“Where do I go?” he asked his wife, who was too busy reading a book to give him directions. The husband reached the three-way intersection at the end of the long road which split off into two before them. He waited for his wife to answer left or right because he couldn’t very well continue forward into the barbed-wire and brush.
“You can get to the restaurant if you turn left,” she said, placing the book down.
From the left a motorcyclist was approaching, but—being hyper-focused on the unfamiliar road—the husband didn’t notice. Creeping the car forward, his wife had a miniature spasm attack of some sort.
“Watch out!—watch out!—watch out!” she shrieked, startling him into a stop. The motorcyclist slowed down and took a right, neglecting to signal his intention to make the turn.
“Oh be quiet, back seat driver!” the husband shouted and lurched the car forward to get out of the intersection. Huffing, his wife lifted her book to continue reading.
“Which way do I go?” his question interrupted her thoughts and she set the book down. They were further west than she’d realized and approaching a three-way intersection.
“You should’ve turned four streets ago,” she said, her tone sounding more scathing than she intended. Not only did she sound like a nag, but she knew it would set him off.
“You can turn right here,” she said softer, attempting to redact her previous tone.
It didn’t help. She could see her husband was too flustered as he crept the car forward. He didn’t see a motorcycle was heading straight towards them.
“Watch out!—watch out!” she screamed, but her shrieking made him stop right in the pathway of the bike. It smashed into the front side of the car, flinging the motorcyclist and his passenger over the hood. The wife watched as they flopped on the pavement, their unhelmeted heads cracking open and sloshing blood everywhere. Covering her eyes with the book, the wife began to hyperventilate as the image of a watermelon being dropped on the ground played in her mind, its red guts exploding in all directions from its broken shell. Oh God, she thought. How could they have hit them? If only she hadn’t been reading that damn book for class.
“Where should I go?” He reached a three-way intersection and had no clue where the restaurant was.
The wife looked up from her book and sighed. Of course he was pissing her off. He knew he should’ve asked sooner. Somehow he was always making her angry ever since he’d proposed by her request fifteen years ago. It wasn’t like he wasn’t going to do it. He was just waiting for the right moment, preferably when they weren’t talking to each other over the phone.
“You should have turned back there,” she said, thumb pointed behind them. You should propose to me… Let’s have a baby… Can’t we adopt…? I want to move so I can finish school and be with my family… The husband remembered her words as he slowed the car to a stop. Looking both ways, he saw a motorcycle approaching and appeared to be taking a right, leaving the way clear for him to make a turn.
“Watch out!” the wife screamed, grasping at the side handle and he slammed on the brake. The motorcycle wasn’t taking a right and he was in its path. Fortunately, the motorcyclist was far enough to swerve around the front of the car hood. Keeping the car still, a tight feeling clutched the husband’s chest as he realized what could’ve happened. He was so stupid for assuming the way was clear! If only he hadn’t missed the original turn in the first place.
“Oh my God,” his wife said, interrupting his internal self-shaming. “They’re turning around.” The husband looked over and saw that the motorcyclist and his girlfriend were heading back towards them and she was holding something.
“Get out of the intersection!”
The thing was a long, thick chain dangling from her hand. The woman began swinging it over her head before letting it fly, crashing into the backseat window of the car. It shattered on impact and spilled broken glass on the road and the back of the car.
“What was that?” The husband screamed, slamming his foot on the gas pedal as the woman reeled in the chain. He sped up until he was fleeing at over 100 miles per hour on the empty highway.
“Oh my God!” the wife repeated. Looking in the rearview mirror, the husband saw the couple on the motorcycle was rapidly gaining on them. The woman’s long hair whipped behind her as she winded her arm for another hit. Trying to dodge, the husband stomped on the brake and swerved the car towards the right. A loud clunk rang out as the motorcycle crashed into the back of the car. It flipped. The limp bodies of the motorcyclist and his girlfriend tumbled on the road in front of the car. But the man and his wife were too distracted to notice. Their own car lost control and careened off the road into a ditch. Airbags rammed into their chests and bludgeoned the wife’s hysteria into silence.
Despite the ringing in his ears and shortness of breath, the husband reached out to his wife. Shaking her, he asked, “Honey, are you okay?” She was unresponsive. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a knife to cut at the bag and deflate the air. Blood had saturated her shirt and a piece of black car interior jutted from her abdomen.
The words “recall” flashed in his mind. His wife shared an article about some faulty airbags being mass produced and his car was on the list. Get it fixed, she said.
“I don’t know what to do. What do I do?” the husband asked her as she was reading next to him in the passenger seat. Looking up from her book, the wife realized she had been more absorbed in the book than she had intended. Her husband had missed the turn and she hadn’t been watching to make sure that he was going the right way.
“You can turn left up here,” she said, it would only take them a minute longer than if he’d gone the right way. Her husband slowed the car to a stop but she didn’t know if he’d seen the motorcycle heading straight towards them. He was too flustered about being lost.
“Wait!” she screamed as he creeped the car forward into the motorcycle’s path. He stopped halfway into the intersection and the motorcyclist rounded the front of the car hood. The woman who sat behind the man on the motorcycle stretched out her arm towards the couple in the car with her middle finger pointed upwards. Grimacing, the husband kept the car still in the center of the intersection.
“You should get out of the intersection,” the wife suggested, rubbing his leg to get his attention.
“I’m not sure what happened,” her husband said. She could tell he was still feeling flustered from having missed the turn and then almost causing a motorcycle accident. She knew he was still unfamiliar with the roads and he was relying on her. Tossing the book in the back seat, she decided to keep it there.
“Just keep going down this street until we get to the next intersection,” she said. “You’ll have to turn right to get to the restaurant.”
“No,” he said, hitting the gas pedal to make a U-turn. “Let’s go home and order a pizza instead.”