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Never comfortable driving at night, she lost control of her car on a dark, winding road. Were her worst fears to be realized?
Night driving made me nervous. I usually left it to my husband. Just before my sister’s anniversary party, though, Bob was called away by one of his parishioners. A pastor’s emergency. I couldn’t miss the party, so I took our 18-month-old granddaughter, whom we were babysitting, and went without him.
I’ll just make sure to leave while it’s still light out, I thought. But I lost track of time showing the baby off to everyone. Before I knew it, it was nine o’clock. I said goodbye, buckled my sleepy granddaughter into her car seat and took off.
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Willeo Road is notorious here for its tight curves, tracing the path of the Chattahoochee River. More than a few drivers have taken a turn too fast and met a tragic end in the water. But it was the shortest way home.
I kept my eyes on the winding road, my high beams barely penetrating the darkness. We’ll be home soon, I told myself, gripping the wheel.
There was a sharp bend ahead. I must have been going faster than I thought. The van slid, tires shuddering beneath me. I panicked and slammed on the brakes. The van fishtailed. I fought the wheel but it was no use. I’m going off the road...
“Oh God, help me!” I cried.
Oof. A jarring stop. The seatbelt dug into me. It took a minute to get my bearings. We’d hit an embankment. I stared at the thick tangle of trees hugging the edge of the road. If it wasn’t for that embankment, we would’ve crashed right into them.
I could see my granddaughter in the rearview mirror, still snug and secure. I took a deep breath, reversed and then eased back onto the road.
At home I told Bob what happened. He pulled me close. “Around nine I had this strong urge to pray for your safety,” he said. “Now I know why. ” The next day, we went back to Willeo Road. Bob was curious to see where he’d almost lost us.
“There!” I shouted. Our van’s skid marks were clearly visible, veering off toward the trees. Beyond them, now that it was daylight, I could see a steep drop... and the fast-flowing Chattahoochee. No embankment. Nothing to stop anyone from going over the edge.
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