BARE WHITE LEGS ON COLD WINTER EARTH
by Eileen Albrizio
(A short-short story from The Box Under the Bed)
She was driving, making up time on the Mass Pike. They were heading to her parents’ house in Newton—maybe it was Shrewsbury. She was chattering on about something. He tuned her out. Or he was at the wheel, laughing at her jokes, playing with the radio. They were going to his sister’s in Bedford. The children were bickering in the back seat. A boy, ten, and a girl, twelve. Their SUV had a TV in the rear. The son, possibly older, had an iPad, was playing video games. The younger daughter quietly watched a movie. Might have been they weren’t rich, didn’t have the trappings. So they bided their time singing medleys the way families did before satellite radio.
Oh my Darling, Oh my Darling, Oh my Darling Clementine—I want a girl just like the girl who married dear old dad.
Perhaps it was just the two of them, only wed a year. He had a few drinks before hitting the road. She told him not to drive. He said he was fine. They were arguing when he changed lanes. He was yelling at her when he swerved. Could have been they weren’t arguing, but enjoying the ride as she drove on that crisp, clear afternoon. It was another driver, drunk, who clipped them while passing. Sent their SUV off the road. She overcompensated, struck the guardrail. The SUV went airborne. And there were children, and they were screaming when it hit the ground, flipped again. Crashed and burst into flames. The children were trapped. Parents unconscious. Pray there were no children. They were staying at their grandparents. It was conceivable the children were only a plan—for someday.
Fireman put out the blaze. Pulled the man and woman from the vehicle. Their clothes were smoldering. EMTs cut off their pants, pulled off their shoes. Laid their bodies on the median. No hurry putting them in the ambulance. A white sheet draped over their heads, down to their thighs.
We drove past them on that Christmas day. You said, Don’t look. I looked. Saw the burnt-out vehicle on its head. And the bodies on the ground. Dear God. What went wrong to stretch those bare white legs out onto the cold, dead earth?
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