Chapter Six Donna was unsure of just where she was going when she let theat conference room but she knew she had to get out. Out of that room, out of the project, away. She went to her office grabbed her purse and made the trip to the surface. She had decided on a drive. She often found a drive cleared her head. It was also a chance to truly get away. To be enclosed in a sort of protected bubble away from Al, Sam the project, the worries. The protection never lasted long but she had found with all the uncertainties she was forced to face everyday the little moments of sanity she could grab were more valuable than gold. She slid the car out of the parking lot and slipped in a tape of classic rock. She liked to sing along at the top of her lungs singing out all her frustration and pain. She pushed the accelerator down and felt a rush as the car grabbed the curves and built up speed along the flat desert road. Suddenly her front right tire let off an incredible bang and she felt the car jerking violently towards the side. She attempted to wrestle the car back to a straight path. She let her foot off the gas and hung onto her skid. The car began to give a little as the force behind the gas disappeared. She felt a grateful rush of relief as the car slowed first to a crawl and then to limp finally coming to a stop on the side of the road. "It shouldn't be this hard!" she thought to herself . She had simply been a woman in a love, a scientist, a cheerleader to her husbands experiments. Now here she was alone, abandoned. Left on the side of the road in the desert night. Tears slid down Donna's cheeks. She laid her head forward onto the steering wheel. She was exhausted, Tired from worry. Tired from the uncertainty. Suddenly a knock on her window and a deep voice broke through her thoughts and made her jump. "Excuse me. Are you alright?" It was a man, fortyish with a look of concern spread on his face. Donna quickly wiped away the tears "Ah, yes. Thanks. Just a blowout." The stranger smiled at her. "Well I should have a look at it. I can put a spare on if you have one." "Spare?" Donna was not sure. This was after all a company car that was used by many people at the project. "I'm not sure," then as if to qualify her ignorance she added, "it's not my car." The stranger mearly nodded and headed towards the front of the car. Donna released her seat belt and got out to join the man who was now staring deeply at the remnants of what had once been a perfectly shaped tire. The heat of the night wrapped around her as she felt her body adjusting from the air conditioned car. It had yet to get cool the way the desert does at night. The sun had only set in the past hour and the heat still hung in the air like a guests unaware that it is time to go. "A complete loss?" Donna questioned the man. "Completely," he replied. "A blow like this, it is lucky you didn't flip. The tire must have picked up something from the road in order to break apart so completely. Do you have the keys? I'll check for that spare."Donna handed over her keys and watched in anticipation as he opened up the trunk. He pulled up the carpeting and lifted the rear hatch. Inside lay a perfectly round, strong tire. she breathed a small sigh of relief. As he pulled out the tire Donna took the opportunity to really look over the man who had stopped to help her. He was tall, ruggedly built with strong, square shoulders. his dark brown hair was neatly cut in a short wavy style that hung slightly in his face as he struggled with his work. Donna shook her head "what is this?" she thought to herself, "an evaluation? This was just a stranger who was kind enough to stop and give help to woman who seemed distraught." The man grunted slightly as he worked off the lug nuts and proceed to remove the remainder of the original tire from her car. Donna felt helpless and useless. It was a feeling she hated. "Is there anything I can due to help?" she inquired. "No, no. I think I just about have it," the man replied as he swung the new tire onto the waiting wheel well and began to re-tighten the lug nuts. When he had finished the man stood up and turned to face her. "My name is Stan," he said in a deep rich voice. "Donna. I mean my name is Donna," Donna was grateful for the darkness of the night which concealed her slight blush at the clumsy way her introduction had come out. She spoke up again. "You must let me repay you." Stan waved his hand in the air. "No. I would not hear of it. I was just passing by. Glad I could help." "But," Donna began in protest "I fell I must repay you somehow." Stan smiled at her. "Well I was on my way to a diner to grab a late meal and some coffee. I would be pleased for some company." "What is this?" Donna thought to herself, "A proposal? A scam?" Donna inwardly grimaced at that last thought "yes, that's right this man drives along waiting for some woman to have car trouble so he can invite her to coffee. What a master plan." The truth was Donna could use the company. A fresh voice. A new conversation away from the project. Away from the problems. to her surprise she found her self saying "I would like that" and soon they were on their way she following him in her car. for the first time in what seemed to long ago to remember Donna felt herself smile.