Speak up.

Lauren D

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You’re 15. The cute senior from your physics class is picking you up for your first date. You’ve spent 2 hours getting ready, and you smell like excitement and too much perfume. He pulls up in his Toyota Corolla, and your heart beats really fast. You say goodbye to your mom and walk outside, trying to hide your nervousness by walking slowly and breathing deeply. As you get in his car, he smiles and gives you a hug. It’s going to be a fun night. You two drive around aimlessly, talking about your grades and how much class sucked on Tuesday. You talk about your friends and the weather and seemingly everything possible. There’s an awkward pause, so you turn on the radio. You’re dancing and singing the words out loud, and he’s laughing at you. You look into his eyes, and he holds the gaze. He leans in, and all you can think is “This is it!!” And then, it’s black. You never wanted this to happen. You never thought this could happen to you. But, here you are. You’re in a quiet hospital room, surrounded by your family. They tell you that he didn’t make it. As much as you want this to not be your fault, you’re overridden with guilt and heartache. You can’t speak. You can’t feel your legs. You’ve unintentionally taken someone else’s life along with your own mobility. You lay in bed and wish repeatedly that you would’ve sat straight. You wish you would’ve told him to pull over. You wish, wish, wish, but nothing can fix this now. Please, be aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Don’t contribute. Be mindful of the unpredictability of the road.