Instinctively, she slammed on the brakes and jerked on the steering wheel attempting to avoid the deer that ran out of the forest. She felt the tires lose their grip on the asphalt, the car skidding toward the drop-off with nothing to slow its progress or prevent it from slipping over the embankment.
The ride down the steep slope was bumpy and noisy. Even with her seat and shoulder belts tightly fastened, she was tossed about as the car ricocheted off trees and boulders leaving pieces of torn and twisted metal to mark its path. The harrowing trip seemed to last an eternity before the car slammed to an abrupt stop, the nose pointed up slope while the trunk end was tilted down slope.
“Double dog shit,” she muttered watching clouds of dirt and debris billowing outside the windows.
The car slipped backward and she automatically reached out to steady herself. Her right arm smacked against the jagged edge of the passenger door that was caved in almost to the middle of the compartment with the rest of that side of the car. “Bad move,” she said rubbing her arm, sure that a bruise would soon be forming where it had collided with the crushed door. And that it wouldn’t be the only one. Again, the car moved slightly, settling at an even more severe angle. She ducked as something large and heavy thumped onto the car’s roof crushing it to within inches of her head. “I better get out of here.”
She pulled the handle on the door and pushed. It seemed heavier than normal but she knew that to be caused by the extreme angle the car had come to rest. She grunted against the weight managing to push the door open until the trunk of a tree prevented her from moving it further. She struggled to hold the door in place while she attempted to squirm free. But the tilt of the car meant she had to move upward while also trying to hold the heavy door that was trying to fall downward. She yelped losing the battle and barely managing to pull her foot back inside before the door slammed shut. “That was close. Okay, Plan A won’t work. Guess I need a Plan B.”
Sitting again behind the steering wheel and holding it tight to steady herself, she looked around for anything that might help her out of her dilemma. “I can’t stay here. Unless someone happens by and notices the skid marks, no one will even know I’m down here. And there’s no way my cell phone will work in this canyon.” She noticed the key was still in the ignition and turned to the ON position. “The engine isn’t running but I wonder if the battery is still working.”
She reached for the window switch and pressed it. The window slid down disappearing inside the door. “Hot damn,” she cried happily. But her elation was dampened when, straining to poke her head out the opening, she saw that the distance to the ground was more than she expected.
She maneuvered around until she was sitting with her back to the door. Slipping her head out the open window she braced her feet against the seat and took a firm hold on the window frame. The angle and pitch of the car made it difficult but she finally pushed and pulled herself out through the opening until she was able to sit on the door. “Okay, so far, so good,” she glanced to her right then to her left trying to decide which end of the battered wreck would be better to climb down from. “Trunk is not good, too much damage. And I’d probably roll down hill. Guess I go over the hood.” She looked at the front end of the car where hissing noises could be heard from under the crumbled hood. “I just hope the damn thing doesn’t burst into flames underneath me.” She was glad she had switched the ignition to OFF and removed the keys before attempting her escape.
With great effort, she somehow managed to stand on the window frame then inch her way forward until she could place one foot onto the hood. Slowly, she eased into a sitting position and scooted forward. With her legs hanging off the front of the car, she took a final look at the ground below. “Here goes nothing,” she said pushing herself off the hood.
Her legs buckled as soon as her feet hit the ground. But having anticipated the impact, she threw her body forward using the steep incline to her advantage to prevent from sliding under the wrecked car. “Now, we go up,” she said as soon as her legs stopped stinging from the shock of the hard landing.
Grabbing hold of anything her hands could wrap around and wedging her shoes against the rocky ground, she made slow but steady progress up the precipitous slope. She almost burst into tears when she thrust her hand upward seeking another handhold only to have it land on the road surface. It took her a few more minutes to scramble the rest of the way to safety.
Sitting on the edge of the asphalt, she stared at what was left of her car. Twisted and crumbled, the car was wedged between two trees. Lying on top of it, after having smashed in the roof, was a large tree branch that had fallen from one of the trees. “Well, it’s definitely totaled. What about me?” She realized it had never occurred to her to assess any injuries she might have suffered before making her escape from the wreckage.
