The Passenger

March 1, 2012
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It used to be that I'd close my eyes and see the fire on my back, as seen through a circuit of smoke and mirrors, twisted and perverted in a manner that only memory can reproduce.

Today I closed my eyes and saw nothing but the dark, and opened them to find that everyday is a collision at 180 miles per hour.

These are the things that I think about when I drive now.

These are the things that keep me up.

They toil my brain.

Make men go insane.

I'm driving, faster than I ever have before.

Sometimes I steer without my hands.

Sometimes I accelerate without my foot on the pedal.

Sometimes I like to pretend I'm dust.

Sometimes I don't know if I've won a race until the morning after.

Sometimes I play doctor so that I can play recovery.

It's not a big deal to tell the truth, especially when it's not unexpected.

I walked by a couple of teenagers, making out, parked on the side of a backroad, and wanted nothing more than to see the contrast of their red against a warm, black asphalt canvas. His portrait is somewhere in there, between the blood and scrap metal, hair slicked back with the sweat from his racing helmet.

Since when is there a church on the road towards the speedway?

A new study shows that seat belts can save lives.

I took the radio out of the car because it told me everyday was June 5th, 1969.

Hurts! He wants to know if!

I saw the gravestone, perched where the water goes to die, and laid down to tell it that "They won't even remember your name."

Youth never worries about rocking chairs. Or gravestones.

Got drunk. Still alive. Next time.

Now whenever I'm signaled for a pit stop I wonder if the car behind me is going to swerve away in time. I'll look in the mirror and see metal and blood spilt across the blacktop, with the familiar flood of gasolina jetting out from the tank of his '69 stock Ford Talladega.

The only person that ever openly expressed his appreciation for my presence, or how proud of my accomplishment he was, is now dead. And that is why God does not exist.

I want proof that there is no God.

I want proof that his body burnt in the fire.

I want to know if a seatbelt would’ve saved that windshield.

I want to see the engine eject from his Talladega and drive itself into the bodies of eleven Americans. I want to see his head strike the front grill of the other car, burns and blood meeting where his face is severed from the head and cooked from the heat of a passionate engine.

I'll make proof.

Who says that lightning can't strike twice?

Who says death comes in 7's?

Who says you can't recreate the sound? The flames? The vector of the car flying into the divide? The trajectory of the engine into the crowd?

All it takes is the right timing. The sleight of hand on the wheel, the split-second blindess of the driver behind me. They'll never see it coming. None of them will.

So much planning that my pit crew looks nervous.

They probably think I'm high.

I throw on my helmet with the vigor of a saint, smiling at the crowd who will sooner or later forget my name. They forgot his already.

And to think I didn't want to be remembered as the survivor of a freak car accident.

It's just a different accident. Three months later...

And I'd like it on record that I never asked why.

Why am I still here?

Why am I worthy of survival?

If he's not alive, then what am I?

The lights go down.

My engine is strained, pushing 0 to 60 in 5.3 seconds.

Won't matter. Never does.

We all arrive with our noses pressed against the windows, eyes yearning for a confirmation of Armageddon, and I don’t think that’s enough for me anymore.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Baconlovergirl said...
Mar. 5, 2012 at 11:24 am
Wow. This is very powerful, I like it. :)
WhittyKitty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 4, 2012 at 6:08 pm
WOW... That was amazing! I love how you told a whole story in a poem. I vividly understood what the character was feeling and had been through. Great job!
otherpoet said...
Mar. 4, 2012 at 2:51 am
Oh wow. I don't know if there's anything else to say, but I'll try and elaborate. This poem... it's quite breathtaking! You tell a story that is like no other I've ever read. You make it so that I feel like I'm with your character. You have an amazing voice. And this doesn't begin to cover how amazing I think this poem is. Great writing!
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