The Driving, Part III

It was the beginning of winter, her first winter. It was also the first day of snow. The snow had apparently started coming down during the night. By early morning when it was time to walk from the house to the front of the block where the wagon wheel stood, the snow had already made a thin dusty layer on the ground. It was her first time walking on snow. It was still dark and she was walking alone. She wasn’t wearing the right winter outfit unfortunately. Her jacket was still a fall coat, not a thick winter one. She was wearing a pair of tennis shoes instead of snow boots. The tennis shoes did not have enough tracks at the bottom. But at that time, she knew nothing about the consequence of what she had put on that morning.

She came out of the house as usual. She wasn’t actually completely alone. There were a few other kids also walking to the same direction, but it was still so dark on those early morning winter days that she could barely see anyone. She started to walk as usual, trying to beat off the cold by walking a little bit faster. It was so cold that the chattering noise inside her mouth was almost deafening to her ears. Luckily she was too busy walking anyway to be bothered by the loud musical teeth. Then the first one hit her, and it hit her hard too. Wham! It was as if there were hands coming out from the ground pulling her feet forward all of a sudden. She fell hard on her bottom. Ouch, that one was shockingly hurt. It’s been so long since she fell down on her bottom. I think the last time it happened was when she learned to roller skate as a little kid. Perhaps there was another time when she was learning how to ride a bike, but those were distant memories and the cold, wet ground just snapped her mind right back to the present. She was sitting right in the middle of the street. She looked around her. Phew…a relief sigh. Luckily no one was around, she gladly thought.

She got up, brushed the snow from her jeans and bag, and started walking again. She reminded herself out loud to be careful this time. But poor baby, where was her angel when she needed one. It happened again no sooner after she had just finished her own sentence. She was obviously having a rough morning. She slipped in exactly the same manner too, almost like teasing her. That’s okay, she got up and did the same again, started walking. And again, a repeated theatrical sight. The Three Stooges could not even possibly perform better than her. What usually took about 2- or 3-minute walk became a 10-minute walk.

By the third fall, she vividly remembers her frustration. She was so frustrated to the point that she was on the verge of tears and wanting so desperately to give up everything at that moment. She also remembers the thoughts that came to her head, “How could anyone possible walk on this? I don’t know how to walk anymore!” She was considering to just go back home again and ask somebody to take her to school instead of continuing the painful walk. But then she didn’t want anyone to laugh at her or think of her as needy. She stupidly thought that she would be bothering them if she asked for help. So she sat there in the middle of the street confused, not knowing what to do. After what felt like a very long time, she finally decided to continue and got up, walking so pathetically slow and careful. Now as she’s driving the car and picturing herself doing the walk on ice, a smile is breaking up again on her face. See, she wasn’t walking. She was doing Michael Jackson’s moon walking. Her feet never strayed too far up from the ground.

On that day, she quickly learned her lesson about the snow. Respect snow. Never underestimate it. And to never let her guard down on that white beast on the ground! Actually, after having much more experience now with snow, her guess is that there was probably a layer of ice underneath the snow on that early morning, but she wouldn’t even know it at that time. She didn’t even know the difference between ice, sleet, and the many different types of snow during her first maddening experience with winter.

Oops, a stop sign. Quick, break! Snapped back from her reminiscing about the past, she’s thrown back to the present time by almost missing a stop sign. Luckily there is no other vehicle around. And no police either. She has come to an intersection, a two-street intersection. If her memory serves her right, she’s thinking that the street in front of her may be the one where she has to turn right. Still no other vehicles anywhere, and so she sits there for a minute to think. Up ahead, it looks non-promising. Just more farms and farm houses. To the right also looks the same. From her mirror, she can see that a car is approaching from behind. Time to make a decision.



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