‘Oh my God. Please… NO!!! God, please don’t so this to me… Please!! Why??? WHY ME???? NO!!!!!!!!’ Thirty-something Karen Fletcher cries into her drenched palms. Her husband puts his arm around her, gently sobbing himself. A gust of icy wind blows past them, causing Jacob, the husband, to take out his coat and wrap it around his wife. Karen feels a tear trickle down her cheek. She swiftly mops it up with one finger.
They are plonked on the sidewalk, weeping uncontrollably. Pedestrians snicker viciously, but don’t allow themselves a second glance at the unruly sight of a couple clinching each other in the moonlight, tears of sorrow streaming down their flaxen faces. Jacob withdraws his arm and swears violently. Just as the cure leaves his mouth, Karen shakes her head and stammers, ‘It’s all my fault… I should have made you pay attention to the road…’ ‘It should be blamed on me. I was the one driving,’ Jacob reasons. A thousand thoughts flutter through Karen’s mind. The day had been tragic, but it had started like any other, thought Karen, beginning to day dream.
It had started with Karen packing her briefcase while simultaneously making an appointment with a nanny for her one year old infant, Flora. Jacob had descended the stairs while Karen ignited the stove. He was decked out in a formal suit and polished leather shoes. He pecked his Karen o both cheeks and seated himself at the round dining table adjusting his scarlet tie.
‘Honey,’ Karen began, smiling at little Jamie cuddled up in her crib, but directing her words to Jacob. ‘Your car has gone for services, remember?? So you’ll have to drop me off at my office,’ informed. ‘My pleasure, madame,’ Jacob replied, tucking into the blueberry pancake that Karen had laid down for him. She grinned at him before adding, ‘Oh, and we’ll have to leave Flora at the baby-sitters,’ she added. ‘The more the merrier,’ Jacob responded, sipping up a spoonful of sweet syrup.
In half an hour, Jacob was smoothly surfing through the rush-hour traffic in a way that mystified his spouse. Karen was humming a lullaby and Flora was beginning to feel a bit drowsy. After dropping their baby at the sitter’s place on Aiken Avenue, one of the busiest streets in Twigg County, Jacob left his wife in front of her agency, a glass building constructed over a sprawling three acre property the accommodated its share of belching fountains and manicured lawns. He reversed the silver automobile and accelerated at break-neck speed all the way to his office. The dashboard clock read 8:36 am just as he backed the sedan into the parking lot and exitted the car, folder in one hand, case in the other.
Eleven hours, three meetings and dozens of profit-and-loss charts later, a weary Jacob had trudged back to the grey van. He inserted an ABBA disc and drove off to pick up his family. At least, when the youngest member of the Fletcher family had been safely tucked into the carriage, Karen let out a sigh. She massaged her throbbing temple while scanning her emails on a newly purchased Blackberry Curve.
Karen is abruptly jerked out her flashback by her partner who squeezed her hand lovingly and whispers, ‘Its going to be all right, Karen.’ She hears a siren go on and off, indicating that either a ambulance, fire brigade or police van is close at hand. Karen let herself reminisce again, recalling the days events from where she left off.
Jacob sped the car along the highway, sharply swerving the car on the edges of the hair-pin bends. Karen didn’t notice that her man was speeding a little too fast. She didn’t see the massive pick-up truck heading their way. At the last moment, she looked up. The first thing she observed her husband gazing at her adoringly. She jolted her head in the direction of the windshield just in time to detect the lorry that was hurling their way. Her motherly instinct forced her reflexes to fling herself between the front seat and her child.
Miraculously, the couple emerged without a scratch. Unfortunately, that was a lot more than what could be said about Flora. As soon as Karen realized that she was alive, she yanked her stare to the back seat and was reduced to tears when she saw her child… the rest is best left unspoken.
Karen forces herself to return to the cold, harsh world. She is devastated about her loss, but she can’t help being a little glad about the fact that Jacob, at least, was safe. As if he’d heard her repeat his name in her mind, Jacob tugs her sleeve and gestures to the car wreck. Karen stands up, rubs her eyes and straightens her cranberry tee. They briskly march to the remains of their brand-new Ford. Man and wife peer down at the ruins and jump back in utter astonishment when the recognize the people they see perched on the front seat of their coupe…..
[The Next day…]
THE NEW YORK TIMES
At around seven yesterday evening, Karen and Jacob Fletcher were driving homeward with their little one, Flora Fletcher, when a rapid vehicle collided with their car. Karen and Jacob died instantly although the baby survived. contd. on pg. 3