Death is No Fairytale

December 2, 2009
By , Manchester, MO
Memory is something that many lack, especially when it comes to traumatic events. My memory however of a frigid day in March is quite clear, like that of the windows of The White House. But this was no presidential affair. My mom cried that day, she cried with the force of an East Asian typhoon. I don’t know why, it wasn’t her fault; she was merely a roadblock for the inebriated gentlemen who ran into us that evening. I remember the day like a child would, with absolute clarity, but with the misconstrued emotions of a child. A child who had just realized that, people, they die.

The screech of the tires was the furthest thing from my mind when I left the house on that day. We were headed out to dinner with my family. My mom and I were meeting my family there. The wind was blowing the way it does in winter when a storm is about to come in, with a veracity that cut through you and made every inch of you cold. It was 6 o’clock and the sun was beginning to set behind the low, cluttered Hazelwood skyline, in all of its hazy glory. It was right at that point in the sky where it has the ability to always find your eye, no matter what your means of defense. It was that light that prevented me from seeing the blur that was a red van. Like a kamikaze pilot headed towards the U.S.S Enterprise he tore through traffic and barreled into our helpless, now sinking, ship.

Our brakes screeched, hoping to stop the attack, to which we were so helpless to prevent. But he didn’t know what he was doing. .11, that was his blood alcohol level. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but that’s a lot.
If you have ever heard a pterodactyl screech, I doubt though that you have, it would have sounded much like I recall the brakes sounding like on that evening. But we slid into that intersection and he caved in the front of our car. The crunching noise was like being inside a trash compactor. It filled your ears and made you wanna curl up and let it all fade away. But it didn’t. It was all over in a second. The clang, the crunch, the lights, my body jerking forward, the smell of burnt rubber. It all filled you from every way and became who you were for a moment and then, left you. Then all that was left was the silence. Your mind raced; was everybody okay, was I okay? The silence was palpable; it was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. And its astounding, because it was loud, very loud out there. But it was quiet in my world. We were in the middle of the intersection with traffic still trying to conduct business. And it was at that point that another thing came upon me, this was a monumental moment in my life. This was a horrible thing, and people just passed by like this was another episode of Law and Order or it was just another leftover dinner. It was a humbling experience. What seems like forever was only a minute, maybe two. My mother kept telling me it was all okay, and to just sit there and not move around. Then the light refracted through the broken glass and spilled onto my now heavy eyes in a red and blue fashion. The glass on my leg lit up a in a spectrum of colors and brought about my imagination for a moment. Taking me too a distant world where people didn’t run into each other with cars. But I was snapped back like whiplash by the sirens. You always marvel as a kid about firefighters and the police and emergencies. They seem so distant, saving a life never seemed real to you before. It was so surreal; the news was unfolding in your very lap. Now instead of playing in your room with an ambulance and a little guy, you are somehow transplanted into your Fisher-Price Be-Your-Own-Hero kit and you are the victim. You were the scared, frightened child. Its not as glamorous in real life. They pulled me out of the car. My rescuer was a faceless person. I don’t remember his questions, but I remember answering them, and laboring to do so. My mom and I were re-united after undergoing the in-depth questionnaire that the state says the EMTs must perform on us. We were fine. Not a scratch on us. So I figured, like any other kid, that everything was fine. I asked my mom about the guy who hit us. I recall the words rolling off her tongue like the water rolls down car windows in the morning. With great ease, not really caring where they end. The vowels and consonants took form of syllables, then into words. Those words took the form of something that gave a clear message that the guy had died at the moment of violent impact. Looking back on it, I was shocked how bluntly she said that. But, maybe she didn’t say it like that, but that’s what it was.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I thought and thought and he had died. Like he wasn’t around, ANYMORE. It’s like the first time you realize the world is alive, and that other people have lives. Or when you realize your parents were once children. It flips your world around. People can die, you hear about it. You are told that people can die. You’re told about people in history class who were once alive and are now dead. But it never truly hits home. The history book feels like a fairy tale. It makes you realize that if this guy can die. So can I. I can cease to exist, in this world at least. And the thought of this scared me, no pun intended, to death. It made me realize my own mortality. And my revelation was not just about death. But that this sole event, was not significant in the world. It was merely another event. The world would still spin, and every night, and on that night, the sun set. And on that night it cooled the earth to a unbearable temperature. I was still hungry and I never did get that dinner we went after that night.

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