Trent told her how slippery the roads would be - warned her, actually, as she was grabbing her jacket from the hall closet, sending the heavy wooden hanger ricocheting around the rod and clattering to the floor. "You'll not want to be walking very far, Daisy," he cautioned. "It's a solid sheet of ice on them sidewalks."
"I'll be careful," she had promised, not wishing to worry her brother, just desperate to get away from the stifling atmosphere in the little house they shared. Though now, inching her way along the street with each step a potential disaster, Daisy felt her body become more tense than ever as she struggled to maintain her balance on the icy road.
Gritting her teeth, Daisy ached to stretch her long legs into a free and easy stride, to march purposefully along as if she were heading toward some positive future. Yet once again, she thought ruefully, I'm tiptoeing along in baby steps, just doing my level best to stay upright. I'm always being careful - careful at home, making sure Trent is taken care of, careful at work, making sure all the numbers add up right at the end of the day, careful with Davis, trying so hard not to slide down that slippery slope and let myself fall into love with him.
By this time, Daisy had made her way onto Main Street, where at least some small effort had been made to clear the snow and ice from in front of the storefronts. But the east wind blowing off Lake Erie kept sending more snow flying in swirls around her head, lashing her cheeks with stinging pellets that settled onto the pavement like dusting's from a jar of baby powder. Relaxing her posture and lengthening her stride, Daisy passed the nearly deserted shops and restaurants, remembering the phone call from her sister Lauren that had sent her barreling out of the house on this angry winter night.
"Daisy, you're letting life pass you right by," Lauren had proclaimed, as if telling Daisy something she didn't already know for herself. "You're almost 35 years old! You've got to quit being so darned cautious about everything and take a chance now and then. Why, where would I be if I had never gone out on a limb and...."
At this point in the conversation, Daisy dropped a steel barricade in her mind, letting the words of Lauren's familiar refrain slam themselves against it and lie in a soundless heap just short of her consciousness. It was all so easy for Lauren to say, with her happy marriage, two perfect children, and fancy city career. Lauren wasn't the one left holding the bag when mom and dad were killed in that train accident, Lauren wasn't the one who took over the family business and became responsible for Trent's care.
Daisy could feel her heart racing, and noticed the first inkling of dull pain at the back of her head announcing "migraine coming soon." She tried to quicken her step, noting that she had come out on the other side of town and would need to double back through Harden Park in order to make it home. Dusk was settling over town, leaden grey skies darkening ominously over Daisy's head. She shuffled warily across the slick road and into the park, wishing she had taken a few extra minutes to put her Igloo's on.
Within a split second, Daisy felt her right foot fly from under her, her left slipping along behind it. She wrenched her back and flailed her arms about, trying to keep her body upright, but the ground beneath her was solid ice, and she didn't stand a chance of righting herself. Her tailbone jarred as it hit the frozen ground, sending shock waves of pain running up her spine, and cold wind lashed her face as she went careening down the hill into the valley that ran along Hayden Creek.
Stunned and shaken, her head throbbing in a full blown migraine, Daisy came to rest in a heap at the bottom of the hill. As her heart began to slow its frantic beat, she recalled the sensation of sliding out of control down the hillside. To her surprise, exhilaration began to replace fright, and the misstep that sent her tumbling became reminiscent of an insistent hand at her back providing a nudge of encouragement.
"That was certainly throwing caution to the wind," she thought, grabbing hold of a tree trunk for support and gingerly getting to her feet. "But, actually, it wasn't half bad." Breathing deeply, she faced the slippery uphill battle ahead of her, and started inching her way carefully toward home.