What would’ve happened?

Madelyn F

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What would’ve happened? Ethan received his license only a few short months ago. He felt confident in his driving, as his parents trusted him and he often chauffeured his friends around their hometown. Ethan was relaxed behind the wheel; he lay back in his seat, driving one handed, with the music playing from the radio so loud he couldn’t hear himself think at times- let alone the cars beeping their horns at his rear. As many newly licensed drivers do, Ethan routinely pulled out his iphone to text and Snapchat his friends, boasting the semi-new car his parents bought for him as a birthday present. His best friend, Noah, sat in the passenger seat dancing to the blaring music while Snapchatting the event as well- neither one of the boys seemed to be watching the winding road ahead. Ethan’s mom warned him to pay close attention while driving, it was getting late and the roads were icy. Assuring her he would in fact be careful, he slipped into his car and sped away to pick up his friend. What would’ve happened if he listened? His eyes darted back and forth between his screen and the road, every so often we would put down his device to turn or stop behind another car only to quickly pick his phone back up and resume his scrolling. He was doing nothing different from his usual routine, only this time he should’ve heeded his mom’s advice. Why didn’t he listen? Ethan didn’t notice the swerving of his car as he slid across black ice, neither did Noah. The boys were both so consumed by their devices, even when they did look up their minds were nowhere near thoughts of the road. Would it have been different if he listened? Trees along the edges of the road fleetingly passed by, attesting to the speeding of Ethan’s car. The car gradually accelerated, reaching 70, 80, 85, until he lost control of the vehicle entirely. Why didn’t he listen? The tires spun over the ice, his phone flew from his hand as he tried his best to regain control over his car led astray. The images outside the window blurred together- or was that his own vision- until all he could see was swirling grey and brown and spots of green. Noah sat next to him squeezing the door handle so tight his knuckles turned white. The music from the radio playing was enough to mask their screams, pounding in their heads with the same force of the spinning car. Johnny found himself apologizing- maybe to Noah, maybe to his mom, maybe to himself- but he didn’t know why. There seemed to be nothing he could do but wait for the car to come to a stop. Eventually it did with a quick hault. His head crashed into the window, Noah leapt forward, and the car itself skid into a tree. The world went dark, Ethan’s head ached as it felt the life was spilling out of him. Noah was silent. Why didn’t he listen? Would it have been different for him and Noah if he listened? His mom was the last image in his mind- her smiling face as he drove away for the last time- before he closed his eyes and fell back in his seat. What would’ve happened if he listened? – – – – – Ethan’s mom warned him to pay attention to the road. He hugged her and agreed before stepping into his car and driving away. His phone sat on the seat next to him on “Do Not Disturb” as he glanced back and forth between the road and his mirrors. Cautiously, he managed to avoid the ice on the road and safely reached Noah’s house. Noah plugged his phone in and put on music for the boys, quiet enough not to distract Ethan while he drove down the narrow road. The car followed the speed limit exactly, and Ethan was able to keep a safe distance between himself and the other cars. Although the two boys talked together, Ethan never once lost focus- his eyes remained planted on the road and his surrounding, ensuring his own safety as well as his friends. He didn’t want to be the boy who broke his mother’s heart for not paying attention while driving. Eventually, they reached the movies and hurried inside to escape the cold. Thank goodness he listened to his mom.