White Agony

the following post is entirely fictional.  Any resemblance to people in real life is entirely probable.  But this did not happen, and Lord help us, hopefully it never does.

The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round. ’round and ’round.  ’round and ’round.  The wheels….

She was trying to keep things calm even though she was terrified.  Her knuckles ached as she clenched the steering wheel, squinting into the bright white sheet in front of her.

This was certainly not the first time she had traveled this dark road in the winter.  She had experience, so this should be easy.


He had no idea.  He was happily snug in his car seat, singing along with momma, the same as every Tuesday night.

Every now and then he would stick out a chubby little mittened hand and proclaim “ohhh” at the swirling terror around the car.

It delighted him.

It horrified her.

“Just concentrate,” she told herself.  “Concentrate and keep things light.  Take it slow.  You’ll get there.”

The people on the bus go up and down.  up and down.  up and down. the people on the bus…

The wind would switch direction and the snow would swirl and swoop into a curtain of white.  Her car would pull to one side while maneuvering an unforeseen drift across the dark road.

Ice patches would sneak up from behind the white insanity momentarily seizing the control she struggled to hold on to.

Her stomach would drop in that tiny second.

A prayer would be murmured, “please let me get us home safe.  please let me get my little boy home safe.”

And back to the hypnotizing white swirls.

The door on the bus goes open and shut. open and shut. open and shut. The door on the bus…

This was the worst part of the commute.  This long, dark road.

On warm summer nights they fly down this road with the windows open, laughing at the breeze blowing in their faces.

Tonight they bundled themselves against the bright darkness outside the vehicle.

She just wanted to get home.  Inside their warm house.  In their pajamas.  Cuddling on the couch.

She let her mind wander to that place.  Just for a second.  Just for part of a second.

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish swish.  swish, swish, swish. swish, swish, swish.  The wipers on the bus go…

The world suddenly became incredibly small.

The wind incredibly loud.

She snapped back to their tense reality, but it was too late.

Their universe went all topsy turvy.

Very quickly their solid ideas of the physics of the world–knowing “up” from “down”–vanished.

There was a sense of being shaken.

And then the cold, white agony surrounded them.

As did silence.

Except for the blowing of the wind.

And the cry of a terrified, chubby-handed child.
The title came from a little help from my writing sounding board, twitter.  Thank you, @alannacoca!

About ksluiter

Just a small town girl...wait no, that is a Journey song. Although I do live in a small town. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a writer. We have joys and we have struggles. Just like you.
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16 Responses to White Agony

  1. Adrienne says:

    “bright darkness”…perfect.

    You could write a sequel for this one! Except I guess you don’t love imagining this scenario, huh?

  2. Nancy C says:

    Chilling. My worst nightmare for sure.

    The interweaving of the song is a brilliant, menacing move. And the image of the gloved hand! My heart!

    So, yeah, I liked it. A lot.

  3. Ratz says:

    Oh God! I don’t even want to imagine the last part of this story. this is scary beyond imagination.

    But it is definitely catchy and interesting… kept me glued to my seat.

  4. Katie you are such an amazing writer. I knew exactly how she felt. Such a chilling captivating story.

  5. Lydia says:

    As a mom this was hard to read, but so so good! I got wrapped into this moment. I agree with the comment about adding the song in, that makes it more real.

  6. Andrea says:

    Wow. This was great. It gave me the same feelings I get when I hear Carrie Underwood’s song … super powerful emotion. It was like a backdrop in my mind. It’s like knowing it’s going to be bad driving and scary and sad, but then as it ends my heart broke and I exhaled strongly. The singing to the baby, calming him, that last line – I can’t imagine it.

  7. Christy says:

    oh so sad. I mean your story was great, the writing was brilliant and weaving the song through was just genius, but I’m sad. Like someone commented before; as a mom this brings tears to my eyes and a sinking feeling to my heart, but as a reader I was right there in that car clutching the wheel and singing along.

  8. CDG says:

    oh… why, oh why has this prompt unearthed such darkness, such fear?

    I don’t want to drive home now, the snow banks seem menacing, the dark, wooded rural roads threatening.

    So, basically, Katie, it’s dead brilliant.

  9. Mandy says:

    Wow…terrifying and tense. My shoulders were up to my ears while she drove. I’ve been in situations – rainy usually – where you just want to pull over but know that would be even more dangerous. The concentration, the song…very vivid.

  10. Brandon says:

    I would absolutely freak if I were in this situation! I have had some incredibly scary night/snow drives. Great writing!

  11. I am grateful I never had to drive in snow with kids. It’s terrifying enough without them.

    This prompt IS bringing out the dark in everyone. What gives?

  12. Jessica Anne says:

    That was intense. You built tension so well in such a short piece. Scary stuff.

  13. Pingback: Secret Mommy-hood Confessions Saturday « Sluiter Nation

  14. Jessica says:

    Wow, chilling and gripping. The Wheels on the Bus lyrics were a perfect touch. I am freezing now.

  15. MommyLisa says:

    Living in Minnesota I have been there “white-knuckle” trying to get home from somewhere. Luckily never in an accident with my child. Knocking on wood.

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