Head on Collision

Posted on March 15, 2014 under Storytelling with one comment

Head on Collision


It was the trip home from hell.

He has finished three very trying weeks at a work site north of Fort Mac.  For twenty one days in a row, he had worked twelve hour shifts.  The polar vortex was ever present, with temperatures dipping into the minus forty degree range.  He was working outdoors where he could watch with fascination as his breath crystallized in front of him.  He missed his wife and children.  And on top of all this, his boss was a first rate arsehole.

The first leg of his trip to Edmonton was uneventful, a blessing, as he was fatigued from the gruelling work schedule.  The trip from Edmonton to Toronto was delayed, which wasn’t unusual in the winter.

He finally boarded the flight and settled in for a well-deserved sleep on the three hour flight.  He had chosen an aisle seat so that he could stretch out his legs.  The passenger in the middle seat was friendly, even jovial.  They struck up a casual conversation which turned into three hours of complete aggravation.  His fellow passenger wouldn’t shut up.  And even when he put on his black eye mask (a subtle clue that sleep was desired), the man beside him continued to natter on to the passenger in the window seat.

I will spare you the details of the next thirty six hours he spent at Pearson, waiting out a couple of storms.  He arrived at the airport in Halifax at 5:00 a.m. and was brought to the Park ‘N Fly to retrieve his vehicle.  It was covered in three inches of ice.  Nearly delirious with fatigue he chipped away and, large double-double in hand, he was finally homeward bound.

He knew his wife would be on the go this Saturday morning with three children under the age of eight.  The seven year old had hockey, the five year old had creative dance and the three year old blessedly had no structured activity.  He called before leaving the airport and was surprised when no answer was forthcoming.

Even though the drill was well rehearsed, being left alone with three young children never got any easier with the passage of time.  Thankfully her mother would be around for the first three days which gave her some precious time for herself.  The grandchildren worshipped their Nana, and so did she when she got these brief bouts of respite.

The first snowstorm presented no major obstacles.  She managed to shovel herself out and find a sitter on short notice when she heard of the school cancellation on the radio.  Two days later, she got to do this all over again.  Well into the third week of her husband’s absence, her exasperation was beginning to show.  She was tired of shovelling, tired of making child care arrangements and tired of work.

She was nearly at the point of despair when she received the calls from her husband, as delay piled on delay.  But finally, she got the call that his flight was leaving Pearson.

This was around the same time that the youngest developed an inner ear infection.  The remedy came after a five hour visit to the outpatients department. Talk about being out of patience.  She stopped at the pharmacy to fill the prescription and headed home to put the others to bed.

It took a while for the antibiotics to kick in and, as a result, the baby was up most of the night.  She had forgotten to replace the phone in the charger before going to bed, and by early morning it was dead.

He pulled into the driveway, grabbed his duffle bag and approached the front door.  Near exhaustion, he could almost feel the warmth of the comforter on the bed, embracing him.

She heard the car in the driveway.  She approached the front door with the youngest in her arms. Near exhaustion, she could almost feel the warmth of the comforter on the bed, embracing her.

He opened the front door.  His wife was there holding the baby at eye level. “Take this child”.

It had all the makings of a Mexican standoff.  It was an accident waiting to happen.  He was witnessing a head on collision.  And then the phone rang.

It was her mother and she was passing through town and had some time to spare before she went on to the city.  Would it be alright if she dropped in?

The children had rarely seen their parents cry.  They had never shown emotion before when Nana came to visit.  She made her grand entrance as the children’s parents headed upstairs to get some desperately needed sleep.  As they curled up under an electric blanket, they could hear the sweet sounds of a soft lullaby coming from the living room.


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