"John you need to pick up Henry and bring him to the dentist at 3:30, okay?" Nancy said over the phone. I slide my hand down my slightly sweaty face. "Can't you do it, I really need to call this important person and.." "No!" Nancy says in a firm voice, "I’m in a meeting right know, I shouldn't even be calling you." I sighed, "Come on Nancy, I have a lot of work to do and I don’t want to get behind." I knew I lost this argument. "John it will take less then 20 minutes, stop exaggerating like it's the worst thing ever. Look, I can't be in the bathroom forever, I've got to go." Nancy hung up.
I looked at my watch. it was already 2:45 I needed to go now. I went to check in with Synthia, the secretary. "I'll be back by 4:00, I just need to pick up Henry." She smiled, "You need to bring him more often, he reminds me of my grandson." Synthia doesn't look like a grandmother, she's in her late 40's, her short brown hair has only grayed a little near the ends and she has very few wrinkles." Sarah, one of my co-workers, told me that her daughter got pregnant at 19, which would explain why Synthia looks younger.
I started heading out the front door while putting on my jacket. The winter weather hits my face. My nose gets instantly cold, my nostrils feel like there breathing in icicles. I walk to my car as fast as I can while trying not to slip on the black ice that hides underneath the snow like how bats hide in caves until they fly out, only to surprise you.
Everyone seems to be going some where today. Main Street is packed, busy shoppers, teenagers getting back from school and guys playing guitars for some extra money. I turn up the radio as I wait for the light to turn green. It's tuned to some dance music from the 80's. I love 80's dance music, it gets me bobbing my head in my car, at least when I am alone. The lights take forever to turn green, but when they finally do I hit the accelerator and take off.
I park near the entrance of the school. From my view, the school looks like it’s some kind of private school, but I can assure you, the staff definitely feels like an inner city public school. The buses start to leave as I walk to the front lobby, I was late. When I entered the lobby Henry was talking to his 2nd grade teacher, Ms.Charcoal. "Are you sure? Shouldn't have she already been here?" I walked up to them. "That's my dad." Henry says, as he points to me. "Oh good," says the teacher, sarcastically. "You could of gotten here sooner, poor Henry has been patiently waiting for you." The old teacher pushes up her red cat-eye glasses with her old bony middle finger directing it at me. I wanted to give the teacher my two sense but instead I grabbed Henry's hand and briskly headed out the door "Let's go," I said. "Have a nice day, Mrs. Blondie!" says Henry as he waves to her. I stick my my middle finger in the air where Henry can’t see, I wanted to look at the teachers expression, but when I turned, she wasn’t there.
In the car Henry tells me about his day with every detail. "And then Ms. Charcoal yelled at Aaron!","Really," I say with fake interest. "I hope you brushed your teeth today because the dentist is going to check for cavities. Do you want to get your mouth drilled?" I ask him, "Oh no!" says Henry, "Daddy, don't let them! I didn't brush my teeth today, I am so sorry, I just forgot!" Henry starts to panic , He opens his mouth and feels each of his teeth. "I hope the cavities didn't get my teeth!" he try to say while his fingers are in his mouth. We start driving up towards a crowded overpass above the highway. A massive traffic jam isn’t unusual, but I really didn’t need one today. "Can we change the channel to pop music?" Asks Henry. I turn to Henry's pop station he likes listening to.. "All About That Bass," by Meghan Trainor is playing. Henry starts nodding his head while he's singing, his curly brown hair starts going everywhere, Nancy alway tries to get his hair neat but it just takes over half of Henry's head. I start to laugh at him singing, I’ll probably be late but I guess I should enjoy a little break from work. I start singing all "All About That Bass" with Henry. Henry immediately stops singing and laughs his head off as I try to match the singer's voice.
Ten songs later, and we have only moved a few feet. I look at my watch and realize that it's 4:25. I frantically get out my smartphone and call work. "Oval Offices, How may I help you?" Synthia says, over the phone. "Uh, it's John, look, the traffic is really bad, I haven't dropped off Henry yet.” I say. "Yeah!" yells Henry from the back seat, "I am sooo bored too!" Henry starts kicking the back passenger seat with his boots. "Get your feet off now!" I yell at Henry, forgetting I’m on the phone. "John!" Synthia says with a firm voice. "Daniel Is so mad at you! Look, you need to get to work now. I'll give you fifteen minutes, then you deal with the consequences." Synthia hung up the phone. Next I called Nancy, telling her to cancel the dentist appointment. She was furious at me. "One job John! One job!" She yelled. I turned back to Henry, "Looks like we'll be here awhile."
