Before That


5 pm Monday night. I just got home.

Before that I stopped at our neighborhood mechanic to see if the loud noise from beneath my car was an exhaust leak (meaning my car was safe to drive ’til he could repair it on Wednesday) or if it was some other more ominous and potentially deadly problem.

“That’s a good leak!” he exclaimed cheerfully, as he revved the car and the air around us vibrated and filled with exhaust fumes.

So I’ll crack the windows until Wed. and prepare to be embarrassed driving tomorrow. (Note to self—avoid drive-throughs.)

Before that I was driving home listening to Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” on audiotape, admiring the beautiful snow fall, and worrying about the jet engine rumbling beneath my car. The latter was my biggest concern until I rounded a treacherous downhill curve and started skidding. Turn into the skid! I kept thinking. TURN INTO THE SKID! But it isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially on a tight curve. My hands had a death grip on the steering wheel.  turnintotheskidturnintotheskidturnintotheskid!!!! Crap! This isn’t working!

Two words: Epic failure! I swerved all over the road, gathering speed until somehow, finally, I came to a stop off the side of the road, facing the opposite way I’d been heading. WhoaAfter a moment of stunned silence, I realized that everything was actually okay.  Thankfully, there was just enough snow to stop me from hitting the guardrail and I didn’t damage the car. Also, thank God there was no one coming the other way when I was spinning out of control.

After a few moments to gather myself, I tried to pull back onto the road. The car moved a few inches forward, then the fun whirring tire thing happened. Darn. I tried again. No luck going forward. Eventually, I managed to reverse off the shoulder,shaking hands and all, turned around, and headed to the mechanic’s. Well, that’s one way to put an exhaust issue into perspective!

Before that I was finishing the school day. “I hope the roads aren’t too bad!” I said to a colleague as she headed out. (File this under famous almost-last words!)

Before that I was remembering why it’s not a good idea to have school the week before Christmas. I remembered this All. Day. Long.

Before that I got to school, slightly stressed, partially deaf, but relieved to have arrived with myself and my car in one piece. I delivered my first Secret Santa gift (Fun!) and left a slightly desperate SOS phone message for my trusty neighborhood mechanic.

Before that I drove to school. More than halfway there, I turned to head up the big hill. “BRRrruuummmmm!”

I jerked my head to look behind me. What was that?! Was there a motorcycle I hadn’t seen?  Perhaps a whole gang of them? Nope. Not a car in sight. That’s odd… I accelerated to move up the hill. 


Oh, %$#! That’s my car. The one I’m supposed to drive to Philadelphia on Friday. Should I pull over? I don’t have time to pull over! I need to get to school. Well, the gauges are fine, there are no lights flashing and there’s no odd shuddering or vibrating. I’m crossing my fingers and going for it!

Before that I left home thinking this was going to be the one “normal” day of the week! Ha! Ha!


10 thoughts on “Before That

  1. Perfect format to build suspense and tension for your not so normal day! Glad you and your car are okay!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dogtrax says:

    I felt a bit like I was reading Christopher Nolan’s Momento, where the character has memory loss and the entire movie travels backwards in time. Nicely done. Glad you were OK and that it was a “good leak” — didn’t know there were such leaks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I think the leak was only “good” in the sense of “really impressive” for an overly excited mechanic. It’s like when the doctor looks at your scan and says, “Oh! Interesting!”–not necessarily good news for you!


  3. margaretsmn says:

    Car trouble is the worst. Last week I drove around with a loud thump, thump. When I finally had time to get it checked, they found a large bolt lodged in my tire. I hope you get your car fixed soon.
    I enjoyed this format a lot. I want to share it with my kids as they really need some new ideas for writing their slices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Car trouble is stressful! The near accident put it all in perspective though, and we’re getting the car fixed but opted to rent a car for the trip to Philly. A bit more relaxing all around.
      I’m glad you liked the format and hope your kids enjoy it as well. I think I picked it up during a March challenge a few years ago. It’s an interesting way to write!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great retelling of your day. We never really know how a day is going to turn out!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved the organization of “Before That!” Inspired narrative suspense. Are you on for Philly Friday? Tappan Zee Bridge or do you dare the George Washington Bridge! I bet your students would love trying their hand at a “Before That” story to remind them of the playfulness that writing can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rosecappelli says:

    What a stressful day! Hope everything turns out OK.


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