As I weave through traffic, I notice a sign on the freeway: "Report drunk drivers by calling 9-1-1." I know Nikki's not drunk, but this is an emergency just the same. I have to do something, so I dial.

The second I hear the dispatcher's voice I lose all control of my words. "My daughter has just taken my car without my permission…" I squeeze my eyes and feel the chain of trust that I have spent eighteen years building unlink. To make sure I get the dispatcher's attention, I add: "I think she's been drinking alcohol."

The words tumble out so fast I can hardly stop them. I now feel a warm swelling in my throat as I think about what I have done. Even though I know it was the right thing to do, I cry because it has come down to this.

I mutter some words, spouting off information about the car. I give him the license plate number, the year, model, the make. "It's a convertible," I say. He takes my information and files a report when I notice two California Highway Patrol cars come from out of nowhere, sirens blaring. They bullet right past me. I look in my rear-view mirror. They are already gone. I check my watch. It's 1:55.

"Ah…excuse me sir," I say, "has there been an accident around here?"
Without hesitation, the dispatcher answers, "Yes."

I swallow what feels like my own beating heart. "Well, do you have any information? Was it a Porsche?" I keep my eyes focused on the road up ahead as I drive. I don't even notice the traffic building up behind me.

"I don't know, sir," the dispatcher says. "I don't have the details of that accident. Hold the line, please.

I look out the window at the dry, grassy hills on my left. I don't see the thick, black cloud of denial that I'm about to drive into. I don't see the truth even though it's falling all around me like snow. The dispatcher comes back on the line and asks me for my number. "Ah…." I say, blinking hesitantly, because for the life of me, I can't seem to remember a thing.

As I round the corner at Alton Parkway, I notice the road up ahead is closed. I circle around to get a better look. It's not like me to meddle, but I have to make sure. The first things I see are the first responders working feverishly to keep the public away. It's like something out of a movie scene. Though I don't see many pedestrians, men stand guard around the onramp. I pull up next to the blockade and step out of my car. As I walk over to the area, three well-built Caltrans' workers walk in front of me. The guy in the middle reaches his hand out to stop me.

"I'm sorry sir, but you can't go down there."

I look over his shoulder and notice a large crane. I can't see any wreckage but I know there has been an accident. I guess that's why my mouth just opens and speaks for itself.

"I think that's my daughter in that car. I need to go down there and see..."
He places his hands firmly against my chest.
"I have strict orders sir; I can't let anybody go down there."
"But what if that's my daughter…"

Under normal circumstances, I might push him out of the way. But something is telling me to remain calm and do as I'm told. He radios down to the sergeant on the scene. "Sorry," he says, "but I can't let you go down there…sergeant's orders!"

I stare at his face for a second, wondering whether or not I should kick his sorry ass. But before I can take another breath, something even stronger is telling me to leave.

As I turn, I see the crane lifting what is left of the wrecked car. I see nothing but a mountain of twisted metal dangling in the air, until one very distinct, shiny chrome wheel catches my eye. Though my conscious mind is sure of what it sees, some deeper instinct is refuting the ridiculous thought. That car is a hardtop, I remind myself. But the truth seeps in.

Without warning, my body thrusts to the ground, and large pieces of dirt rake through my fingers. I don't want to believe what I have just seen is real. I refuse to let my mind see the truth. So I lay on the ground chanting the word, no. And I am speechless, in a state of visceral shock. I look up at the men standing all around me and pray that this is all just a bad dream.

I must look cold because the tall man on my left offers me his jacket. The other two pull me off the ground. I stagger back to my car, and somehow I inch my way inside. I hear the sound of my own voice quivering, while blurry shapes dance around my head. I try to focus on Nikki's face, but the world just keeps spinning all around me. I sit in my car trembling for what could be minutes or even hours. Somehow I manage to twist my key into the ignition, floor the accelerator, and throw the transmission into reverse. My car screams as it soars backwards, burning rubber, as I turn around and drive toward home. Maybe it's not her. Maybe this is all some horrible coincidence. This is what I'm telling myself as tears begin to drip from my eyes.

I honestly don't know how, but I somehow manage to find my way home. And just as I pull into my driveway, my cell phone rings.

"Hello sir, this is Sgt. Miller. We're on our way to your house to talk to you about the accident."