Atlantic Nights Chapter 11 - Trapped

Russell Wangersky
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Atlantic Nights Chapter 11

“Pee, Donna, pee!” he was shouting,” Helen said, “and he was holding you all tilted over like that so that when you did pee, it would run down the leg that had gotten stung. Because he’d heard somewhere that was the best thing to do for jellyfish stings. And you were crying because it hurt and laughing about peeing and you were embarrassed as well, downright mortified, and more and more people kept getting up off their towels and coming to see what was going on.”

“But I wouldn’t pee,” Donna said.

“No, no, you wouldn’t. And I remember the marks from the stingers, the red ropes of them up and down your leg, and Tom so sure that it was your fault, not for getting stung, but for not peeing. I think the peeing was an old wives tale anyway. It sounds pretty funny now.”

“It wasn’t funny then.”

“No — but I remember you got ice cream.”

“I did.”

“And he’s in Cavendish now?”

“He wasn’t supposed to be,” Donna said. “It was the GPS.”

“The GPS?”

“Rental cars all have them now — global positioning systems. Instead of maps. You turn them on and they tell you how to get where you’re going. He was supposed to take a quick run to PEI, but he took a right turn after he came off the bridge, and it did this thing where it recalculated the shortest way to get Charlottetown, and it told him to just keep going.

“The road kept getting smaller and smaller, and he went around a corner and it was just mud. You know, all that red clay. And he was sliding all over the place, the tires cutting down through the slush and coming up like blood, like you were cutting right into the ground — that’s the way he said it looked against the snow. Like it was bleeding. And then he slid right over on the side and the car hung up, and by then it was starting to get dark …”

“He isn’t hurt, is he?’

“No, no — he’s fine, Mom. Just fine. But he had to get out of the car to walk and get help to pull it out, he said he didn’t figure it would be very far because PEI’s so small. And he accidently left his cell phone in the cup holder in the car. He said that when he started walking down the road, the mud gathered up around the edges of his shoes like little snowshoes, and every step just got heavier and heavier. He’d stop and shake it off, and then the mud would just start to build up again. And he said it stretched his legs right out, and he didn’t know where he was or how far he had to go, and then the snow started coming down again. Well, you know Dad: he never packs a heavy enough jacket, because he never stops to think that he might need it. Because he doesn’t ever have to get out of the car.

“Except that he did.”

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Geographic location: Cavendish, Charlottetown

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