She wiggled her toes and flexed her ankles then repeated the actions with her fingers and wrists. Stretching her arms out straight, she carefully twisted her back and neck then breathed a sigh of relief. “Everything seems to be working. Except this hurts a little. I must have smacked it against the steering wheel. Next car, air bags,” she told herself as she gently poked the tender tissue around her breastbone. “And I have a whopper of a headache.”
After several minutes, she pushed herself up to stand, giving her body time to adjust to the new position before turning to walk up the road to the home she shared with her wife of two years.
They had purchased the house located at the end of the canyon specifically for its isolation. The lack of neighbors was important to the couple who cherished the quiet but it also meant there was little probability of anyone driving past and aiding the woman, especially since she had driven past their nearest neighbor before the accident.
Diane was sitting at the back of the house on the patio enjoying a cup of coffee and the sunset while she waited for her wife to return home. It was a little later than she had expected Carol to return but she wasn’t worried as it wasn’t uncommon for wife to lose track of the time.
Diane looked over her shoulder into the house when she heard a distinctive and persistent chiming. “Who the heck can that be?” Reluctantly, she set down her coffee cup and stood. Padding across the patio she mentally ran through the list of possible visitors who might be ringing her doorbell at such a late hour. She gasped when she opened the door and was greeted by her disheveled and exhausted wife. “What the hell?”
“Sorry, hon. I must have lost my keys somewhere.”
Diane reached to wrap her arms around Carol but stopped, unsure if she had any injuries under the dirt that seemed to cover every inch of her. “Are you hurt? What happened?” she asked, her arms still held open.
Carol stepped into the offered embrace, comforted when the familiar arms tightened around her. “A deer ran out in front of me. I tried to avoid it and ended up going over the side.”
“Are you all right?”
“I think so. But I wouldn’t say no to a hot bath and a cold beer. And not necessarily in that order.”
Diane guided Carol into the house and across the floor to the set of stairs leading up to their bedroom loft. “Can you?”
Carol sighed staring at the carpeted steps. “I think so,” she said as she lifted a foot and placed it on the first step. She leaned against Diane, glad for her support, as she climbed upward. “By the way, the car is totaled.”
“We can buy a new car. It’s you I can’t replace.”
Diane popped the lid on a can of beer and set it down on the edge of the tub. “I suppose I should call the sheriff,” she said as she knelt by the tub retrieving the washcloth from Carol’s hands.
Carol leaned forward so her back could be soaped. “Nothing they can do tonight.” She hissed when the cloth came in contact with a sensitive spot.
Diane squeezed the cloth, rinsing warm water over her wife’s scrapped skin. “I still think I should run you down to the hospital.”
“Why? Nothing is broken and I’ve been bruised and scrapped before. I always heal.”
“Just to be sure.”
Carol sat up to look into her wife’s eyes. “I’m fine, honey. Amazing when you consider what’s left of the car but I’m fine.”
“I can’t believe you got out of that mess. Not after the way you described it.”
She smiled, reaching up to caress the worry lines out of Diane’s brow. “Guess I just needed to get back home to you.”
“I’m glad you did,” she whispered bending forward to kiss her wife. After several heartbeats, she pulled away. “Let’s finish getting you cleaned up so you can get into bed. Then I’m going to call the sheriff.” She placed two fingers against her wife’s lips before she could protest. “That way, should anyone spot the accident and report it, at least the sheriff will know that no one is in the car.” A pink tongue slipped around her fingers then pulled them into a warm mouth. “You’re pretty feisty considering what you’ve been through tonight.”
Carol sucked on the wet fingers several moments before releasing them. “Wash my hair so we can get to bed.”
Carol lay back on the bed waiting for Diane to join her. “It was just a freak thing with that deer running across the road when it did.”
“We’ll need to call the insurance in the morning, too.” She padded around the bed. “Think we’ll need another blanket?”
Carol rolled onto her side. “All I need is you. Get into bed.”
