60: The Man Who Wasn’t There

60: The Man Who Wasn’t There

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.

~Author Unknown

The cruise control was set at sixty-five miles per hour as I headed down the highway toward work. It was five in the morning and I was tired. I remember thinking that I would get a cup of coffee before my shift began.

The next conscious thought I had was that I was in some sort of terrible dream. I felt water dripping on my face and intense pain in my lower left leg. I looked up, stunned, to see rain coming through my shattered windshield. It was still dark outside and I couldn’t tell where I was.

I looked down at the maroon blouse I was wearing. “I know I am dreaming,” I thought. “Because I don’t have a blouse this color.” My mind went again to the pain in my leg. “You can’t feel pain when you’re dreaming, can you?”

I reached down and touched my leg and felt something thick and sticky. I brought my hand up to my face and saw blood dripping from my fingers. It wasn’t a dream.

Horrified, I looked around. Somehow I had driven down a road off the main highway. There were car lights in the distance but they were too far away for anyone to notice me. I needed to get out of the car and go back to the highway to find help. Then I lost consciousness again.

When I came to, the sky had begun to lighten and I saw shattered bits of glass all over the front seat and me. Now I could see what had happened. I had somehow crashed into a cement mixer, far away from the highway.

I heard a soft voice say, “Stay in the car. Help will be here soon.” I turned and saw a young man with blond curls peering at me through the window. He reached inside the car and patted my hand. I sank in and out of consciousness. Each time I awoke I remembered the words the young man had spoken and stayed in the car. As I became more lucid I remembered buying the maroon blouse the day before.

When the paramedics arrived and prepared to load me into the ambulance I asked about the young man who had called them. They pointed to a rugged looking man in a hard hat, flannel shirt, jeans and scuffed boots who was standing off to one side. I shook my head as the man approached. “He isn’t the one I saw.” I protested. “He isn’t the one who spoke to me.”

The man came closer and leaned over me. “You’re in an equipment storage yard of the construction company I work for. You crashed through the fence and rammed into a cement mixer. The only reason I came by here today was because it started raining unexpectedly and we couldn’t work on our scheduled project. I was just returning some tools to the shed.” He shook his head. “I could barely see the top of your head because you were slumped over. I didn’t know if you were dead or alive and I got too spooked to approach the car. I never spoke to you. I just called for help. There was never anyone else here until the paramedics arrived. You must have been dreaming or hallucinating.” The paramedics nodded in agreement.

I later learned that I had blacked out, crossed the highway, jumped a ditch and cut across another road, crashed through a fence and knocked over a soft drink machine before being stopped by the cement mixer. I had a compound fracture in my left leg, a split lower lip that required surgery, and numerous small cuts on my face from the shattered windshield. The doctors decided that I had not fallen asleep at the wheel, because if I had, I would have woken up quickly after I went off the road. Instead, they decided I had blacked out, although they could find no medical reason for it. They also said it was a good thing I didn’t try to get out of the car and stand on my broken leg, as that could have killed me.

Everyone I spoke to had the same opinion as the man from the construction company who found me. There was no young man with blond curls in the construction yard that day. My only rescuer had been the rugged fellow who ultimately called for help.

But I can see the young man’s kind face as clearly today as I saw it the day of the accident. I know he was there, to comfort me and to keep me from trying to get out of the car. And I know that God sent the rain that wasn’t in the forecast that morning so that somebody would return the tools to the site.

~Elizabeth Atwater

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