Trapped With My Teacher

By: Penny Wylder

Most other stations are static now too. Every one, in fact, except the emergency channel. That one comes through loud and clear. Bored of the static scraping at my eardrums, I pause on that one.

Then I have to re-focus on the road ahead, because suddenly, big fat snowflakes are falling on my window shield. I turn on the wipers and keep both hands planted at ten and two as the radio babbles on.

“—storm warning in the Buena Vista area,” it’s saying.

I zone in, squinting through the thickening white flakes. Buena Vista. That’s about where I am now. Little farther west.

“This plans to be a big one—the biggest we’ve seen in western Colorado since the 2003 blizzard, which dumped almost thirty-two inches of snow directly onto Denver in March of that year…”

I reach over and turn up the radio, eyes on the sky above. I didn’t notice the storm clouds earlier—I was too absorbed in my own head. Now I see them.

Now I realize what a mistake I’ve made.

Colorado can be like this. Perfectly sunny and clear one minute, and about to dump a record-breaking storm on your head the next. I bite my lower lip and listen to the radio, even as I feel my snow tires skid on the increasingly icy road.

“Anyone currently on the roads, especially up in the mountain passes, please, we urge you, find a safe turnoff to wait out this storm. Doppler radar suggests that snowfall will last well into the night, with no telling when or how high the snow will pile this time. In downtown Colorado Springs, three accidents have clogged highways—”

I zone back out again, then reach over to click the radio to off. No use listening to it predict my doom now. I know better than to test the roads in conditions like this, but I do need to find somewhere safe to pull off. I’m high up into the mountain passes now, with steep cliff faces off to my right side, and sheer rock mountain on my left. I haven’t seen another car in at least half an hour. I need to find a spot to pull over, yes, but not just any location will do. I’ll be trapped in this car if I choose the wrong spot to pull over.

What I need is somewhere habitable. Somewhere that has a structure, housing or apartments or just a little cottage I could claim as my own for now, until this storm blows over. Bonus points if it has a full kitchen and running water, but at this point, any kind of shelter is preferable over the idea of being stuck sleeping in my car while a blizzard buries me. I have a few emergency blankets in the trunk, but that’s about it. And nothing in the way of food at all.

I turn my windshield wipers up higher and squint through the heavy downfall. Nothing. For a moment, I pull over to the side of the road and check my phone. No Service. That’s to be expected this high up in the mountains. I’d hoped I could make it to a town where I’d get some reception before I got completely snowed-in, though.

Then, finally, a few more miles up the slopes, the snow coming down more heavily now, I finally spot a turn off to road creeping up into the mountains. I take it, and wind down a long driveway to what appears to be someone’s weekend getaway. A cute, cozy little cottage, probably one or two bedrooms at most. Someone’s private ski lodge, even equipped with a porch out back flush with the mountainside. I can imagine the family here probably skis in and out of that porch in winter, when they cozy up here for winter getaways.

To judge by the lights in the living room window, candles glowing behind fluttering curtains, someone is home, anyway. There’s a single car parked in the long driveway leading up to the cottage. In this snowfall, I can’t see anything else for miles around. Nothing but this place.

Here’s hoping the inhabitants are friendly.

I park behind the only other car in the driveway, zip my coat up to my chin, pull up my hood, and fling open my door, ready to sprint to the front door and face whatever awaits me on the other side.


Professor Lakewood

My first knock goes unanswered. So do my second, and my third. Finally, I give in and try the doorknob. I’m getting desperate with the cold sinking slowly into my bones.

To my surprise—and delight—the doorknob turns easily. I push it open and stumble across the threshold into a warm, cozily lit living room. There’s a fire already burning in the hearth, merry and bright in a space this small. Despite the threat of the snowstorm outside, there’s something instantly homey and comforting about the sight of flames dancing across wood logs. It reminds me of cozying up with Daddy and my big brothers around the fireplace at the ski lodge we normally rent every Christmas.

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