It was by all means an average winter;
cold enough to freeze your bones off and snowing hard. I was driving home through the heavy white snow, which contrasted against
the dark blackness of night; the lights of the other cars were all around me. The beer was there; I took a swig of it every
mile or so, not thinking about much except the road; some empty bottles occupied the passenger seat; my vision was slightly
altered, but otherwise I felt in control. The radio was playing old Christmas songs; most of them were probably written before
I was born. Then, far ahead, I saw two stopped cars and the tell-tale flash of red and blue upon one of them. "Shi-" I said
out loud; a sobriety check. I cursed for a few more minutes; I’d been stupid. Of course the cops would be checking people!
I hastily tried to hide the beers and scrambled around the nooks of the car for Tic-Tacs, hoping they would mask the liquor
on my breath. But all too soon and before I found the mints, I heard a cop yelling at me to stop. I slowed down the car to
a stop and rolled down my window, preparing for the worst. A medium-stature man in a heavy coat and furry hat stepped forward;
his face looked oddly grim. "Look, officer-" "I’m sorry sir, but the road ahead is closed," the officer said. "You’ll
have to take the detour through some heavier snow." I was taken aback; so he wasn’t searching for drunk drivers. Silently,
I cheered…but somehow, the look on the man’s face was enough to quell my happiness. The man started to walk away.
I could’ve let him go… "Why?" The word was out before he was out of range, and before I could stop myself. The
guy’s look of bleakness just overwhelmed me. He turned around and suddenly I noticed that his eyes were green; he was
crying, and the tears seemed to magnify the color. The officer walked back to the car and just stood there, crying softly
and very slowly. "Why?" I repeated. The cop thought about it for a moment before he responded. "There was a wreck about three
miles up the road. A woman and her daughter were killed." This didn’t seem to faze me; lots of people died in car wrecks.
But I persisted anyway. "How’d it happen?" Very suddenly, the cop’s face seemed to change; now, he appeared to
be angry and sad at the same time. "A drunk driver slammed headlong into them. He’s perfectly okay." The last few words
were said in pure disgust. I couldn’t speak; I could barely breathe. I merely nodded to the man and continued along
my way. My brain felt as if it was in shock and I had no idea why. I’d heard loads of stories about drunk drivers killing
people; I was frustrated that this one particular death was upsetting me. I drove all the way home and fell into my armchair…but
the moment I reached for a beer, it hit me; those two weren’t going to have a merry Christmas this year. They would
have been loved by whoever they were visiting, or at least each other. They’d died on a night when miracles were supposed
to happen; some sick and twisted form of miracle had taken place. And, it could have been them. It wasn’t them after
all; the next day, one of the news channels talked about the death of the women. It wasn’t Patricia and Margaret. I
shouldn’t have watched, but something had made me think about it. What if it had been me? What if I’d killed Patricia
and Margaret? I’m still an alcoholic. I still drink and drive. I still evade the police and sit in my armchair with
a remote and a bottle. But now I think about Patricia and Margaret, and even David.
I’m glad they escaped the
prison I created for them.
And, I’m glad that I’m still in my cell.