There’s nothing like a cowboy in the UK. We don’t have anything as powerfully iconic as this historic and symbolic figure from the US. So, I guess that’s what drew me to the answer the submission call; could a Brit writer take on the all American cowboy and make it work?
The storm arrives with wild abandon, twisting and turning, gray fury unleashing torrential rain that blurs the horizon.
“I don’t think you should drive in this weather, Candace!” my friend says from the covered deck.
I shrug away the concern, tossing my jacket over head, and run for my car.
“I’ll be fine, Renee!” I yell over the rumbling, “Thanks for lunch!”
Soaked to my ankles, I start the SUV, which I’d borrowed from my daddy as my car was at the dealership after a suspicious rattle under the hood had demanded attention. I switch on the wipers, which beat rapidly across the windscreen but barely make a dent in the deluge.
I wave to Renee, hoping that she can see me and maneuver the truck up the drive to the main road.
Borrowing the SUV had been a good idea, but taking the back roads wasn’t. Water gathers against the body of the powerful vehicle as I drive through a flooded dip in the road, the engine growling menacingly, choking on the rainwater,
“Come on baby…” I nudge the gas, my heart pounding against my ribs as the beast climbs, clearing the water. Miles of fork lightening ignites the sky, showing me eerie black clouds.
I’m about eight miles from my apartment in town when the phone rings; I activate the hands free system, the connection patchy, but my daddy’s distinct voice peppers over the line,
“I’m okay,” I say speaking over him, hoping that he can hear me, “I’m on my way home.”
“…Road is under two foot of water… don’t go to…”
“Road? Which road? I can’t hear you!”
“… Stay at Renee’s…” He says, “… not safe… under…“ More crackles, “…two foot of water…”
The line disconnects suddenly as a giant whip of lightening snaps across the sky. I try to play connect the dots with my daddy’s words, but come to the realization that I should indeed turn back to Renee’s. In the act of searching for a place to turn the SUV around, I’m distracted by rushing movement through the windscreen.
Panicked horses bolt toward me after exiting a broken fence. My gut reaction is to wrench the wheel hard left to avoid them and I do so, hitting the brake at the same time with both feet. The truck ignores the command and skids on the surface water, sending me toward the edge of the road where I careen down a verge.
“Oh God…” The air bag explodes as I slam to a stop at the bottom. My head cracks backward, smashing off something hard. The impact is enough to show me stars, and more worryingly, I see water rising over the hood that’s found its way here from the overloaded drains.
Lazy hands try to work the seat belt, but there’s an urgent need to close my eyes. With a breathy sigh of horror, I’m drawn into an unconsciousness that I’m helpless to fight against. Blood rolling into my eye from a cut is the last thing I see.
* * *
Arms, strong, sure and wet, reach around my frame, pulling me up and out of the haunting stillness.
“It’s okay… I’ve got you.” Rain beats down on the roof of the car like a drum beat; the smell of overheated metal is in the air, it’s acrid and catches the back of my throat.
“What happened?” I cough.
“You were in an accident.” The voice is male, deep, authoritative and utterly familiar.
“Brent…?” I whisper, “Is that you?”
“Hold onto me, darlin’.” He adjusts my weight, bringing me up against his chest once we clear the cab.
My arms obey, going around his neck, vision filling with lightening, blinding me for a moment until my sight is then consumed by his eyes that shine with equal power.
“I’ve got you,” he says again.
Brent easily carries my weight up the bank using a guide rope tossed down by someone on the road. We go slow and steady, his strength almost mythological against the storm. Horse hooves clip rapidly on the tarmac, sharp bellows of fear rising from the scattered herd.
I’m set on my feet, Brent’s hands on my elbows for stability,
I look up to take in the violent heavens that light up all around us, the rain stinging the wound on my head.
“You’re okay…” His hand smoothes back the strings of hair sticking to my face.
I look down the ravine at the car, the hood crushed, water flowing into the cab.
“You’re alright now…”
I hope I’ve done justice to the icon that I’ve created in The Storm. If I was to ask Brent to hang his hat up, he’d could then be from anywhere in the world, because the theme of love… that’s universal; yours and mine, regardless of geography.
But for now, I won’t… because he looks damn good in it.