She appeared in a flash. Everything she did was exact, as though she’d practiced every movement. She shattered the driver side window next to me with a special hammer, then reached in and flipped the lock without looking. I was still dazed from the crash, but my head was clear enough to wonder if she owned the same car, and knew exactly where the latch would be.
The metal of the frame groaned against the pavement, and suddenly I realized why she was working so quickly; the railing of the overpass had been torn away completely, and my car was balanced precariously on the edge. She didn’t even flinch, though. Calm and determined, she yanked the door open, and cut my seatbelt with a knife. I reached for her, thinking she was about to haul me out, but the car was already tipping, and there wasn’t enough time. Instead she grabbed my wrist and snapped something around it.
Then there was more groaning, and I was falling, and pain shot through my arm.
If I was dazed before, now I was hopelessly disoriented. Somehow I was dangling off the side of the bridge by a length of climbing rope attached to my wrist, and the world spun beneath me as I watched the car slam, upside down, onto the ground dozens of feet below. I wouldn’t have survived.
She hauled me up all by herself. She was strong for her size. I remember thinking that she must train for this kind of thing. I slid clumsily up over the edge and onto my back, where I just laid in a heap, breathing heavily in shock and pain. She ran over, and at once her remarkable composure was gone. She collapsed onto my chest and sobbed in relief.
I rolled my head to the side, and finally I saw how she’d done it. One end of the climbing rope was secured to a light post — not strong enough of an anchor to hold the car, but more than enough to keep me from falling. The rope was the perfect length — enough slack to reach me, but not so long that I’d drop more than a few feet. And at the other end of the rope, I could see now what she’d attached to my wrist: handcuffs. She’d tied the rope to one of the shackles, and snapped the other one onto me. It was faster and more dependable than trying to clip a carabiner onto my belt, I suppose.
It was all incredible, and clever, but it also didn’t make sense. She had intervened in exactly the right moment, with exactly the right equipment. How could she have known?
I looked back to her for answers. She pushed herself up, and stared down at me, tears still streaming from her eyes. I had never seen this woman before, but everything about her was familiar. And suddenly, all the pieces snapped into place, and I understood. Her eyes, her face, and the emotion she showed when she looked at me only fit one story, as unbelievable as it might be.
“You are so strong, and so brave,” I said.
“I get it from you,” she replied, half in a whisper.
She was gone in a flash. Everything she‘d done was exact, as though she’d practiced every movement. As though she’d studied, and planned, and trained for exactly this moment in time.
The responding officer was very confused when he saw me, sitting there alone, attached to a light post by rope and handcuffs. “What in the . . . Are you okay? An ambulance will be here soon. Do you have family I should call?”
“I have a daughter,” I said, “she’s seven.”