Diane grinned. “You are too bruised to be thinking of doing anything tonight,” she laughed sitting on the bed and reaching to switch off the lamp on the night stand. No sooner had the room been pitched into darkness when an arm encircled her waist and she was pulled down onto the mattress with her wife spooned behind her. She squealed in surprise, “What are you doing?” Warm hands found her breasts, caressing them with strong fingers and she moaned as her body responded.
Carol slipped a knee between her wife’s, sliding her thigh upward as her right hand explored sensitive skin moving downward from Diane’s breast. Her left hand continued to squeeze a firm breast, her fingers pinching the aroused nipple. “Spread your legs,” she whispered. When Diane complied, she slid her fingers along silky labia lips enjoying the moans of desire she was eliciting from her lover.
Diane felt Carol shift then three fingers were slowly pressed inside of her only to be withdrawn seconds later. She spread her legs wider, “Inside, baby. Please.” A gasp escaped her lips when the fingers were eased back inside then opened to tease the sensitive walls of her vagina. The fingers were again withdrawn. “Baby, please,” she begged to be filled again.
Carol was ready to explode. Just listening to her wife’s moans was setting her body on fire. She struggled to control her orgasm until she could share it with her wife’s. She re-entered Diane. This time her thumb raked against her lover’s clit, its nail scrapping the engorged bud. Diane screamed, her body convulsing in response. That was all Carol needed to join her.
Diane woke to the sound of her wife’s gentle snoring. She was draped over Carol’s body, her arms and legs cocooning the woman. She smiled when Carol’s head rolled toward her. “Good morning.”
“How do you feel?”
Carol wrapped her arms around her wife’s waist, pulling their naked bodies as close as possible. “Wonderful. How about you?”
Diane snuggled even closer. “The same.”
“I love you, Diane.”
“I love you, too.”
The women drifted back to sleep.
Diane opened the refrigerator and peered inside. “What do you want for breakfast?”
Carol walked into the kitchen, a large fluffy towel wrapped around her body. She smiled when she saw her wife was still naked after their shared shower. “I’m not really hungry. How about a glass of whatever juice is in there? You want a towel?”
“Apple? And no.”
Diane pulled a bottle of apple juice out of the fridge and carried it to the kitchen table. “The choice of juice or me wanting to stay naked?” she asked as she set it down then padded over to a cupboard to retrieve two glasses.
Diane grinned. “You never did tell me how you were feeling this morning,” she said as she joined Carol at the table. She filled both glasses with juice.
“Not too bad. A little sore in a couple of places.” Carol smirked. “But I doubt it has anything to do with the accident.”
Offering her a glass, Diane smiled. “I’ve got a few of those spots myself. We should call the sheriff since I never got around to it last night. And I guess we should probably get dressed.”
“Do we have to?” Carol pouted.
Diane emptied her glass. “Come on,” she said standing up and holding a hand out. “We don’t want to scandalize the poor man if someone reports the accident before we do and he shows up to find us both naked.”
The doorbell chimed just as Diane walked down from the bedroom. “I’ve got it, honey,” she called up to Carol who she had left in the bathroom brushing her teeth. She chuckled when she heard a muffled and unintelligible reply. Crossing to the door, she pulled it open to find two uniformed officers standing on her porch. “Good morning,” she cheerfully greeted the men.
“Mrs.,” she corrected.
“Um… I’m Sheriff Baker and this is my deputy,” the sheriff said nervously.
“Please come in.”
The sheriff gestured for his deputy to enter the house first. “Thank you,” he said.
“Please sit down. Carol will be down in just a moment.” Puzzled, the deputy looked at the sheriff who shook his head and shrugged. “Is there a problem?” she asked.
“There was an accident last night?” the sheriff said.
“Yes. My wife tried to avoid a deer and ran off the road. We were just getting ready to call you. I guess someone beat us to it.”
“Your wife was driving?”
“Was she alone in the car?”
“Yes. What is this all about? I mean, Carol is okay. She managed to get out of the wreckage and walk home.”
