Home > A Curve in the Road(2)

A Curve in the Road(2)
Author: Julianne MacLean

“Winston!” I shout. “Winston!”

I can’t make out anything in the darkness, and I worry that he’s injured or dead, lying somewhere outside the vehicle. I fight wildly to free myself, but it’s hopeless.

I reach frantically to find my purse on the seat beside me to locate my cell phone and call for help, but the seat is empty. Everything’s flown out the windows.

Then I hear sirens in the distance, and I exhale sharply with relief. Thank heavens. Help is on the way.

I let my head fall back on the headrest and try to calm my racing heart.

If only I had my phone to call Alan. It’s all I can think about as I wipe blood from my forehead. Alan, I just want to hear your voice . . . to hear you tell me that everything’s going to be okay . . .


“Try and stay calm,” a young firefighter says as he removes a glove and takes hold of my hand through the driver’s-side window. It has no glass left in it. “We’re gonna get you out of here. What’s your name?”

“Abbie. Abbie MacIntyre.”

“Hi, Abbie,” he says. “I’m Troy. Everything’s going to be fine now.”

“Have you seen my dog?” I ask. “He was with me in the car, but he must have been thrown out the back window.”

“What kind of dog is he?”

“A golden retriever. His name is Winston.”

“As in Churchill?”


Troy directs one of the other first responders to use his walkie-talkie to report my missing dog and search the area.

I hear the wail of more sirens and vehicles arriving—fire trucks and cop cars and ambulances. Colored lights flash up on the highway, but they’re swallowed by the fog.

I shake my head, fearing I might be sick. “I don’t feel so good.”

“No wonder. You just took a nasty tumble, but don’t worry. You have a whole team coming to help you.”

Two other firefighters do a 360 around the vehicle, shining flashlights everywhere. I watch the beams sweep across the dark ravine. One of them speaks on a walkie-talkie to someone above us. I can make out his words that the patient appears to be stable.

It takes me a few seconds to realize that he’s talking about me. I’m the patient.

“If I could just get my legs free,” I say with a grunt, fighting to move them, but it’s hopeless, and any movement makes my head hurt.

Troy pats my forearm. “Don’t strain yourself. Just relax, and leave it to us to get you out. We have all the right tools. It’ll just take a few minutes to get the equipment down here.”

I nod my head. “Can someone please call my husband? I don’t know where my phone is.”

“Sure thing. What’s his name?”


Troy whistles and waves to the police officer who is skidding down the steep embankment. “Can you call Abbie’s husband?”

The cop arrives and peers in at me. “How are you doing in there, ma’am?”

“I’m okay. Just pretty shaken up, and I can’t move my legs.” I don’t know why I’m telling him I’m okay when I’m nothing of the sort. “Can you please call my husband?”

“Absolutely.” He pulls out a cell phone and dials the number as I recite it. I watch as he waits for a reply, then shakes his head. “There’s no answer. Should I leave a message?”

“Yes,” I say without hesitation, frustrated that Alan isn’t answering his phone when I need him most.

The officer reports that I’ve been in an accident and will be taken to the Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg, only five minutes away.

“I’ll try again in a few minutes,” the cop reassures me.

I thank him, then realize I’m shivering uncontrollably. I focus hard and try to relax my body, but not even my most determined force of will can stop the shaking.

“Just try and stay calm,” Troy says. “You’re in good hands, and we’ll have you out of there before you know it. Here come the firefighters now.”

I nod and try to be patient, wishing this nightmare would hurry up and end.

A team of five firefighters arrives with heavy equipment, which they set down around my SUV. This includes a noisy generator, a giant steel cutter, and a powerful spreader.

I turn to Troy, who is still at my side. He looks so young—not much older than my son.

“Any sign of my dog yet?” I ask.

Troy turns toward the cluster of flashing lights and emergency vehicles on the road above. “I don’t think so.”

