The short story collection I'm currently working on, This Is Going To Sound Like Fiction, has just reached the 150 page mark!
If you enjoy True Tales of Everyday Crazy, here's a special sneak peek. This is the story that just brought me to page one-five-oh... hope you enjoy! Please, share with a friend if you know someone who needs a laugh. Without further ado:
We Don’t Wear Helmets in Georgia!
When I attended college in Florida, I made friends with two charming Southern girls, roommates who hailed from Waycross, Georgia, and were proud of it. One weekend, I went home with one of them, Anna, who was sweet as a pecan pie. On this excursion, I got to experience first-hand the Southern accents, comfort food, country living, and, oh yeah—a near death experience.
It all started when Anna suggested we take one of her four-wheelers out for a spin. I was a bit skeptical, as I’d never been overly enthused when it came to motorized vehicles, let alone one that didn’t have a roof. Not wanting to put a damper on things, I agreed to the plan, since Anna seemed very excited about it, and I didn’t want to disappoint my gracious hostess.
It was a gorgeous, sunny Georgia day—warm and dry, not a cloud in the sky. As we started out, Anna hopped into the front seat, and I jumped on behind her, throwing my arms around her waist and beginning to relax a bit as we went skimming over the dirt roads winding away from her home and into the leafy green woods that seemed to stretch on forever. Previously, there’d been no wind, but now my hair lifted lightly above my shoulders as we zipped along, speed increasing as my cares melted away.
“You wanna try?” Anna called over her shoulder.
“No, I’m good!”
“Come on! It’ll be fun!”
And before I could protest any further, she was pulling over, jumping off so we could trade places.
“I don’t know,” I hesitated dubiously, slowly scooting forward.
“You’ll be fine!” She gave me a quick lesson, showing me how pushing a trigger beneath the right handle bar would make it go, while pulling the throttles beneath the handlebars would slow the four-wheeler down. We resettled ourselves into our new seats, and I cautiously urged us forward, mentally noting the feel of the machine under me, recording it’s response as I sped it up gradually. Soon, we were zipping along at about the same rate Anna had been driving, which I would venture to say was at least 30 miles per hour or so, but for all I know, it could have been 70. I was never good with estimating or numbers, but whatever speed we were actually traveling at… suffice it to say, it felt pretty darn fast.
So we were flying down this dirt road, and Anna was chattering on in my ear about people who’d recently gotten into a four-wheeler accident. Apparently one of them had died. I was frowning, wondering why she’d chosen to share that with me at this particular moment, and deliberating as to whether or not I should slow down, because now the trees and bushes on either side of us had become a shooting green blur out of the corner of my eyes, and then Anna happened to say, in the most innocent of voices:
“I don’t know why we don’t ride with helmets.”
Which, of course, I had already wondered to myself when I’d climbed on, because, after all, didn’t state laws require that even plain old two-wheeled bicyclists use helmets these days? But maybe that was just another rule that they had all mutually decided not to follow in Georgia. Lest you think I am exaggerating, let me take you back to the day before, when, much to my shock, upon arriving in Waycross and driving down increasingly smaller and lonelier (but still paved, mind you) roads, when we reached one two-way stop, Anna didn’t even so much as slow down, let alone, stop, at the stop sign! If anything, she sped up, barely glancing for any oncoming traffic before plowing through the intersection. As my mouth fell open, she shot a glance over and grinned.
“Oh, we don’t stop at that one!”
(One other thing you should know about the Southern accent, is that, when spoken by a sweet Southern girl, it makes absolutely everything sound not only acceptable, but perfectly legitimate).
But fast forward to the current situation, and see why I’m the queen of irony. The comment about not wearing helmets had literally just exited Anna’s sweet, delicate Southern mouth. At that precise moment, the earth under me changed—though we’d been on a dirt road the entire time, I believe we struck a patch in the path that, for some reason, was oddly loose—and at that moment, there was no longer any traction. The handlebars suddenly felt like spaghetti, and, in spite of my frantic efforts to slow the four-wheeler and control the steering, before either Anna or I could say anything, we were careening off the road.
The four-wheeler sailed into a rather deep dish, smashing into the side of it and flipping over, during which point, ironically, I broke my fall with my head. As I flew out head first and wasn’t destined to go very far (due to the side of the ditch greeting my noggin), the four-wheeler fell heavily on top of me as it turned over.
Anna was flung out all together.
For one utterly terrible moment, I was too petrified to turn my head, fearing that when I did, she would be unconscious, or covered in blood, or dead, or any number of situations that were too awful to imagine. But I heard her before I saw her, and the first words out of her mouth were, “Oh, my hand! Thank goodness I can still sign!”
As I glanced her over, I realized that she wasn’t bleeding, wasn’t in pieces, and was already checking to make sure she could still perform sign language (Anna was a deaf education major in the middle of her junior year). If I hadn’t just endangered both of our lives, I might have laughed. Someone else would be thankful they could walk, see, talk…
All Anna was worried about was signing.
I wriggled out from beneath the four-wheeler, and after we both looked each other over and made sure all of our body parts were still working, we managed to flip the overturned four-wheeler back into an upright position. Driving it, however, was going to be a problem. It seems that my head wasn’t the only object to collide with the ditch. The alignment on the four-wheeler seemed completely off. And, um… it didn’t want to start.
As I apologized profusely, Anna set about trying to call her Pop from her cell phone. The signal wasn’t perfect, but eventually we got through, and several minutes later he came roaring up in his pick-up truck, grinning a jolly old grin in spite of my mortified “I’m so sorry!”s. We rode back to her house three to the seat, as all the while I replayed the accident in my head, amazed that neither Anna nor myself seemed to have suffered a fate worse than a few bruises (okay, they were giant bruises, but still, considering I’d broken my fall with my head, and Anna had been thrown from the four-wheeler, traveling through the air, also landing un-helmeted? Pretty minor injuries).
On the way back and later that night, I kept remembering an ex-boyfriend of mine who had suffered a similarly ridiculous auto-accident. Granted, he was, for some forgotten reason, hanging on to the top of a moving car in a parking lot, but, like me, he had landed on his head as a result of this brave vehicular attempt. I was recalling this story because while he felt fine at the time, apparently he had suffered some kind of a hematoma, and either hours later (or maybe the next day, I don’t really remember)… he lost his sense of smell.
And with it, his sense of taste.
So I kept imagining all the wonderful scents and even more wonderful tastes I would miss if, at some point later this evening or the next morning, a similar disaster might befall me. What would I miss the most? The ooey-gooey warmth of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven? The salty smell of the Atlantic, on a gorgeous summer day in Delaware? My favorite potato chip, Herr’s Sour Cream and Onion, to which I was so addicted and so crushed to find unavailable in Florida, that my mother and grandmother had to mail down to me in care packages throughout all of my college years?
Luckily, I wouldn’t have to find out, and even more luckily, we were both alive and spared from serious injuries. Anna and her entire family were very forgiving of me, grateful that Anna had made it out of the incident unharmed. I believe the four-wheeler was eventually repaired, and someone (though definitely not me) probably even enjoyed riding on it for years to come.
A small part of me wonders if Anna has, in fact, completely forgiven me. If she hasn’t, I don’t blame her. After all, I did nearly kill us. I think if she chose to let her anger out on me, she did it when she named a future kitten of hers Jenny.
Not only did Jenny turn out to be a boy, but if memory serves me correctly, he also got hit by a car.
I’m sorry to say I don’t think his auto accident turned out quite as well as mine.