Six years ago, I narrowly avoided death. An uncomfortable turning sensation made its way into my stomach abruptly. I didn’t even have time to question it—as soon as I felt my lunch coming up, I frantically flailed my arms at my brother, who veered off to the side just in time, barely scraping past a huge truck skidding across the road. Oddly, all sensations of hurling my lunch vanished at that moment.
“What the hell was that?” Nate stammered, gazing in horror at the horrific damage the truck had caused. It was overwhelming to even take a glimpse of the mess; pedestrians crowded around the toppled vehicle, calling 911, filming the ordeal, and covering their faces in shock. Gray smoke quickly arose into the warm air, creating a bubble of debris around the area, latching onto the ominous atmosphere. Sirens cried out in the distance, the loud sound creeping closer and closer as finally, two obscure bodies were placed on stretchers and were escorted away.
“Let’s get out of here,” I whispered quietly, my lips barely moving. My stomach was still. Nate quickly maneuvered his way out of the packed crowd and into the quiet of the highway, where the sounds of accelerating cars replaced the sirens.
“Hey,” Nate looked over at me, expecting the remains of my lunch all over my seat. “Oh, uh-I thought you were feeling sick.” A worrying frown was forming on his face as he turned to look at the road again. I didn’t know what to say to him. I didn’t even know what had happened.
“I don’t,” I mumbled. “I-I still feel sick. I think I’m going to shut my eyes for a bit.” In my peripheral vision I saw the frown on his face deepening. Slowly, I shut my eyes. I couldn’t process what had happened for a while. It took me four days.
The next instance was not so ‘life or death’. It had been sunny all week—picture perfect weather for a picnic out in the local park—and my girlfriends and I had planned a nice brunch. I lightly fluffed up my freshly cut bob while checking my outfit in my mirror, and gave my lips one last swipe of gloss before leaving my room. My feet pattered into the living room where the light breeze of the spring day blew in through the open window—but my eyes made contact with the emergency umbrella I had propped next to the dining table.
“No,” I thought to myself. “No need for an umbrella on such a lovely day…right?” Doubt started to crawl its way into my head—I shook it off and adjusted my purse as I got ready to leave.
But my eyes kept drifting back down to the umbrella. Pink polka dots adorned its outer cover. They were staring me down. Flashbacks of the truck accident raced through my mind; I was perplexed—was my gut really telling me things? Quickly, I checked the clock on the opposite wall—I was running late. However, my feet were planted outside of my front door—I couldn’t move them. A minute went by. Then, two. Suddenly, in a swift motion, I scooped up the umbrella and scrambled out of the house, fiercely walking to the bus stop. The bus arrived. I shuffled my way through the disgruntled pack of people, desperately clutching onto the bus handles, until I found a small corner to lean against, gripping my umbrella in both hands.
“That.” Sasha, with her freshly painted shimmering nails, pointed to the umbrella that sat comfortably in my arms.
“It’s an umbrella?” Jane raised her eyebrows in question.
I sat down at the table, placed my belongings on the chair next to me, taking in the surroundings. It had gotten warmer out—the sun’s rays beat down onto the cement and the sky was a beautiful shade of blue, there wasn’t a single cloud.
I took a small sip of the water placed in front of me. “Yes. It’s an umbrella.”
“And may I ask why you brought that with you today?” Sasha inquired, her brows furrowing. “Lou, it’s been sunny all week and today’s supposed to be perfectly clear! Not even a single cloud.”
Jane perked up. “Wait, what if it’s some kind of trend?”
“A trend! You know, like, celebrities were probably seen with umbrellas on perfectly fine days.” Jane brought her iced coffee to her lips and took a long, dramatic sip. “Probably something Ariana Grande may have started.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. I didn’t realize that something so trivial like carrying an umbrella on a clear day would be such an interesting choice of conversation.
“Guys, it’s not a big deal! It’s just an umbrella.” I glanced at Jane. “No meaning behind it. I just happened to bring it today.”
Soon, the umbrella talk became old news. Delving into the delicacies of our favorite local cafe and talking ourselves out of breath, I couldn’t help but forget about the pink polka dots. Brunch was over, and the three of us decided to take a nice walk in the park.
Sasha whipped out her polaroid camera from out of her bag, “Guys! Look here.”
The photo was squeezed out of the camera, as we excitedly crowded around to take a look—then the sun disappeared. Thunder reverberated throughout the sky; what was once so blue and clear, was now crowded with angry clouds, ready to burst at any second. Strangely, I wasn’t surprised; somewhere in my mind, I had known it was bound to happen. My hand made a beeline to my purse where my umbrella was placed, preparing to wield it against the battalion of rainfall. A small drop of rain fell onto my hand, signaling the coming downpour as the clouds multiplied in a frenzy. I popped the umbrella open just in time—Sasha and Jane hurriedly huddled around me, their jaws open in shock. Quickly, we waddled over to a large tree whose branches extended out over us to provide some sort of protection from the storm.
Jane gasped in awe. “How?” She turned to face me, her face still frozen in shock. “How is it raining? Thank God you brought that umbrella today.”
“Yeah, thank God for trends,” Sasha echoed. “But, how in the world is it raining?” Her hand left the shelter of the umbrella to catch the pattering raindrops.
“Well, I guess the weatherman isn’t always right.” I chuckled nervously. We stood there, perfectly dry underneath the pink polka dots, waiting for the final drop of rain to cue the end of the storm. It didn’t come for another fifteen minutes.
