Route 187

She had grown accustomed to the routine. As Nina drove to the office, she thought about the usual things: traffic, the weather, her plans for the upcoming weekend, and how she would endure another day typing for the attorney.  Lost in the details of her well-worn existence, she hadn’t noticed that her rear view mirror had suddenly grown dark.

Shifting from her daydream to the circumstance at hand, she noticed that behind her trailed a van driven by hurried teenagers following only a few feet from her bumper. Not one to give in to intimidation from other drivers, or anyone else for that matter, she casually sang along to the Top 40 hit on the radio, ignoring the nuisance on her tail.  After all, she was doing the speed limit in the slow lane, and if the van wanted to pass, there was plenty of room to do so.  She kept singing and they kept tailgating.

The van quickly swerved into the left lane, picking up speed to pass.  Continuing to sing along with the music on the radio, she looked to the left at the speeding van as it gained momentum.  The boys looked to the right at her car as they passed, and saw the young woman’s lips moving quickly and rhythmically. They assumed that she was cursing them, but she was only singing.

The male passenger drew the handgun from his waist, aimed and fired at her. In a split second, her world exploded as the bullet shattered the window.  It tore into Nina’s left shoulder and through her chest, resting on the inside of her lung.  Her car swerved onto the dirt shoulder and came to a standstill between the trees.

As the boys sped away, turning their backs on the tragedy that had just unfolded, the last few breaths of life began to pass through Nina’s mangled lung. She felt the warmth of her blood as it trickled down her arm and chest.  As her lobe filled with fluid, she coughed and gasped. She was lucid enough to know that she only had a few breaths left. A flurry of thoughts ripped through her mind. She knew she didn’t want to die, but mostly she worried about how her family would handle the news, and she grieved for them.

Down to her last breath, she heard the sirens as she began to fade between the darkness and the light.  She felt her chest sink, but it did not inflate again. She struggled one last time to breathe and as she gasped for air, her body jerked beneath the sheets.

Written by Susan
Copyright 1998, All Rights Reserved