Frozen Moment by Cindy Skaggs
The stag stepped from the fog like a rabbit from the magician’s hat. It was a black-and-white picture, a frozen moment, immortal as his body stepped onto the highway silhouetted against the white fog in my headlights. His rack as tall as my Explorer, he stopped and glanced to the side as if to reprimand me. The antlers were frosted white like a crown glimmering in the artificial light. I braked. He stopped. We stared at one another for seconds, surely less than a minute, then he bounded back from whence he’d come, and I continued east. Forewarned. The snow started some time later with me riding the curves of hills I didn’t know existed in eastern Colorado. It was pretty at first, the kind of white fluff that shimmers in snow globes and Hollywood movies. The ground was warm, melting the snow, so I didn’t worry overmuch. It was just a little snow. The little snow gave way to big and the wind blew like a witch. I wanted to berate myself for paying so little attention to the news. God knows the Armageddon weathermen had probably been preaching their doomsday prophecy for days, but I’d been lost in a fog of fear, alone for the first time in a decade and unprepared. The kids are with their father. Unsupervised for the first time. Christmas and fear all wrapped in a shiny bow. Time was indeed relative that interminable week. I couldn’t say if it was Friday or Monday. I only knew that I had to make Kansas City if I was going to pick up the kids on time, and I would damn well pick up the kids on time. So when the snow started, I patted the dash of my trusty 4WD and pressed on. I grew up in Colorado. I knew how to drive in snow. And like that, I dismissed the worry that never fully formed until I hit the middle of Kansas—God I hate Kansas—in the middle of a whiteout for which I was not prepared. I didn’t have emergency gear. If I was lucky, I had gloves and a hat. Anything more was overkill. When I merged onto I-70, I followed the taillights of an 18-wheeler for miles, so close that if he drove into the nearest cornfield, I would plow in right behind him. We continued like that, my headlights barely keeping up with the red of his tail, just
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