Stepping outside I hold my cell phone up in the air, as if the extra 18 inches will suddenly allow it to connect. Nothing. The dirt road ends at the cabin, making it more private than the ones further down the hill. Briefly I debate whether to walk. I can’t have lost service far from here, yet driving somehow feels safer, like my Honda Pilot will somehow protect me.
Still cautious but intent on reaching Jeff for help, I lock the deadbolt behind me. I pause at the top of the stairs leading down from the front porch, listening, watching. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary I scurry over to my car, using the key fob to unlock the door just before I reach for the handle, then slide into the driver’s seat.
I back into the turn around and point the car down the narrow path, holding the phone with my right hand in front of me so I can see when service is restored. My attention thus occupied I almost fail to see the fallen tree blocking the way as I turn a corner. With a cloud of dust the vehicle comes to rest with a jolt.
What the hell? Now what?
Glancing at the still useless phone I want to scream, or cry. Instead I pound the steering wheel until the pain in my clenched fists replaces the fear in my chest. I can handle this. It’s just a tree. There has to be a way around it.
Leaving the security of the car, I step into sunshine tinged green by the overhanging leaves. The feeling is eerie and I begin to wish I had chosen to flee to somewhere else, realizing with a sense of panic how vulnerable I am. I tuck my phone into the back pocket of my jeans to free my hands and walk purposefully toward the tree.
Focus. Solve the problem. Save the worry for later and figure out how to get around this.
Calmer, I examine the top of the tree. The highest branches just barely pass the right edge of the road, dangling over a steep slope. I wonder if I could simply drive over it, if the Pilot would be able to crush these smaller, thinner branches. I would have to be careful not to let the passenger side tires get caught in the ditch.
Still considering my options I hear a twig snap somewhere. I freeze, trying to determine where the sound came from. A rustle of leaves sends enough adrenaline through my veins to make me dizzy. The hair on my arms stand at attention, all my senses on high alert.
What are the odds that a tree would happen to fall right here? How likely is it that it would block the entire road? Am I being paranoid, or could this be a nefarious plan to leave me exposed here, alone in the woods, unprotected?
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Nefarious and is part of something longer I am working on.