When courting death becomes a foolish game
June 14, 2012
by Trish Hall

An introduction - This piece was written in 1990 when Hall was 20 years old. The author writes that she doesn't know why she is suddenly sharing it but that "it needs to see the light of day." She hopes it will touch someone and give them hope.

As the sun was beginning to drop from a purple sky, I took a gamble that I had no right to take. In fact, I should never have played the game.

I had just finished my five-hour shift at work. I was gathering my backpack and purse to leave, when a friend stopped by work to convey a message to me. His words were so cold that they pierced into my flesh and left me trembling. What he said to me rang through my ears like an alarm. I felt weak, as I stumbled out to my car.

With clumsy fingers, I unlocked the car door and sank into the seat. I looked to the sky and closed my eyes as the adrenaline in my body crashed through me like a wave breaking on the shore. In my mind, the cards had been dealt and it was time to lay my chips on the table.

I started my car as tears burned in streaks down my cheeks. I drove away thinking that I may have just finished my last shift ever at the little shop in Blacksburg, Virginia. Many things had happened to me over the past few months and I felt that I could not handle any more. I believed the message that I had just received had finally broken me. I was angry and upset and someone was going to pay.

The next thing I knew, I was flying past my house and turning onto Ellett Road, where I knew the path would be a challenge to maneuver in my present emotional state. I grabbed the heaviest, hardest music I had in my car and slammed it into the cassette player. I cranked up the volume and took a breath.

I felt the music intoxicate me and my vision became blurry. The bass from the guitar became the beating of my heart and I threw my car into the curves of the valley. I couldn't think. I didn't want to. The pain was too great. I just wanted revenge and I wanted to feel the speed.

Briefly, I wondered how I would stop, if a car or a deer ran into the road. I tossed the thought out of my head and convinced myself that no animals would come into my path. This was strictly between my destiny and me. I clutched onto the wheel so firmly that my knuckles were white. My body was so rigid that I lost all physical sensation.

Mentally, I was bold. I came around the first curve and glanced at the bright, yellow sign that read "maximum safe speed 20 m.p.h." An evil laugh erupted from deep inside of me, as I realized that my speedometer read eighty. The speed did not scare me. It only made the game that I was playing that much more real.

The tires screamed, vainly trying to grip at the road, as I thrust my car around the next few curves. I felt the terrain wind deeper and deeper into the pit of the valley. The world was black, except for the thin beams of light illuminating from my car.

I sang. As tears etched ravines into the sides of my face and my heart felt as though it could not beat any longer or harder, I sang along with the tune coming from the tape. The gamble that I was taking became a personal challenge to God. I decided that if it was His will, He could take me, right then and there. If He wanted me, so be it.

It was at that moment the God grew weary of my little game. He had watched me risk my safety on that long and curvy road. Now, He wanted me to realize my foolishness.

I hammered into the next curve. My wheels slid sideways. In an attempt to stay on the road, I yanked at the wheel and tried to steer back into my lane. The back end of my car whipped around and slammed into an embankment. I could not hear anything, except my heartbeat thundering into my ears.

Again, in an attempt to right myself, I yanked at the wheel. This time, as my car spun around, my eyes fell on what was on the opposite side of the road...a cliff. There were no guard rails.

I was terrified. Suddenly, I knew in my heart that I wanted to live. I did not want to play any more games. I wanted to go home in one piece. I wanted to see the sun rise the next day. I wanted so badly for this to be over. I pleaded with God to save me. I begged him to forgive me for questioning His control over my life.

He was listening to me and He saved me. The right rear wheel of my little red car popped off of the metal rim and my car slowed. With His help, I was able to direct it off of the road and onto the shoulder.

My heart roared in my chest for several minutes. I could not move. I could not let go of the wheel. I could only stare out of the window into the inky sky. I felt numb and cold.

Finally, the music became audible again. It seemed to pump life back through my body. Ever so slowly, I could breathe and think and feel again. I let go of the wheel and my arms dropped into my lap.

I realized, at that moment, I had not been wearing my seat belt through any of this foolishness. I could easily attribute my survival to dumb luck, but I know better. My life had been spared. My survival was His doing. God saved me. I felt a sudden wave of emotion wash over me and I cried.

I reached for the key and turned off the car. I opened the door and stepped out into the night and thanked God for letting me live.

Trish Hall, a former resident of Joplin, is a free-lance writer, single mom of two living in southwest Virginia. A graduate of Radford University (Virginia), she has a degree in journalism. She is looking forward to the publication of two novels.

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