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Taking My Time
I hurried through the streets, my hood up, shoulders hunched, my hands shoved deep in my pockets. It was a cold night, cold and dark. It wasn’t safe out, not alone, not in this part of town, but I’d gotten to the point that I didn’t care anymore. Let what was to happen, happen.
It had been so hard to see her, lying lifelessly on the hospital bed, so fragile and oh-so broken. Machines whirring around her, with tubes and needles from them keeping her alive. The constant, mind-numbing “beep” to tell us that her heart had not failed her yet. It hurt so badly to see her once beautiful face marred by three, long crooked scars, stretching from her right temple to her lip, giving her the look of a terrifying smile. Even worse was knowing this was all my fault. If only I hadn’t lost the bet. If only I’d been driving the car…
I took a sharp right turn and came to the street I’d been looking for. “Death’s Street” they called it. You could die here and no one would notice. Everyone was too wrapped up in their own troubles, they didn’t have time to care for a stranger. You just dissolved into the darkness of the street.
I curled up on the cold, dirty pavement and rested my head against the grey wall where there was less graffiti. The events of the accident played on repeat in my mind.
*‘We had laughed as I dangled the car keys. “I’m driving” I told her.
“No way. It’s half mine, and I’m older. I get to drive”, she argued.
I looked over at the brand-new, little red car. We had gotten it that dat and we decided we would go for a spin to try it out. But we both wanted to drive and so this argument had begun.
“Okay”, I said in a reasonable voice. “We’ll flip a coin for it. Heads I drive, tails you drive.” She agreed and I dug a coin out of my front pocket. “Three, two, one”, and I flicked it with my thumb. It spun in the air for a few moments and landed on the ground with a clatter. Tails.
“Yeow!” She grinned and snatched the keys from my hand, rushing to the driver’s side of the car. I sighed, and slightly disappointed, climbed into the passenger seat. She turned to me, grinned, and started up the car.
The rest of the memory is blurred. A crazy car that was being driven way too fast, saw us way too late. There was a screech of brakes. It happened so fast. I heard her scream, felt something heavy coming into contact with my head. Then, silence and darkness.
When I came to, there was a dull murmur of an ambulance’s siren. I was in someone’s arms, a slightly tanned man with dark hair, being carried to a stretcher. For a moment I caught a glimpse of the new car. The entire driver’s side had been crushed. Then I saw her, on an opposite stretcher. She was lying so still, with such a ruined face. I swallowed and closed my eyes, wishing to see no more.’*
A sob escaped my dry lips, and I tightened my arm’s grip around my knees. All the caged up tears from the past few days flowed freely from me, leaving dirty lines down my face.
I don’t know how long I stayed there, crying. A long time, I guess. Until I had no tears left and there was a flicker of light in the sky. I stayed still for a moment, choking on the last of my tearless sobs, and slowly, carefully pushed myself up. I realised then I was weak and tired and walked home, guided by the rising sun.
I reached my family’s house soon enough, and quietly let myself in, tiptoeing. As I shut the door with a click, I heard my mother’s voice from behind me. “You took your time,” she said.
I turned towards her, noticing the concerned look etched into her features and replied, “I had to”.