Excerpt from The Breaking Point in Heroes

I was not having a good day.

Actually, the whole day had been one giant clusterfudge. On the way out of the house this morning, I managed to spill coffee on my shirt, then my son Mason left peanut butter fingerprints on my best dress slacks when I dropped him off at elementary school. A light on my dashboard said I was due for an oil change—who the hell has time for oil changes?—and by the time I got to work, my right front tire was low on air.

It got worse. My computer gave me the blue screen of death, and of course I was on a project deadline. My boss-from-hell didn’t return my phone calls, and John, the team member voted most-likely-to-be-fragged of course didn’t turn in his (crucial) spreadsheet before leaving on vacation.

Lunch came, and I realized I brought my lunch bag but forgot the sandwich. No time to get one, so I ate celery sticks and a banana and pretended I wasn’t hungry. Then the break room coffee pot broke because some idiot left it to go dry on a hot burner. So there wasn’t any coffee or food or time to get any. Wonderful.

I worked like a demon all afternoon despite a pounding headache. No chance for working late tonight—hubby was out of town, Mason had to be picked up from afterschool, and before I got him, I needed to get the cupcakes and cherry pie filling I promised to take to his scout troop meeting. Tonight was a big deal—the science project review.

I had his scale model of a working rollercoaster made from Popsicle sticks in my trunk. No wonder I was tired. Mason and I had stayed up past midnight every night this week hot gluing that thing together. I made sure to drive very carefully. I was not going to be that mother, the one who hit a speed bump too fast and ruined my son’s shot of winning a blue ribbon.

So of course, my MIA boss-from-hell dumps a pile of ‘urgent’ stuff on my desk at 4:45. I skimmed what I could, and shoved the rest in my huge purse-tote to read tonight.

It went downhill from there. The elevator wasn’t working, so I hoofed it down the stairs, adding sweaty to coffee-stained and peanut-buttered. Someone in front of me at the parking garage didn’t have the right change. I hummed along with the radio and tried not to imagine shooting a bazooka into the slow car at the head of the line. That indicator light blinked on again, and binged a few times, in case I hadn’t seen it. Stupid light.

While I was at work, they’d closed off the street I usually take to get to the Interstate, so I swung down side streets, trying not to obsess about what time it was. (Of course I was obsessing. I still had to get to the store and then get to afterschool and then…) I hit every red light on the route, and got behind a school bus.

While I was stopped for the twentieth time, I got a text from Mason’s troop leader asking if Mason had reminded me to bring a hammer for a project they were finishing up. No, Mason hadn’t said anything about a hammer, so I figured I’d see if I could get one when I stopped at the store. Then Jackass in a Volvo cut me off so close his ‘Coexist’ sticker almost hit my bumper. Coexist my ass. Because of him, I missed my ramp and had to do a U-turn.

I was running late. Normally, I could have called my husband to see if he could pitch in, but Jim was out of town on business. I tried to call my sister, who lives nearby, but my cell phone was down to one percent and died as I looked at it. Damn. I pushed the speed limit and made it through the next light just before it turned red. Someone honked. Same to you, fella.