My Accident

November 15, 2007
Neon, day-glow sparks were flying centimeters away from me, a thin sheet of glass acting as my only safeguard. The smell of the burnt rubber permeated into the confined space, since I hadn’t closed my window all the way after I cranked my AC onto full blast due to the unusually hot heat. The members of Rent, who had been singing in harmony from my speakers about the devastation of AIDS and living life to the fullest, skipped a beat as I slammed on the brakes, banging my head against the side window. In that instant, my only capability was to throw my hand toward my best friend, thinking for some reason that would protect her.

Earlier that day, I had gone downstairs and grabbed my keys, sunglasses and towel, prepping myself for a relaxing day at my friend’s pool. My mother sat multi-tasking, folding the laundry while watching her favorite home shopping channel. As I walked past the living room, her eyes focused on me, narrowing in. She asked if I was going out. Annoyed that she was checking up on me, I grunted in agreement. The weekend before last I hadn’t called her when I went out after work. When I parked my car in the same spot I do everyday, slowing down beside the hedges, I could see her staring out the bay window with her phone in hand. I had left my phone at home, like usual. She knew that I always forgot to grab it and even when I did have it on me; I usually had it on silent, never noticing that it was ringing. As I trudged up the steps of my porch, going over what I knew she would undoubtedly say, I was greeted by an open door and tightly crossed arms. After making sure that I was safe, I was subjected to the same tedious, overplayed speeches about her worrying and how someday I would understand.

In the moment that my ’84 black Celebrity slammed into the guardrail, my life didn’t flash before my eyes, as most say, when you have a near death experience. Only two thoughts crossed my mind in that split second before I finally regained control of the breaks and slammed to a halt. Thinking I was going to die, I became overcome with worry that my mother didn’t know where I was. I had said that I was just going to the pool. What was going to happen when I didn’t come home that night, when she called my friend’s parents and they told her that we had gone out? What would go through her mind when they identified me miles away from where I was supposed to be? I hadn’t called her when we changed our plans, deciding to go out instead. Thinking why did she even care. Now, as my arm rammed into my friend’s chest, I couldn’t believe that I was going to hurt her too. She had offered to drive that day, since she knew where she was going and I, never one to quite understand directions, didn’t. I had rebuffed her offer, taking any opportunity to drive. I loved the freedom. She didn’t deserve this.

As my car slowly drove back to my friend’s house, my friend ran out of the car ahead of me, wanting to prepare her parents for the unsightly seen. Later, while I was crying against her shoulder, her mother came up behind me, running her hands through my hair, whispering that everything was going to be okay. At least we were both wearing seatbelts, and no serious injuries took place. That fact didn’t amount to much at the time. All I was aware of was that when I walked into my house, my pitiful car grinding to a halt in the same place as usual, my mother would see my red, puffy eyes, and assume the worst. When I did finally manage to calm down enough so that I was able to drive, I took the long way home, to psych myself up.

Stepping through the porch door, I was again greeted by an open door, but this time, I was also greeted by open arms that wrapped around me tight. My mother held me, saying she was just glad we were both okay, and saying curtly that at least now I knew what she went through, constantly fretting. I knew the feeling that something was wrong with a loved one. I soaked that in, just glad to be home in her arms, never wanting to leave that safety net again.

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