“I’m… Um… I’m not sure how to tell you this—“
“Tell me what? What is wrong?” Diane’s voice was rising with her concern.
“We found the car, Mrs. Carpenter. But…”
“Perhaps, you should sit down.” The deputy placed his hand on her elbow only to have the arm yanked out of his grasp.
“Dammit, will you tell me what you’re talking about!”
“We found a woman in the car. Her driver’s license identified her as Carol Carpenter Phillips.”
“You mean you found her wallet. I told you, Carol is upstairs.” She looked from one man to the next waiting for their confirmation.
“No, ma’am. She was in the car.”
“That’s not possible,” Diane screamed. “She came home last night. We… We…” She turned away from the men and ran across the room. “Carol,” she called as she ran up the stairs to the bedroom. “Carol.”
The sheriff stopped his deputy from following. “Stay here,” he said as he started up the stairs after the distraught woman. He found Diane standing in front of an unmade bed, her arms wrapped around herself as she sobbed. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” he said softly. “She couldn’t have been here.”
She was, Diane thought. But she wasn’t anymore. She had discovered their bedroom empty, as well as the bathroom. “She was here,” she said tearfully.
“You must have dreamed it, ma’am. I’ve heard of that happening. Especially when the connection between two people is strong.”
“The car was lodged against a couple of trees. We think the force of the impact caused a branch to split off one of them and fall on top of the car. She was pinned behind the steering wheel and didn’t have a chance.”
“It was probably instantaneous. I doubt she knew what happened.”
“But she was here,” Diane murmured before collapsing onto the bed. “Baby?” she asked hopefully when she sensed familiar arms holding her. “I love you, too,” she responded to a whispered declaration.
The sheriff’s brow creased in question but he backed away, leaving the woman to grieve alone.
“Did you know?” Diane asked after the sheriff retreated.
“No. Not until he told you.”
“Then it’s true?”
Diane rolled over to face her wife. “Why? How?” she asked, cupping Carol’s face with a shaky hand.
“I don’t know.”
As Diane watched in horror, Carol began to fade from sight. “Baby? What’s happening?”
“They’re calling to me.”
“They say I have to go. I have to say goodbye.”
“I don’t think I can.”
“I don’t want to go.”
Her wife disappeared completely. “Carol, I love you. I need you,” she called out to the empty room. Fresh tears flooding her eyes as she clutched her wife’s pillow to her chest.
The sheriff and deputy left after Diane had answered all their questions and promised to make arrangements to have the body of her wife identified. With great difficulty, she’d finally convinced the men she would be alright staying in the house alone.
After watching the sheriff drive away, she closed the door and locked it. Slow footsteps, as heavy as the pain in her heart was deep, carried her back upstairs to the bedroom where she dropped onto the bed determined to cry until she had no more tears. Again clutching Carol’s pillow, she forced her eyes closed attempting to burn the memory of her wife’s face into her memory.
“Wouldn’t you rather be holding me?”
Diane’s eyes flew open as the softly spoken question registered on her stunned brain. “You’re back?” She asked the apparition lying on the bed next to her.
“For as long as you want me.”
Diane tossed the pillow aside, choosing instead to wrap her arms around her wife’s body and pull her into a crushing embrace. “Is this real? Are you real?” she asked as her hands explored the solid form of her wife.
“Yes. But only your belief in me makes this possible.”
“And if I don’t believe.”
“Then I will no longer exist.”
Diane looked into Carol’s eyes. “Then I hope you plan to be around a very long time because I will never stop believing in you.”
Carol smiled. “I was hoping you’d say that. Now go to sleep,” she said pulling the blankets over their joined bodies as her wife snuggled closer.
“Wait.” Diane pushed herself up to rest on an elbow. She stared intently down at her wife. “You will be here when I wake up,” she demanded.
Carol pulled her wife back down, wrapping her in her arms. “Yes.”
“I can’t lose you again,” Diane whispered, the words catching on the lump in her throat.
“You never will.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”