Akane S

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White smoke curled up from the front of my car. I pushed down the airbag and unbuckled my seat belt. I tentatively felt the bruise across my chest and examined a cut lip in the mirror with a passing glance. I opened the door of my truck and slipped out. I almost fell onto the icy road gripping my door handle to steady myself. I found my footing and continued walking to the other car. The only sound within miles was myself. The forested road was heavy with frost and silence. There was only my movement, my breath steaming in the air. Everything else was quiet stillness. Half way between my car and the other one, my feet stopped. I couldn’t have moved them even if I had wanted to. Sometimes when you see something, something that not just doesn’t make any sense but doesn’t fit into your world view in any way, you reject it. You can’t believe your own eyes. You don’t want to believe your own eyes. The other car was a Toyota Camry. Old, the beige paint dirty, it spoke of many long road trips. There were a few lone stickers on the windows of the back seat, though the seats themselves were filled with all manner of refuse, bags and papers of some sort. The car had spun around the road and in its final resting place I could see a bumper sticker. Coexist, it said. The air was cold and I tried to burrow into my jacket, pulling the collar around my throat. My hands I shoved into my pocket, touching, reaffirming, that my phone was still there. I had been reading my Mom’s text, you never don’t respond to your mother. They should have been watching the road; I had barely glanced down for a second. I continued my approach to the car’s side. The road was all dark slippery pavement; I lost my footing a few times. The front of the car was hanging off of the road, into the bushes and ditch. It looked so out of place, intrusive upon the forest around me. I could just barely see the shape of a body in the back seat, hidden between the piles of jumbled objects. I saw it move, just slightly. And I froze. I froze like the entire forest had, as if everything was waiting to see what the person in the backseat would do. My eyes were locked on the figure, small, must be a child. It was a girl. I knew because her hair was long and her face delicate. A split lip seemed out of place on her small face. She saw me. Looked at me. I wanted to tell her I was sorry. But what good would that do? No there was already enough trouble. Her stare wasn’t accusing. She was confused; did she even understand what had happened? No, she must not. I took a step back. The girl turned to the front seat and saw what was there. I could see her heart breaking. I took another step back. And another, till I scrambled my way back to my car. I flung open the door and was already starting the ignition as I clicked in my seat belt. I started driving away. What good would my being there do? What could I have done? I had learned my lesson within the moment I saw the other car. What good would punishment be, that was punishment enough. This was a disaster, it was for the best that as little people were harmed as possible.