“Oh” I said as I stepped out of the Cedar Glen Laundromat. The fog was creeping past the trees and shops, through the parking lot, pressing its nose to the windows. It had slunk in quietly, like a tardy student, while our backs were turned folding towels and loading dryers. I stuffed my daughters into the truck, paralyzed in their seats under piles of clean blankets and precariously stacked baskets. We began the slow crawl, out to the road, toward the edge of the mountain. Never before had I considered this vehicle as a cage of steel. I drove blind, slowing down until we were inching along. I didn’t realize we were still moving until I pushed my foot harder down on the brake. My instinct was to hunker down, stay silent and hidden. Safer to be still rather than barreling into a car, or tree. The thick white out the window surrounded us until we felt the universe shrink to the cab of the truck. We were all that existed. Unable to see the world outside, it was difficult to even imagine and I told myself it was all still there, waiting for us to navigate our way through. “Ok” I whispered and willed myself to press my foot to the gas and continue. At the stop sign before the right turn onto Highway 18, I peered straight ahead, imagining the drop before us, creeping slowly into the road. See me, See me, See me. I muttered these words aloud, my hand hovering over the horn, not wanting to startle the Honda that was headed straight toward my side of the truck, but wanting to give a warning in case it did not veer. It also was creeping along and spotted us in time to steer clear. I hugged the right side of the road, closest to the mountain. We had lost the yellow, lost the white, driving not by memory or instinct. “There’s Rim.” My daughter’s tiny voice came from the backseat. The expansive parking lot of the high school to the right gave us a land mark and for those few seconds we breathed. Always, always was the emptiness to our left, the fog tricking us, pulling the truck closer to the edge. I made no deals with higher powers. I sent no frantic prayers for our safe return. I did not want to take my focus, even in the depths of my soul, from the shrouded road. In the silence of our box, we were connected, my girls and I. Each one focused on the gloom surrounding us. Strangely still for the adrenalin pounding through our veins. Without speaking our wills reached out to each other, bound by fear in an intimacy that we would rarely know in their teenage years to come.
s. Nicholas lives and teaches in the San Bernardino mountains. Nicholas was born and raised in the Inland Empire and finds that it is a source of continual inspiration for her. She is currently in the MFA program at Cal State San Bernardino and will be graduating in June.