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It took me 15 years and 364 days to turn 16, three tries to pass my driving test, and several months of nonsense to finally earn the right to drive on my own.

It takes a song and a half to get out of the school’s hellish parking lot at the end of the day, until the second chorus of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” to reach the first traffic light, and more or less half of any album in my collection to get home.

It takes an instant to lose everything.

Not one of those commercial instants either: Lose ten pounds instantly! Regrow a full head of hair in an instant! In an instant, that troublesome fungus will disappear! When those people use the word instant, it means at least a minute, or, if they don’t mind lying to the public, days or more. I don’t imply, and I don’t lie. When I use the word instant, I mean a fraction of a second. I mean less than a heartbeat.

I mean my head through the windshield, my mouth still open from singing along to whatever song I was listening to the instant before.

It wasn’t even my fault, not really. I suppose I could have chosen a safer car, but when deciding between a bunch of safety features I might never even need and CDs I would absolutely want in the next year or two, my judgment was not at its best. I blame the economy, and the constant civil war between heart and head. I blame The Killers for coming out with a new album every five minutes, and statistics that say I would probably never die in a crash anyway.

Come to think of it, the accident wasn’t even the other driver’s fault. I would probably run a red light if I were late for a dentist appointment too. Maybe not one at a busy intersection, but who’s to say it wasn’t a really important appointment? Perhaps he was getting a new filling. Yeah, I’d race across the road with no regard for traffic in my 2004 pickup for that, too, especially if there was nothing in my way except a wimpy ’98 Civic. Because I would be the only person on the road. Every other car would be driven by a robot, a drone that doesn’t matter in my world. The only thing that would matter to me is being on time for my appointment.

Like him, I too would be surprised when, after stepping out of my barely scratched vehicle, I saw the other car scrunched up like an accordion, like a piece of paper balled up and thrown against the side of the street. I would be shocked to see blood on the shards of glass strewn about the pavement because apparently I hadn’t realized running that light meant plowing into the Civic, which would lead to crushing the 17-year-old inside it. The 17-year-old who just wanted to listen to The Smiths while driving home.

Maybe I’m being too bitter about all of it. After all, the other driver did stand by while someone else called 911, waited patiently while the paramedics extricated me from my mangled vehicle, and even went through the trouble of leaving a note of apology beside my bed in the hospital. I, of course, wouldn’t know of his contributions to my well-being until after I woke up from the coma a week and a half later.

I sure hope his dentist was a good sport about rescheduling.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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This article has 95 comments. Post your own!

adinar said...
today at 3:37 pm:
I loved it all, especially the beginning!
 
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J1029This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm:
I love this piece so much! I hope it wasn't a true story. I really loved the last line, despite the sad emotion going through the story I laughed at that last part. I love when a story can change you emotion in an "instant" 
 
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KatnissEverdeenThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 9, 2012 at 9:25 am:
This is absolutely astounding(: Love this story! Such an unassuming name for an amazing piece. 
 
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KatnissEverdeenThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 9, 2012 at 9:25 am:
This is absolutely astounding(: Love this story! Such an unassuming name for an amazing piece. 
 
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SoccaPlaya19This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm:
That was some insane writing. Really fantastic! I loved the perspective and the point of view from the narrator. Awesome job! --C
 
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nicholas77 said...
Jul. 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm:
Wow, this was fantastic! I was only checking out this site as a model for a website I'm creating, but the first few lines of your story hooked me, and I couldn't resist clicking on it. I was not dissapointed, in fact I was inspired by you to keep working on my own writing, to aspire to your level. Keep on writing- I want to read more!
 
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fromafellowwriter98 said...
Mar. 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm:
Wow! I didn't think this was fiction! I could just picture the busy intersection in my own town when this happened. Great story with an end sentence that adds humor to a certainly unhumorous situation.
 
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Loki17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm:
Hahaha that was great! I love the satire.  Also, I enjoyed the omniscient/detached perspective. Actually, it reminds me of my short story "Nobody Cares."  I'd be honored if you would read it.  Nice work.
 
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Ayushi_austen said...
Nov. 6, 2011 at 1:21 am:

this was great!! i love the way you can change your perspctive in an "instant"!! 

p.s.: do check out my work too!!

 
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Beef11 said...
Nov. 2, 2011 at 2:13 pm:
I love this!! I once wrote about a car accident I was involved in, but this one seriously blew me out of the water! So great, tragedies can prove to be inspiring some times.
 
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SparkoraThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm:
I normally don't read pieces in the Realistic Fiction section, but I clicked on it for some reason and read your story and just want to let you know that you've changed my mind. A story doesn't have to contain magic or castles or dungeons to be captivating...you're story was captivating all on its own.
 
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transformers123 said...
Oct. 7, 2011 at 10:37 am:
This story was wonderful and I enjoyed reading it.
 
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mmb77This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm:
Amazing! I LOVE this!!!!!!!!
 
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JoPepperThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm:
The way you wrote this story almost made it kind of funny!!!! :D
 
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HollerGirl26 said...
Sept. 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm:
Wow! This was really personal and emotional!! <3 great work!
 
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mimirocks124This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 10, 2011 at 11:01 am:
i love love love the tone of this piece! its great what you did, its almost sarcastic. fantastic job!
 
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TAR11 said...
Jul. 19, 2011 at 6:39 am:
Cool story please check mine out if you get the chance. 
 
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AnimalGirl said...
Jun. 27, 2011 at 5:55 pm:
this story was amazing, great use of sarcasm!
 
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citylightsgirl93 said...
Jun. 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm:
i love the sarcasm! it makes the story seem not as harsh. great job!
 
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inkers This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 25, 2011 at 1:11 am:
Your voice made this story a lot more powerful. This was very well done, and the message was loud and clear! <3
 
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