My biggest car crash wasn’t even a crash. Or a car. I was on my motorcycle, as usual going well over the speed limit. (It is impossible to go the speed limit on a motorcycle.) The light turned green as I approached the intersection, and I zoomed along, happy that I didn’t have to stop. The crossing car that was supposed to stop, didn’t. In an instant my nice open lane turned into a two ton steel wall.
My memory is off because I went into shock afterwards, which is weird because I didn’t really hit anything. I jumped right before the impact, flying in a slo-mo flip over the whole mess. I remember that time slowed way down. Normal sounds were almost absent. My bike folded in half as it smashed into the car’s front wheelwell, but I didn’t hear any of that. I do recall hearing The Blue Danube. I could see almost 360 degrees. Inside the car were three of my classmates, and I recognized all six eyes, opened so wide they almost touched each other. I looked down as I passed over the hood of the car and thought, “Hmmm, it needs painting.” Eventually I landed on my feet on the other side of the car. I’m told I opened the driver’s door, reached in and shook his hand, saying, “Nice driving, Tex,” but I don’t remember that part. I do remember that they lied to their dads and said the light was still green, and their insurance company didn’t pay, and I had to fix my bike myself.
My next big crash wasn’t mine. I saw skid tracks leaving the road, tearing deep mean troughs through the grass, then vanishing as the car went airborne over the ledge. There it was, down the hill near the lake, on its side, the top ripped off by a tree. In my daydreams I like to be a hero, but at that moment I froze, unable to go down and offer help. My heart beat so hard my ears rang, and my feet wouldn’t budge. I finally crept down, terrified of what I’d see, but the car was empty. I hated myself for being so afraid, so slow.
Those memories came back today when I came upon an accident. It didn’t look all that bad at first; one car rear-ended another. But as I approached, my feet became heavy again as I saw that the windshield was broken, and there were bits and splatters of gray and white matter dripping down all over the inside of the car.
It was because of all that self-hate all those years ago that I was able to approach the car; I was not going to be that yellow kid again. I opened the car door to an awful mess, but the girl inside was fine. An open cell phone was still in her hand, a red straw still dangled from her agape mouth. She had been sipping from a big vanilla malt when the airbag deployed.