This was absolutely the last time. It was impossible to explain to the husband, and the child screaming in the back seat wasn’t helping matters either. And, she was feeling like a total idiot, causing her body to sweat and her head to swim with emotion.

How could she have run out of gas again? AGAIN!

And, of course, she didn’t have her cell with her. He had just given her a hard time about this the other day when he had tried to call her, wanting to remind her to pick up this or that from the grocery store. Something HE could do, but for some reason wanted the domestic ability to call and tell HER to do it.

As she glided to the edge of the highway she gave into heaving breaths as she realized this was the first time her running out of gas had happened while on the freeway. The cars zoomed by at frenzied speeds, making her feel she was in a movie. She imagined she was and at any minute the director would yell, “CUT.”

But, there was no one to help her now. She didn’t bring her cell; she didn’t even have cash on her. Her wallet contained a debit card with a total of twenty-three dollars and she didn’t own any credit cards. Her daughter continued to wail in the back seat.

Her realization of what a horrible mother she was overwhelmed her. She hadn’t even brought anything for the child to eat or drink.

She was just going to run to the store and had decided last-minute to go to that cheaper place so they could maybe have something other than ground turkey and dry pasta for dinner.

The last time this had happened she was not even a mile from the house, and instead of suffering the humiliation of the husband having to come bail her out, she simply unloaded the child, thanked whatever was above that she had the stroller in the trunk, and walked home. She scrounged around for some change (enough for at least a gallon of gas), walked back to the car via the gas station where the attendant found her so funny he gave her five gallons even though she only had enough cash for one, and then dropped the mini gas can back at the station before heading home and crying herself into a total breakdown.

The time before that she had called her husband. He had been at work and really yelled at her over the phone. He made such a big deal about leaving work and having to save her. He told her it could never happen again. They had a child now, she should know better.

As she sat there staring straight ahead pretending she wasn’t stranded on the side of the highway with an unhappy child in the back seat, she heard a tap on the window.

Her heart heaved as she realized someone had approached the car without her knowledge. Her first reaction was to lock the doors and scream and scream and scream until someone like a policeman came to help. But, she grew up in the Midwest.

People are good.

She rolled down the window and was greeted by a smiling face, which was somewhat disheveled, but looked potentially trustworthy.

“What seems to be the problem, missy? Ya run out of gas or something?”

The voice seemed distant and surreal against the sound of the highway.

She figured he could help.

She was wrong.

* This week’s prompt – Write a short piece – 600 words max – that begins with the words, “This was absolutely the last time” and ends with “She was wrong.”

Here’s the rest of the story:

Help: part 2 and Before


25 thoughts on “Help

  1. Ooh. Chilling! Surprising! I love it!

    I have to admit that I am someone who has run out of gas. Too many times to admit to, so this was so very believable for me.

    I love your word choices: glided, scrounged, heaved.

    Love the intensity and hope that you continue the story line!

    • Thanks, everyone! This was a fun one for me – but really different from what I usually write. I appreciate all the feedback! (Maybe we’ll find out what happens in another post….)

  2. Oh no! No! No! This is the second post that has upset me today. So an excellent writing job, I will say, before I yell at you for ending it that way. 😉 It was so great. I loved all of it. I loved how she felt, the emotion, the way she was worried and overwhelmed and stressed and everything else. And I already hate the guy for calling her missy that I didn’t even need the last line. I want her to say no thanks, the tow truck is coming and thanks for stopping, sir, but be on your way now. NOW. Grrrr. OK, you can tell I liked it and I’m moved.

  3. Ugh, you made my stomach drop at the end. We used to run out of gas on a regular basis with my mom. I hated it, but I’m thankful that nothing like that ever happened since we ran out of gas on the highway once as well (and all before the age of cellphones).

  4. I loved the whole piece. Everything she felt was heartbreaking and I wanted her to be independent of the man who made her feel stupid.
    Then the end was so unexpected. wow!

  5. wow. i love how real the interior monologue was, and how it went in a direction I wouldn’t necessarily have expected. So scary…and with a baby in the car, OMG!

  6. Ohhh…that ending made me shiver. I have some VERY bad thoughts running through my head now.

    I think this could be so much better if you tightened it up. You can easily cut some of it where it gets repetitive (ie repeating in different ways how her husband would be upset because she ran out of gas again)

    I hope you continue on with this!

  7. *shudder* You got me with that ending! I got the first inkling at “People are good.” Nice job.

    Visiting from TRDC Red Writing Hood

    • Awesome, Erin – thanks! I’m trying to get over to all you #TRDC peeps and check out your posts, too! Anyone know why I can’t seem to comment on some Blogger hosters? @Lori, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your post, and I wasn’t allowed to comment on your site 🙁

  8. I thought this was great the first time but loved it even more this time because i read the next part. You absolutely have to write more. i want to know if she stays with the guy who kidnapped her and if he treats her well. Does she go back to the jerk of a husband? Waiting….

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