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This was the best April had felt in years. She had actually gotten out of bed. She had gotten Jake off to work without breaking down. She had made Sarah and Justin breakfast for the first time in ... well, the first time in forever. Then they were safely on the bus, again with no tears. And now, after four hours of housecleaning (did she really let it get this bad?), their Topeka house was almost spotless. Only the ceiling fan left. It's amazing what a little Zoloft can do for you.
She climbed the stepladder and replaced two burned out light bulbs. She tried to think of a joke, how many bipolars does it take to change a light bulb? and laughed at herself when she couldn't come up with a punch line. It had also been a long time since she could laugh at herself.
She dusted the fan, one long stroke down each blade, top and bottom. Months of accumulated dust stacked up on the Swiffer. Cleaning was so much easier in modern life. Too bad everything else was so complicated. She dropped the used cloth into the trash can below.
Then she tied the belt that was looped around her neck onto the fan. I definitely couldn't have done this yesterday, she thought, and a wave of accomplishment washed over her as she kicked out the ladder. The belt went taut with a snap.
Driving northbound on US 41 toward Brooksville, Carl adjusted the radio station, looking for the game on a clearer station. He found one, sort of, and the drive crackled along for another half mile or so. He wished he could have been in Gainesville to see it in person. But duty calls.
Elsie, driving southbound on US 41 toward Tampa, could not get thekids to settle down. Someone was touching someone else. Again. A Day in the Life of a Soccer Mom.
Harold's mind was fixed on the unsettling events of the morning. He shuffled his feet in the gravel just off the shoulder of the highway, seemingly oblivious to the cars speeding along just a few feet away.
The game faded out again on Carl's radio. He started punching the scan button, alternating his focus between the road and the racing numbers on the dial.
Elsie's cell phone rang. That had to be Rick. God, she hated cell phones. Being "connected" was so overrated. Well, I'm not answering this time.
Carl found the game, but it was in Spanish. He hit the scan button again.
"Mom, she's still touching me."
Elsie turned briefly towards the back seat. "Don't make me stop this car!"
Both cars strayed towards the centerline, and both drivers looked up at the same instant. Elsie jerked the wheel to the right while Carl locked up the breaks. There was a squealing of two adults, three children, and eight tires, followed by a crunching sound as the cars sideswiped each other just on the east side of the centerline, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision.
Carl's car came to an abrupt stop, pointing southbound in the northbound lane. No other cars were approaching. He patted down various parts of his anatomy. Nothing seemed broken. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
Elsie careened onto the shoulder. The car spun and slid but did not roll, finally coming to rest one hundred yards north of Carl. She clawed at the airbag, pushing it out of the way while she scrambled to unfasten her seatbelt, crying out for her children all the while. Finally, she extricated herself.
Dylan, Alice and Martin were sitting three abreast across the back seat, just as they had been before the crash. Alice and Martin were white as sheets, a little puddle of urine between them on the leather seats. Dylan was smiling broadly. All three were breathing and whole.
"Mommy, that was fun. Let's do it again!" Dylan squealed.
Elsie broke down in tears and thanked God for His protection.
Harold did not thank God for His protection. Though there had been bad days before, many in a row in fact, today was stacking up to be the worst ever. First, his boss at the KwickMart had fired him for lifting cigarettes. Then his girlfriend had fired him for losing yet another job. And since she was the one with the car, he had to walk the three miles down busy US 41 to get back to his trailer. And if all that weren't bad enough, now he had Elsie's left rear tire on his chest.
But then, I won't be needing this chest anymore anyway.