As you can see by the photo, Iowa’s thunderstorms are kicking our butts this summer. First tree limbs crashed into our house. Then our creek morphed into a raging river and washed out the road to our development, stranding residents on both sides of the Great Divide.
Mike and I discovered the washout when we were driving into town for our morning jog. One look into the cavern and I knew my plans for the day would be taking an abrupt detour. Since I couldn’t get to Des Moines, I had to call in on my cell--the phone lines had been washed out, too—and tell the summer school coordinator that I wouldn’t be able to teach my novel writing class. And I lost a day’s pay, which didn’t make me happy.
Washed out road, cut phone lines, stranded people. Gosh, if I were a writer, I might find a plot in there somewhere!
But the defining conflict took place inside my head. You see, one morning not that long ago I drove through water running over that exact spot on that same road. So when I saw the enormous crater where the road used to be, my imagination went wild.
What if I’d tried to drive through THAT running water?
I saw and felt and heard my car plunging into the roaring water. Torrents of water battered the driver’s side window. The glass burst inward, knocking me to the passenger seat and flooding the interior. I flailed helplessly, gasping for air. I pressed my face against the roof of the car while water surged around me. My mouth and lungs filled with water.
The scene played over and over in my mind, so vivid that it made me physically sick. Each time the ending was the same. Survival was impossible.
In the time since the cave-in, the road has been repaired with a shiny new culvert that—according to one of my neighbors—will stand up to a 500-year flood. If he sees water running over the road now, I’m sure he won’t hesitate to drive right through it.
Not me. After being a participant in the dramatic scene my brain invented, I will never, ever, ever drive my car through running water. No matter how great a story it might make.