back on the drinking. Dr. Bates flipped open the thick folder
on his lap and scribbled in what looked like Arabic. And
stress, he added.
Cut back, right? Just checking.
I can do that, I thought. I pushed open the heavy glass door and
stepped out into a sweltering July afternoon. But one thing at
a time. Itll be stressful to stop drinking; better leave
that one for last. Id work on the stress first. I decided
to take a drive down to Rockcastle County and explore Lake Linville,
which Id seen in my travel brochures. I got in the car,
fired up the a/c, and switched the radio on.
with a heat index of 105 degrees, so stay indoors
if you can. I switched it off and pushed in a CD instead.
The Eagles kept me company for the thirty-minute drive south through
the rolling mountains of my new home in south-central Kentucky.
I found the lake, and it was gorgeous. Reminded me of Greenwood
Lake in New York, not far from where I sold my home last year.
With thick woods growing right up to the shore, the lake was enormous
and beautiful. It twisted and wandered here and there like a series
of lakes, rather than just one. I drove around it for a while
enjoying the view and the empty road, then finally decided to
pull over to sit in the shade and contemplate. A little dirt path
snaked down off the road and had a sprawling tree with plenty
of deep shade just beside the water. The entrance looked very
steep, so I passed it by, then happily found another way in.
I reclined the car seat and sat there by the water for more than
an hour, writing and thinking. It was lovely to sit and watch
the ripples moving toward me when the catfish jumped, and feel
the cool breeze blowing through the car windows. Wonderful to
feel the stress lifting off me. I felt as light as the butterflies
along the bank. I hated to move on, but I had other plans for
the day, so I finally put my pad away and turned on the car.
Instead of backing up to get out the way I came, I decided to
follow the path along the water and get out the way I declined
to come in. Probably wouldn't be too bad getting out, I thought.
I put the car in gear and rolled along the rough path, dipping
into ruts, bouncing over roots, and weaving to avoid tree stumps
along the skinny dirt trail. I came to a wide pool of water in
the path and took a chance that it wasnt any deeper than
it looked. I didnt want to have to back up. Luck was with
me, as the water covered a rut, and not a well.
Then the path curved sharply and went up the steep hill to the
road. I stopped to consider the incline. It looked pretty steep,
but there were other tire tracks, indicating that others had made
it out alive. I decided to make a run for it and get up and over
onto the pavement in one smooth arc. I stomped hard on the gas
and felt the car pick up speed as I got close to the top. Dirt
flew in every direction, making me wonder if I had misjudged the
little hill. The front tires got up onto the pavement. Well, the
left front tire did; I heard the right front tire spinning free
in the air, making a desperate whirring sound as it fought for
ground. Then the car fell back on the frame and made a nasty grinding
sound as it hit. I was hanging nearly vertically in the air, looking
straight up into sky. I felt like I was clinging to the edge of
a cloud, and I wasnt enjoying it. My heart was pounding,
For a split second I pictured what would happen if I got the car
hung up and couldnt get it free. Id have to flag down
some farmer in a pickup and ask for help. When he stopped laughing
hed probably get all his friends over to have a look so
they could all have a good laugh. I threw the car into reverse
and jumped to Plan Bget out of there before the car gets
stuck. With the traction from the one tire that was on the road,
the car pushed back and I started to fly down the hill backwards.
It was so steep I couldnt tell where I was going. I locked
onto my memory of driving up, which was, after all, only a few
seconds old, and literally reversed myself.
Down the hill I flew, as fast as I could to avoid getting hung
up anywhere, desperately trying to outrun Murphy and his driving
Laws. I surprised myself by navigating the sharp turn without
falling into the lake. Then back through the thin dirt path without
blowing out any tires on the tree stumps, and wiggled through
the deep, water-filled rut. A moment later I was back to where
I was having a peaceful sit in the shade.
I didnt stop, though I felt like I needed a nap by then.
From there I backed up on the grass as close to the lake as I
dared, turned around, and managed to pull back up onto the road
with a minimum of tires squealing and rocks flying. As I drove
back around the lake again, my adrenalin pumping, I could almost
hear my hair falling out. While I was writing, a big spider had
come into the car and I wasnt able to catch him to get him
out. I waited for the thing to start crawling up my ankle as I
drove, but he must have jumped out when he saw me drive up the
hill and get the car stuck. Good. One less thing, right? So I
guess I got the stress under control. All I needed next was a
Owens is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, plays and personal
histories. She studies poetry writing with Pulitzer Prize nominated
poet Sidney Saylor Farr, is a member of the Kentucky State Poetry
Society, the Appalachian Writers Association, The Kentucky Womens
Playwright Seminar, and the New Opportunity School for Women Writers.
She has been published in The Write Side Up, The Appalachian Womens
Journal, and Its a Wonderful Town. Her short play Shoes
had its first public reading in Berea, KY.