In the next 30 minutes we've only drove a couple of feet, this was the worst traffic jam in history. I look over to Henry, he was playing with my phone. Suddenly, my car started to shake violently. I grabbed my phone from Henry. "Hey!" Henry yelled. "Daddy! I think it's an earthquake!" He started to yell at the top of his lungs. Why would there be an earthquake in Connecticut, in the middle of winter? "Henry, it's not an earthquake," I tried to reassure him. "Daddy! What if we die! I don't want to die! I'm too young to die!" Henry started crying. I tried to calm down Henry, but it wasn't working. The car started violently shaking. everything in my car that wasn't connected or buckled to it began flying everywhere, making Henry cry even more.
About ten minutes later a cop with a dark mustache and dark brown eyes, taps my window. I roll down my window. "Sir, you need to get off this overpass, this is a level five earthquake." The police officer says with a tired voice like he’s been saying it all day. I thought a level five earthquake would feel a lot worse. I unbuckled, opened the door and fell out of the vehicle. The officer looked down at me, he was having trouble keeping steady himself. I grabbed for his hands as he helped me up.
"I am not leaving this car! Daddy, I'm scared!" Henry sobbed. I reached in to unbuckle him. Henry started screaming. "No! No! NO!" He kicked at me. I got in the car. The door was halfway open. "Need any help?" asked the officer. I ignored him. "Henry, right now!" I started to yell at him. The whole car shook, my face kept slamming into the seats. "Look." said the officer, "This overpass could collapse any minute. You need to get out or you will be breaking the law! Listen to me!" The officer started to raise his voice. "I'm sorry officer." I said, "Henry, would you like to go jail, because you will if you don't get out of this damn car!" I yelled at him. "Okay daddy," cried Henry. He hugged me. I hugged him back. "Okay now lets-," my back hit the top of the car. I bear hugged Henry, protecting him from the impact.
The car flipped in the air. The hood hit the ground hard, I closed my eyes while glass shards were flying everywhere. Henry's backpack hit my face hard, my nose started throbbing, I could feel a rush of blood coming out of my nose. The blood was tickling my face, heading towards my mouth. I wanted to keep my mouth closed, but it was the only way I could breath. Blood trickled in my mouth, my tongue was molested with a pungent taste, a salty, copper flavor that was overwhelming my taste buds. I tried to move my head sideways but when my nose started rubbing against the backpack, it felt like it was getting run over by a truck. I heard Henry calling my name. "Daddy! I need help!" Henry cried. I wanted to console Henry so bad, I couldn’t even squeeze his hand and tell him it would be all right. My mouth was engulfed by blood, the only way I wouldn't drown in it is if I swallowed it, and both of my arms were pinned to the ground. One arm w2as under Henry and my other arm was severely twisted against my back. I could here Henrys soft whimpers.
I felt the backpack lift off my face. My eyes were glued shut by my blood. Henry screamed, “Oh my Gosh! Daddy, your whole face is blood!” He started to hyperventilate. I started to cough up blood. “I-It’s okay Henry, my nose just was bleeding because the backpack broke it.” Henry put an arm around me. “Daddy, my leg is stuck under something!” “I can’t see Henry, can you rub my eyes for me?” I ask him. I feel his hands tickling my eyes. When he stops rubbing them I try blinking my eyes open. My vision is blurry, but as soon as my eyes started adjusting, I knew we were screwed. Henry’s legs were outside a shattered window, debris was crushing them . The front of the car was gone, replaced by parts of the road. I could see the officer’s hand, where Henry’s seat is. I looked out the back window. I could see a hint of sunlight near the top of the window. I looked over at Henry and kissed him, “We are going to get out of this place alive, no matter what.” I lied to him, I know that this is my grave. We are buried under all this rubble, we can’t even call for help. We are dead.