"You've got to come home, Em."
Consumed by thoughts of the past, Emily barely registered the dark eyes right in front of her. Stomping on the brakes, she jerked the steering wheel in order to avoid hitting the deer frozen in the middle of the road.
Not for the first time that day, her stomach lurched and everything seemed to be happening in slow motion as she struggled to halt her inexorable slide off the road. Tires squealing in protest, the car careened wildly onto the gravel shoulder, bounced through a shallow drainage ditch, and crashed through a bank of trees, ultimately smashing into the sturdy trunk of an oak. The airbag deployed, smacking her in the face, knocking the breath out of her.
Gasping, it took her a moment to realize that the car had stopped moving. Batting away the airbag, she groped for the door latch, desperate to get out. Opening the door was not enough to free her. She was still pinned in place.
Panicked, she imagined it was his hands holding her down, trapping her. She could hear his voice whispering, "Shhh, Baby Doll." She could smell his breath laden with the sickeningly sweet scent of a cherry lollipop. It made her retch.
The action jerked her forward, the seatbelt cutting into her. It held her in place, not him. He wasn't here. It was just her mind playing a twisted trick on her.
That's what coming home did to her.