changed his mind and come home, but no one was there, and the broken
door remained closed. I headed upstairs to rouse my son.
As we left for town, I braked hard on the hill that drops into the valley below our farm, just in time for a group of wild turkeys to cross the
road in front of us. I waited and switched on the radio.
A fatal accident occurred this morning around 6: 20 and shut down the
Hastings bridge in both directions. Authorities hope to have it reopened in
the next couple of hours. In financial news the rate of foreclosures continues to increase—
Without thinking, I did the math. There were two different routes
my husband could have taken to work that morning. One was under
construction, and the other was that bridge. Every military wife knows
how to do this type of math. My hands started to shake. I honked the
horn at the slow birds bringing up the rear, and my son startled in his
seat behind me. “I’m sorry,” I said to him. “I’m sorry.”
On impulse I chose a shortcut to town that was a minimum-maintenance
road. I hadn’t used it in two years and bit my lip and hoped the spring
thaw hadn’t made it difficult to navigate. After a one-lane bridge, tight,
steep curves with an uphill on one side and a deep-cut ravine on the
other showed signs of washout. Ragged root systems protruded from the
tumbled rockside, and worrisome chunks of earth had broken from the
ledge and fallen into the ravine below. A green canopy of untrimmed
branches arched low overhead and blocked out the clear morning sky.
I took it forty feet at a time, craning my neck around every curve while
keeping an eye on that ledge. The truck’s engine dug in against the grade,
and we climbed.
Suddenly a low-slung branch heaved toward the windshield and
I slammed the brake, and giant black wings raised up in front of me.
A vulture—a big bastard—labored against its own heft and lifted,
pushing itself through the thick canopy overhead.
I did the math again.
I walked my son into his preschool class and left my husband voicemails with forced vocal inflections that made me sound casual. I ran
errands and chatted with people in store aisles. Chunky peanut butter or
creamy? Call the local hospital or the one in the town where the accident
had occurred? I took a brisk walk around a city park. I imagined the