said glumly as she went back to staring out the window. “I don’t have to pee that bad.”
“Good,” Carl muttered tersely and fell silent.
Boy, it was going to be a long trip.
Julie watched the scenery as her husband slowed with the traffic around them.
“Hmm,” she whispered as she saw a piece of cardboard flapping in the breeze. It was taped to a wooden sawhorse along the side of the road. Written in somebody’s sloppy handwriting were the words: Collision ahead.
“What?” Carl grunted.
“There was a sign. It said collision ahead.”
“I didn’t see anything.”
“It was back there, stuck to a sawhorse.”
“Well, I don’t see anything ahead of us that looks like an accident. Was it put there recently?”
“How would I know? I don’t even know where we are,” she snapped, but she wondered if he was right. Maybe it had been there awhile.
Wouldn’t there be other signs of an accident if it were recent? Like flares, emergency workers, and groups of people standing around waiting to see all the gruesome details for themselves.
“Well, I doubt the sign was from today,” he said, ignoring her. “There’s no accident and traffic is speeding up. There is absolutely nothing to fret about.”
She twisted in her seat, wanting to get away from his condescending tone. Why did everything have to be a fight with him? She had only told him what she saw. He didn’t need to treat her like an idiot.
Julie took a deep breath, fighting back the tears. She just needed to get through the next few days. This whole nightmare would be over as soon as they got back and she gave him those papers. She could move on with her life and away from Carl’s negativity.
However, as the car moved on, she felt more and more uneasy. That sign had been put there for a reason. She was sure of it.
It was a warning.
But a warning of what?
“Something’s wrong,” she spoke impulsively, turning back to her husband. “We should listen to the sign.”
“What?” he said, glancing over at her in shock. “Are you crazy? There’s nothing to listen to. There’s no accident. It’s an old sign. Obviously people are too lazy around here to do anything with it.”
“No,” she snapped, finally putting her foot down. “We need to turn around, or stop, or something. We can’t drive any more on this road.”
“You are crazy. I’m not turning around. We’re already half way to my parent’s house.”
“Please,” Julie begged. “Listen to me. You have to stop!”
“Dammit,” Carl hissed, eyeing the hysterical woman next to him. “Fine. You want to stop? We’ll stop. There’s no way in hell I’m putting up with this for five more hours.”
He changed lanes suddenly, preparing to pull off the road. In his anger, he didn’t notice the truck in the lane next to him.
He did notice the sudden impact as it slammed into them from behind.
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb