This Article is About
rain clouds
car lengths
traffic light
chemical reaction
The Minute Before Impact - 2
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The Minute Before Impact  -  2

The crack of thunder always followed the bright flash of lighting. Zeus was busy throwing thunderbolts into rain clouds. The clouds opened up as if giants were pouring great buckets of water over the edge, the rain fell in sheets instead of drops.

When the cool rain hit the scalding hot pavement, a chemical reaction occurred. The baked on oils, from a millennia of motor vehicles, liquefied, and pooled on the surface of the asphalt. This effectively turned the road into the equivalent of an ice skating rink.

The humid air inside the car reacted with the sudden coolness of the rain, and created a film of fog on the inside windshield. The windshield wipers, turned to the highest speed made no impression on the rain, and visibility was close to nonexistent.

Frantically searching the glove box for something to wipe the inside of the windshield, she finally found some napkins in the nearby handbag, and wiped the fog, while waiting for the windshield defroster to do its job.

Searching for the white lines that separate the lanes, she caught a glimpse of red tail-lights directly in front of her. She saw the traffic light about three car lengths ahead, it was green.

The tail-lights in front turned white. Her foot pressed the gas pedal, accelerating, in anticipation of going through the intersection.

The windshield defroster was not clearing the fog fast enough, and efforts with the napkins didn’t improve things much, because the rain was so intense. It was as if someone was holding a fire hose, wide open, directly on the windshield.

She was annoyed, but calm, this type of downpour happened every afternoon like clockwork. It would be over as suddenly as it started.

The next time she looked up, the tail-lights in front of her were red again. She glanced at the traffic light, to find that it had also turned red. An icy cold claw gripped her heart sending her nervous system into high alert.

She hit the brake, and simultaneously turned the wheel sharply to the right, in an effort to avoid the impact. The tires found no traction on the slick road, and her car slid sideways into the car in front.

The angle at which she hit caused the car in front to spin into the lane of oncoming traffic, the car traveling on that lane slammed their brakes, slid into the unfortunate car again, sending it back into the right lane, and directly into the car in front of it.

This chain-reaction went on for some seconds, breaks squealing, cars spinning, impact after impact, until ten cars in various stages of wreckage came to a halt.

Her car came to rest on the grassy embankment halfway in the ditch. The front end resembled an accordion crunched up. The hood bent and pushed up against the windshield. The engine pushed through the dash, pinned her legs tightly to the seat, and came to rest on her lap.

Her head smashed into the steering wheel after it bounced off the windshield, causing a spider web pattern in the glass, but it didn’t break. Amazingly, neither did her head.

A profusion of crimson red liquid flowed from somewhere on her face, soaking the pristine white shirt. The blood ran hot, and the little whiffs of steam it released had the distinctive metallic smell of iron.

The windshield wipers still beat wildly. She could not turn the ignition off. She reached for the door handle, but it would not open. The smell of burning rubber permeated her nostrils. She could not shift the gear into park or neutral.

She was oblivious to the pain in her head and legs, and only became aware of the blood when she saw the horror reflected in the strangers’ eyes, who was beating on the window to get her attention.

However, before all this occurred, at the first appearance of the red tail-lights in the seconds before impact, there was a total suspension of time, sound ceased to exist, and all movement freakishly became slow motion.

With no awareness of movement at all in the deathly silence, she had full awareness of the scene that was about to unfold. The car moving at 400 feet per second, a pathetically lethargic pace compared to the synaptic lighting that flashed around it, gave her plenty of time to contemplate the scene,( to use the cliché`), that “ flashed before her eyes”.

Strangely calling to life a summer afternoon some forty years ago, and long since lost to memory.

Considering what she did recall, it’s worth mentioning what she didn’t.

She did not remember her first lover, or those awkward first attempts at sex. She did not remember her first car, her first drink, or her first cigarette.

She did not remember being a bridesmaid or a bride, or having a friend that did not betray her. She did not remember her husband whose tedious, demanding ways exhausted her, and made her forget why she loved him in the first place.

Nor did she remember pregnancy or childbirth. She did not remember the fight she had with either of her children that severed the mother/child cord, forever.

She did not remember any of the hundreds of books, plays, or poems she had read. Nor did she remember all the stories and poems she wrote.

She did not remember the hundreds of mind-numbing, back breaking jobs she had worked. Nor did she remember any of the people she had worked with.

She didn’t recall her mother dying, or her grandmother begging her to come for a visit before she died. She didn’t remember when she started to regard the start of each new day with dread and boredom.

This is what she remembered.

Dandelions in full bloom, summer breezes blowing off the bay making the summer heat tolerable. Children squealing with laughter, her among them, chase after bubbles, iridescent and fragile.

The youngest child, still chubby and barely able to walk was her little sister. Her brother, sporting a crew cut, and with a generous sprinkling of freckles across his nose, blew the bubbles.

Her mother lounging on a chaise, holding her filter-less cigarette, wearing her leopard print swimsuit and Hollywood sunglasses, watched with a half-smile.

The screeching tires, burning rubber, exploding radiators, shattering glass, and crunching metallic sounds suspended for a few seconds, in the Akashic records of the universe, to view some vintage film footage from a place long ago and long forgotten.

She suddenly became aware of people prying the door open, and dragging her from the car. The noise, smell, confusion, shouts and screams, muffled by the rain, came back to her, she was instantly in her body again, by now the full force of the pain in her legs was upon her, and she knew she wasn’t dead yet

Street Talk

Now tell me Evelyn, either your research is incredible, or you have experienced this. having almost died in an auto accident, you have explained it spot on, well done. Which is it? hmmm :) Seriously, very good article Evelyn.

  about 1 decade ago

Thank you comes from direct experience:)

  about 1 decade ago

I thought so, one does not forget that kind of experience, glad you made it, and keep writing!

  about 1 decade ago
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