“Can you please find out?” One of the other firefighters is letting the air out of my tires and placing blocks under the wheels to stabilize the car. “I’m worried about him, and I don’t want to leave him behind.”

Still holding my hand, Troy calls out to the cop who stands at the base of the embankment, talking on his phone. “Hey, Bob! Can you check on Abbie’s dog? He’s a golden retriever, and he was thrown from the vehicle. His name is Winston, and he probably hasn’t gone far.”

With every passing second, I grow increasingly worried, because Winston is very attached to me and extremely protective. If he ran off, he must have been terrified or in shock.

The cop trudges up the hill, and I try to be brave while Troy tells me he’s going to cover me with a tarp.

“They’re going to use the Jaws of Life to cut the car apart and lift the dash upward to free your legs,” he explains. “This tarp will shield you from bits of flying glass and metal.”

I agree because I want more than anything to remain calm, but I’m terrified, and he knows it.

“I’ll be right here the whole time,” Troy says as he covers me, then moves out of the team’s way.

The noise of the cutter is deafening. All I hear is the roar of machines, the crunching of metal, the shattering of glass. I’m afraid it’s all going to collapse on top of me, but the feel of Troy’s hand squeezing my shoulder and the sound of his voice in my ear, explaining everything along the way, helps me stay grounded.

“They’re making a series of relief cuts in the frame,” he explains. “I know it’s loud . . .”

My stomach turns over as I recall the horror of the crash and the rapid, tumbling descent.

This was my second brush with death. The first occurred seventeen years ago when I gave birth to Zack and nearly bled out in the delivery room. Since then, I’d always considered myself fortunate to be alive. Now I’m starting to wonder if the grim reaper has a mark out on me.

“Okay . . . ,” Troy says when the cutter shuts off, “you’re doing great, Abbie. Now they’re going to use a spreader to lift the dash, which should ease the pressure on your legs. Just hang in there. We’re almost done.”

I try not to think about the potential damage to my legs. It’s not easy to assume everything will be fine. I’m a surgeon. I know there are certain things that simply can’t be fixed.

Instead, I focus my thoughts on Alan and pray that he’s gotten the message by now, and I think of Zack at the rink. He has no idea that his mother is trapped in a car at the bottom of a ravine.

The spreader begins to slowly lift the dash, and I feel a weight come off my legs. Suddenly, my thighs ache with a bone-deep pain, but at least I can wiggle my toes. A good sign.

As soon as there’s an opportunity, I reach down to run my hands over my knees and calves. My jeans are ripped, and there are a few surface abrasions, but I’m able to unbend my legs at the knee joints.

Another good sign.

Troy removes the tarp, but I barely have time to look down and get a visual on my legs before a brace is fastened around my neck and I’m being lifted out of the vehicle and onto a backboard laid on a gurney. All of this is carried out by two paramedics, one male and one female, who must have scrambled down the slope with their equipment while the firefighters were cutting my vehicle apart.

“I’m a doctor,” I tell them. “What are your names?”

“I’m Carrie, and this is Bubba.”

I can’t move my neck, but I can shift my gaze to Bubba, who looks like a bouncer with a brush cut. The name suits him.

Carrie, on the other hand, is a pretty, petite blonde who appears extremely focused and capable as she wraps a blood pressure cuff around my arm. I give her a few seconds to read the dial and release the air in the cuff.

“What’s my BP?” I ask.

“It’s excellent. One twenty-six over eighty-five.”

“That’s a bit high for me, but given the situation, I’ll take it.”

Others gather around to transport me up the hill.

“How’s your pain?” she asks.

“Manageable. My legs are sore, and these abrasions on my face are stinging a bit, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.”

I’m aware of Troy still at my side, helping the paramedics carry me up the steep slope, which is no easy task because the rocks and debris are unsteady.

As luck would have it, it begins to rain. Soon enough, I’m feeling ice pellets on my cheeks, and I’m forced to close my eyes.

A moment later, we are cresting the top of the embankment and are back up on the road. The gurney wheels touch down.

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