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I stood tall, still, and strong as sheets of rain fell to the ground. Lightning electrified the air around me and the resulting thunder tried in vain to shake me. Even through the thick storm my light beamed down onto the shiny black pavement, and then glinted back up at me.
My road could be endless, I don’t know. I suppose I never will. Cars don’t like to visit me a lot because there are better roads elsewhere with more lights like mine. Maybe even brighter than mine. I have one friend, but he is far away and I can only see him on a clear night when the stars emerge and glimmer like diamonds.
I suddenly saw two lights coming for me. It had to be a car. It had to be. It looked a little funny, though, as it approached. The lights swerved and swaggered. I think the car wanted to play. I flickered my light on and off as it approached faster and faster. It continued to swerve.
“This is fun,” I thought as the car was about to pass. But it didn’t. Right before it drove past me and into the night, the wheels swerved one more time.
I heard the car crunch as if it were nothing more than a piece of tin foil and the glass of the windows shatter like a wine glass hitting a cold tile floor. There was an infectious pain spreading through my lower half. Sharp metal cut into my metal slightly, like a knife puncturing soft skin. The ache began to radiate upwards towards my light. I had to flicker again, I couldn’t stand it. I felt sad because my new friend hurt me like that, and the rain that was still falling began to feel like salty tears.
I looked down to examine my wounds, but realized I couldn’t see them because the car had wrapped around me, giving me a malevolent hug. There was a girl lying next to it, but I don’t think she got out on her own. She wasn’t moving, but the blood seeping out of her skull was. I watched it soak into the wet earth. Then I listened. I heard nothing from her, but there was a noise, deep and guttural, like a wild animal, coming from a dirty boy kneeling next to the girl. He sounded frantic and tortured, but his words were not discernable as he shook her violently. Then he collapsed next to her, not moving anymore.
The smell of stale beer and whiskey cut through the humid air, it came from her hair, their clothes, the inside of the car. It seemed to poison everything, but there was no antidote in sight.
Every inch of me was covered with pain. Pain because of the car, but also pain because I could not help them. But I realized I had let my light flicker off. So I pushed within myself, almost shuddering with effort, and forced it back on. I tried to make it radiate onto their motionless bodies, kissing their bloody heads, arms, legs, and stomachs with glowing warmth in the relentless storm.
We stayed like that, immobilized, all night and into the morning. The sun rose lethargically, and the post-storm humidity clung to the air with tenacity. Dew frosted the girl’s hair and eyelashes.
When they finally found us, there were screams and wailing sirens which cut through the air sharply, and an agonizing pain when a machine pried the car’s metal teeth off of me. Many people had gathered, and I could almost feel the hot tears running down their already dampened faces. The boy and girl still hadn’t moved, even when the large men plucked them off of the damp grass and put them on moving beds. Everyone left after that, and I was alone again.
The following morning, more people came back to visit. Some were new, others I recognized from the day before. Many of them brought crosses and flowers that filled the air with a sweet perfumed smell. Their cries were filled with so much pain, and so were mine. But the sun that day rose quicker, and its light had a warmth that trumped even my own. It baked the skin of the people who cried and seemed to hug my skinny frame. I saw that it glowed with reassuring affection, just as I had for that boy and girl. And though I looked down and saw the people beginning to leave, I felt, for the first time ever, as though I wasn’t alone after all.