Snow whipped across the road, obscuring April’s vision. The windshield wipers of her [make of car] pumped furiously, but it didn’t help. The broad expanse of concrete that was Interstate ** was empty—at least she hoped it was empty. She couldn’t see more than twenty feet in front of her, the lines on the road were obscured by the snow, and the last glimpse she’d had of a sign—snow-covered and unreadable—had been at least half an hour ago.
“Why didn’t I pull over when I had the chance?” But she’d driven through several brief flurries, and with a CD in the player, she’d had no way of knowing those flurries were just the outer ragged edge of the worst blizzard to hit St. Louis County in fifty years. Besides, a woman alone, parked on the side of the road at two in the morning? That wasn’t such a good idea either.
“There is a traveler’s advisory for Interstate **.” She’d turned the radio on when conditions worsened—too late, apparently. “White-out conditions are intermittent, the interstate has been closed from *here* to *there.* Repeat, the interstate is closed from *here* to *there*.
“Oh, shut up.” April unclamped one hand from its death grip on the steering wheel and twisted the dial, turning off the radio. Was she in the closed part? She had no idea. If there’d been signs or warnings, she hadn’t seen them. She didn’t dare stop now, in the middle of the highway, and she was afraid to pull over because she couldn’t see the shoulder of the road. There was nothing to do but keep driving. If the road was closed there would be no help if she drove off the edge, or stopped and got stuck. At least there were no drifts. The wind powering the white-out was blowing too hard to let the snow settle on the road for long.
What had ever possessed her to drive to St. Louis pulling a trailer? She should have hired movers, or shipped the antique bedroom suite, instead of trying to bring it here herself. But she felt better having it with her. It was all she had left of Mom’s furniture—the one thing she hadn’t been able to part with. As she squinted at the white-on-white swirls of snow illuminated by her headlights she saw a tall narrow post pass to the left of her car. A road sign. She was headed off the edge of the road. Panicked, she slammed on the brakes and slid silently off the highway and down an incline.
April heard a scream as she fought to steer the car into the skid. It was her own. Going straight ahead down the incline was her only chance to avoid rolling both car and trailer. Time slowed to a crawl, every second stretched to the max as her mind shifted into high gear, calculating with lightning speed the motions required to save her life. A small part of her brain planned what steps to take if the car drove onto ice over a lake, what to do if the ice broke, how to react if she ran into a tree or other obstruction. As her mind flew, the skid slowed, and car and trailer drifted to a stop—safe, but whether by inches or by a mile she had no idea.