After that incident, I learned to trust my gut. Though it didn’t speak to me everyday, it had left an enormous presence in my life.
The first incident was the most dramatic of all—the rest were very mundane compared to it. Once, I felt an urge to bring a jacket to a sweltering summer music festival; it turned out that as soon as the hot day turned to night, the temperature dropped thirty degrees. Or another occurrence would be when I ‘accidentally’ took the wrong bus to work, but it turned out the bus I was supposed to be on was stuck in traffic, and I arrived at work earlier than I should have.
Then, it stopped.
Jane had invited Sasha and me over for a nice dinner party. A glistening bottle of champagne sat still in my arms. Something told me that I should bring it tonight. After all, Jane was preparing the dinner and Sasha was bringing her famous muffins, so I couldn’t bear to go in empty-handed. At the bottom of my purse sat my trusty pepper spray—my gut told me that I should bring it as well. My gut was never wrong, so I obediently followed its orders.
I knocked softly on the mahogany door.
Jane, in the midst of taking her apron off, opened the door. “Hey, Lou!” She glanced down at the bottle. “Oh, you shouldn’t have! Sasha already brought three bottles over.”
Sasha, sitting comfortably on the couch with a wine glass in one hand, blew me a kiss as I made my way into the living room. “Oh, I didn’t realize. I just wanted to bring something over!”
“It’s all good, love! That means more alcohol for us!” Jane chirped as she transferred the champagne from my arms onto the kitchen counter. I plopped myself down next to Sasha, asked her about her new job, but somehow I wasn’t able to shake off an odd feeling. Was my intuition wrong? “Forget it,” I told myself. “Tonight is going to be a fun night with the girls, nothing is wrong.”
“Overall, it’s not as hard as I expected, and let me tell you—my co-workers are AMAZING, except for just one person,” Sasha shook her head in disappointment. “His name is Shawn, and he can’t stop berating me! He definitely has something against me, but I don’t even know what it is! I’ve been niee the whole time, but he reciprocates that with being rude and trying to act high and mighty.”
“Oh, Sash,” I rubbed her shoulder in comfort. “Don’t let people like that get to you. You’ve got this amazing job, and you’ve got people like us who love you, so don’t let that Shawn stomp all over you.”
“Yeah! Don’t let him get to you!” Jane shouted from the kitchen. Laughter filled the room as we continued our conversations.
Jane set the dinner table ready, saving the aromatic chicken piccata for last. “Dinner is served!”
Between the three of us, the piccata was devoured in mere seconds. The sounds of our conversation and laughter permeated the air; soon after, we all leaned back in our chairs, bellies full, relaxing after the divine meal. A peaceful silence fell over us as we lounged around lazily.
Jane perked up from her seat. “Who wants pizza?”
Though no one said anything, we all knew we were thinking the same thing.
We did a bit of everything while waiting for the pizza man to arrive—we turned a movie on, jumped around on Jane’s new bed, planned out an exclusive six day trip to Switzerland, and eventually plopped down onto the couch, succumbing to boredom.
I stretched myself out onto the leather seats, a small yawn escaping my mouth. “When is that guy coming?”
“I don’t know—it’s been nearly fifty minutes since we ordered the pizza.” Sasha grunted while flicking through the channels on the TV. She finally landed on an old rerun of Friends. The three of us laughed in synchronization, relishing the nostalgia of the beloved show. Nearly two episodes later, the doorbell rang.
“He’s here!” Jane cried out as she hastily rushed to her room to fetch her wallet. Sasha and I jumped up from the couch, making our way to the front door, practically drooling with the thought of savory, cheesy, pizza finally making its way to our tummies.
“I got the money!~” Jane sang her way down the stairs, clutching her wallet to her chest. But all the while, I felt a pressure on my chest—it felt heavy and forbidding. The pizza guy was bad news. Somehow, just like ominous foreshadowing, the image of him raiding Jane’s property wouldn’t leave me. My mind flit back to the can of pepper spray sitting in my bag.
“No…” I mused. “He can’t be…”
I couldn’t risk it. I scrambled to my bag, which sat patiently on the counter, and snatched the can before Jane made it to the front door. The door creaked open, and the rustle of pizza boxes being shifted to Sasha from the pizza man resounded throughout the living room. Before it was too late, I slid across the hardwood floor, snapped the cap off the pepper spray and came face to face with the him. The nozzle was aimed right at his face—I was ready to shower him with pain.
“Louise!” Jane smacked the can out of my hand. “What the hell are you doing?” She whispered sharply. The can plunged to the ground, emitting a hissing noise—it had popped.
Sasha was apologizing profusely to the man. “I’m so sorry,” Swiftly, she swung her bag off the coat hanger and produced a $10 bill. “Please take this.”
He left in a hurry.
“Lou, what was that?”
I collapsed down at the table, my fingers running through my hair in confusion. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what that was.” So, was this the end? Did this atrociously embarrassing episode mark the end of my once-accurate intuition?
Slowly, I got up and dug through my bag. “Sash, let me pay you back that $10—I’m so sorry.” My head was spinning in embarrassment and shock as I handed her the money. The girls gathered around me, placing their hands on my shoulders in sympathy—their eyes swam in pity as we stood in the deafening silence. The two pizza boxes, hastily placed on the dining table, eyed us in confusion. “Why aren’t you eating us?” They squeaked.
Sorry. Our guts weren’t up for it.