Sirens This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 26, 2010
Death is a curious thing: it likes to sneak up on people, so unexpected and surprising, like a green mamba snake from the wild Congolese jungle. Those scaly and plotting creatures have a tendency to hind in the trees, with leaves just as pure a green as they are. You could be standing right next to one, and never know it. So, once upon a midnight dreary, death flung onto my neck. Its’ slick slaws impossible to get away from, and easy to give into. Green with greed, it squeezed until my breath left my body, and I opened my eyes nevermore.


It’s night, and you’re in the car. Practice was exhausting today, and you can still feel the grime on your body from sweating. You kick your shoes off, and peel your socks from your feet. You gladly put them on the dashboard in front of you with a tired sigh, tapping your toes on the hard plastic to a pattern from your memory. You glance at the driver to the right of you: a young woman dressed in a white button down shirt, her brown hair in a messy bun, reaching for something in the passenger seat. And the driver on your mothers’ side: a middle-aged man, having a seemingly heated conversation on his phone. The faint light from the clock, and the street lamps outside creating an unsettling yet warm glow on your mothers’ face: her eyes lost in dark shadows, but her cheeks golden. She is muttering under her breath, probably making a list of what she needs to do when she gets home, and calculating how much sleep she will get if she does them all.

Your siblings are snoring in the back. You hear their bodies shift with the car as it turns a smooth, paved bend. Suddenly the comforting purr of the car and the sound of your siblings are invaded. You hear a distant, mechanic scream behind you, and you see the faint, panicking glints of red and blue lights. It’s racing towards you. Your mother comes back from her far away thoughts and pulls off onto the rocky shoulder of the highway. Instant respect.

You watch the fast moving metal box in your side view mirror. The siren and the lights like a warning that death was chasing it at its’ heels. You watch it pass. The screaming, panicking, tense thing is gone just as soon as you realized it was coming. Your mother pulls back onto the highway, and is lost in her thoughts once again. Things go back to normal, and life is uninterrupted as it should be. You look at the stars that seem like silver sparkles and sequences glued onto a black sheet of construction paper. You connect some of the shining dots. A chill runs through your body. A song skips through your mind, and trips over the grass that is you psyche: ”Cats and rabbits would reside in fancy little houses, and be dressed in shoes, and hats, and trousers, in a world of my own…”

You wonder what happened. What could have been so bad? What’s the worst it could be? Images, stories, events, possibilities race through your mind. You wish you could have helped prevent whatever it was. You put yourself in the situation of discovering a crash, and how you would help the victims, and the things that you might see.

You put yourself in the incident itself. Your body is folded like Japanese origami. Your feet were still on the dashboard when the impact hit. Tendons are torn, and the hot burning flame that is you dwindles to a low blue ember. Your steaming heart beating like a skipping scratched record on a rusty Victrola. You might as well have been turned inside out, like one of those two-character puppets: Little Red Riding Hood on one side, and the grey and hungry Wolf on the other. You wiggle your toes to make sure they are still there.

You suddenly remember all the times your mother warned you about putting your feet on the dash: “Not only does it get my car dirty, but if we crash, your legs are done for!” You slowly slide your feet from the dash. You ask your mother what’s for dinner. She replies, “Spaghetti.”



Then the red and blue lights came for me, but they were too late.

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