The snow had been falling steadily for the past sixteen hours. Emma sat in the warm comfort of her living room sipping on a steaming cup of the strongest coffee that she could stand. Tonight was going to be a bitch, and no amount of wishful thinking was going to change that fact. Third shift as a triage nurse was always interesting to say the least and never a dull moment at Hemlock Hills Memorial Hospital. Doing the job was not the problem, Emma loved her job. No, the problem was her family. Her husband, Teddy, had taken their two boys, Alex and Kevin, out to visit their grandparents for the week. It had bothered Emma some that she had to work the day they left and would have to make the journey a day late. She had never been away from her boys for more than a day. She sipped her coffee again and glanced around the quiet empty house and could feel herself sink into loneliness.
Perhaps I should call, she thought as she glanced at the ivory clock face ticking away her free time with thin obsidian hands.
Nah, its getting late and, more than likely, everyone would be asleep now.
Outside the wind continued to howl. The thick sheets of snow swirled in the wind like dancing giants. To Emma, it was the perfect weather to curl up into a tight ball under warm, crisp sheets and sleep. Oh, how she wished she could just sleep now.
The minute hand inched closer and closer to 10 pm. Emma sighed and downed the last of the coffee in one giant gulp. A few warm drops rolled down the sides of her mouth as she stood up and gathered the rest of her things for work.
Maybe tonight will be busy and it will go by fast.
With that final thought she grabbed her thickest winter coat from the rack, snatched her purse from the kitchen table, and stepped into the cold winter night.
The blasting heater from the four wheel drive SUV was a welcome gift after trudging through the freezing 21 degree wind chill. Emma slowly crept back out of the driveway onto the main road. She shook her head and groaned as the back tires broke loose and spun. The road was always the last to see a state truck equipped with a scrape due to it being so far away from the main arteries leading to the city. She reached down and shifted into four wheel high, and proceeded down the long winding road.
She hated driving in the snow. Teddy, however, loved to trek out into the freshly fallen snow and find a nice spot away from traffic and slide, spin, and drift. Alex and Kevin loved it too; they would always come in and tell about their adventures with their dad up on the old Lowe logging road. Emma had went with them a few times but preferred to just leave it to the men to spend some time together. She liked the snow only while indoors.
There was never too much traffic on their road. Much of the snow was still untouched and the only tire tracks were heading the other direction.
It was another seven miles to the hospital and Emma crawled down the road. It was beginning to get on her nerves already. She had always been known to have a “lead foot” and had the traffic tickets to prove it. She fiddled with the radio hoping that some music would her make the trip a little more tolerable. Her favorite station was a wash of static so she turned the knob and scanned for anything that sounded good. She settled for a local rock station that was playing the top fifty songs of the year. The DJ rambled on and on about some new band that had, “exploded onto the charts and should be a force to be reckoned with.” She had heard the song before and thought it was just slightly above average, but still better than some of the drivel being put out by the “popular bands.”
She reached the first of three deep switchbacks. They were dangerous even on the most pristine conditions. She slowed down even more and eased around the hard curve. There were no other cars on the road so she swerved over to the left side of the road. It was better to hit the ditch on the wrong side than to slide down the sixty foot drop on the right side. Halfway through the turn the rear end slid slightly. Emma’s grip tightened around the steering wheel. She took a deep breath to steady herself and the vehicle, and proceeded to make the turn with no further incident. She let out a heavy breath of relief that fogged up the windshield for a second.
The song had changed to a much heavier, almost thrash-like, song. She tapped her fingers to the wheel to the beat of the furious drums.
The second switchback was just ahead and, already, Emma began to slow. There was a thick overhang of evergreen limbs which kept the snowfall on the road to a minimum.
Maybe the rest of the way will be smooth sailing. She thought. Soon her hopes were deflated as the sight of deep snow reappeared after the turn.