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The interior of the car is warm, soft, comforting. The familiar tan fabric of the seats is smooth beneath my fingertips as I rest my hand on it, the other clutching at my sketchpad, the portrait of a woman staring out at me with soft, pitying, mouth half open as if to speak or cry out. As if to warn me.

The honk of passing motorcycle draws my attention to the road over my mother’s shoulder, both of us turning to see a man whiz by, taking up the road. My mother’s foot slams down on the brake, and we breathe a sigh of relief as he rushes past us, safe. Our fear that we would slam into him passes. I blink.

Bam!

The impact is heard as well as felt as the car jolt forward. The adrenaline high lasts for mere seconds, partly fueled by surprise, the other half by fear. Leaning back against the seat in the seconds before impact, I am thrown forward. My seatbelt locks, stopping me before my face can hit the dashboard, then catapulting me backward against the seat. My body strikes the seat at just the wrong angle. A splitting pain shoots through my left shoulder and neck.

“OW!” I yell, my voice hoarse and loud in the small interior of the little white Honda. “GOD!” that is a prayer, almost a whine. Then next is an ugly expletive that betrays my foul temper. “F***!”

Silence fills the car for just a minute as we pull into a car dealership off the busy road.

“Let’s see what damage is done,” Mom sighs, her hands expertly turning the steering wheel and guiding us into the parking lot.

I groan, reaching up to massage my shoulder.

“You’re alright,” my mother reassures me as we get out of the car.

Ignoring the aching in my shoulder I follow her back to the young woman who has pulled in behind us, her car barely damaged.

“Are you alright?” I ask as my mom goes to exchange information.

“I’m fine,” she replies, the look on her face tired.

Turning, I survey the damage done to the back of the 2000 Honda Accord. The bumper is crumpled, coming off the sides, the trunk bent in the center, popping up, unable to close correctly. My shoulder throbs.

I’m struck by the power the vehicles have. Supposed to be slowing down, it seems impossible that we could have been struck with so much force that the back of the car is damaged so badly, and that we could so easily have been injured.

I blinked, and then I was thrown forward and backward in the course of a second. Only the seatbelt kept me in my place. Whispering a prayer of thanks that no one is horribly injured I watch as a female officer pulls into the parking lot. I glance back at the mangled bumper and trunk, a visible reminder of the havoc that can be wreaked in the blink of an eye.

And that guy on the motorcycle? He never stopped.




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