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A Change of Plans

To break up the drive home the next day, she decided to get on the road that night. The plan made sense. Like her, her husband was finishing up a weekend of comedy shows in the midwest, and she could stay with him at his hotel, down the road, in Illinois. In the morning, they'd wake up, grab breakfast, and then go home to Nashville. He agreed to her plan, telling her he would wait up for her.

After her show in Iowa, she put on her winter coat, it was grey with fake fur on the hood to shield the wind. She went outside to her car and shaking off the cold, she turned the key in the ignition. Her car grumbled and wheezed to silence.  She spun the key again, but still nothing. Instinctually, she called her husband, and as he always did, he calmed her down and fixed the problem, coaching her to put her foot on the break and slowly turn the key. Her car sprang to life. As a precaution, she let her car warm up before she pulled out of the lot. 

She pulled up to his Best Western Hotel as he greeted her outside. He always met her when she arrived late at night, a protective measure he adopted after they moved into an apartment and one of their neighbors was carjacked. They learned that at home or on the road, one must always be vigilant. Going inside, he took her red travel bag from the trunk and escorted her up to his room. 

Revved up from shows and coffee, she tried to stay up and talk, but he wanted to go to sleep so he could get up early. She relented, after all, it was late, and they both needed rest for the long drive home. He turned off the light, arm-locked his wife's body around him, and lay them down to sleep for the night.

As promised, he rose before her, and while he was showering, he got an idea. Remembering her car problem the night before, he would check her car before he left the hotel. She was still in bed when he grabbed her car keys, went to her car, turned the ignition. The car started. Relieved, he went inside and saying goodbye, let her know her car was working despite the cold. How considerate of him, she thought. It made her feel like he really loved her, not that she doubted it; it was just comforting to have unsolicited proof so early in the morning. 

She woke up alone in the hotel room when, still adjusting to the day, she remembered her husband checked her car. She felt around for her phone and called him. He answered in a good mood, and as they exchanged sweet salutations she asked, “Where did you put my car keys?" Not looking for them, just out of curiosity she asked the question. Driving his car, he dipped his hand into his jacket and felt the jagged edges of his wife's car keys in his pocket.  "Oh no. " he gasped. They paused. He had no choice but to turn his car around and bring back her keys so she could drive her car.

He drove, and she waited for him to return and was waiting outside when he pulled up to the hotel two hours later. He apologized, and she said no, it was all her idea, meddling with travel plans. With no one to blame and no one innocent, this was something they would laugh at later, and they got in their separate cars, bound for home. 

The drive home was wide open blue skies, and frost bristled farm fields, it was the center of the country heading south, sparse yet rich in land. She stopped a few times for gas, and because of the late start, the drive dragged on into the night. Her husband called her after the sunset, checking in on her, and they talked for a few minutes about how boring the drive was.  

Listening to podcasts, she was forty minutes behind her husband on the road, when a flash of events unfolded. Traveling down the dark highway, suddenly on the road in front of her stood a deer. She slammed the breaks and hoped the animal would walk out of the way, but it just froze in the middle of the lane making it impossible not to hit.  She drove straight into it, and the deer flew over her car as she kept driving down the road. She took the next exit off the interstate, got out and looked at her car. Though the headlights were untouched, the light they emitted illuminated the damage to the vehicle, the hood was smashed in, the radiator was busted and dripping fluid. Smoke bloomed out of the front of the car like it just came out of a microwave.  Her first thought was to call her husband, and thankfully, he answered right away. Calming her down, her husband kept her focused and told her to get her insurance information ready. Beside her disfigured car, she sent him the google pin of the hotel she was standing in front of and for the second time in one day, he turned his car around and traveled back to his wife. 

She was talking to the police officer in the parking lot when he pulled up to the hotel. After the cop left, the couple made a plan. They abandoned her beat-up car at the hotel, got in his car, and finished the long drive home together.

Comments

  1. Glad you are okay. Sounds like a long and exhausting day.

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  2. Really enjoyed this harrowing account, Hannah! Having someone you can rely on means everything. Can't wait to see you perform in Cary, NC on Jan. 12! Tell Dusty we would welcome him back any time - his set here last year was the best!

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