The Aftermath

Shandra B

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The Aftermath Red, blue, and white go around in circles. First my dad’s face is blue, then my mom’s is red, then an officer’s is white. My head hurts. My lungs are struggling. Why is it so hard to breath? Red, blue, white, going round, and round, like it’ll never stop, and then finally black. Stark white, blinding light pierces my eyes as I open them. As I drift in and out, I hear voices talking above me. They mention something about a girl in another car and a head on collision. As I’m trying to focus the black creeps back in ,and I can’t hear any more. I wake up again to the same piercing light. Machines beep around me, and I look over to see my parents sitting in chairs beside my bed. I want to ask them what happened. I want ask them about the girl. I want them to hold me while I cry! I want it all to never have happened! The memories come back in quick flashes now. Me in my car driving home from work. My phone falling out of the cupholder, sliding towards the pedals. Me panicking slightly as I reach down to get it. The sound of honking and breaks slamming, headlights in my eyes as I try to hit the breaks. Too late. The sound of metal crashing, crunching, and scraping together. And then red, blue, and white lights. I find out two days later that I know the girl. She’s in my science class, two rows down, smart, and genuine. And now, she’s broken. They say her ribs, left leg, and wrist will heal, but there are never any certainties for comas. The guilt, the fear, the quiet sadness in the air is so heavy. The words “should have” become familiar fiends that plague my mind. In one single moment everything changed. It’s a moment I will never forget. After a week they clear me to go back to school. School? How can I go back there? The looks, the useless words people will say either out of anger, grief, fear, or consolation. The teachers carrying on as if a girl from their class is not in some hospital, possibly to never wake up again. How do they do it? How can they just carry on? As if nothing was happening? As if the day before the collision we hadn’t just been told the statistics of crashing. They had told us that 4,000 teens die in car crashes each year. That 1 in 4 were caused from phone usage while driving. I was almost one of the 4,000. In a way I was the 1 in 4. The girl in the hospital might still become one of the 4,000. How do you live knowing that you are guilty? Responsible? You see what the teachers never mentioned, was the aftermath. I am stuck here in this dark abyss. Here in this pain. My guilt burning, and my very being crying. “Here I am! I am here in the dark. I am here in the fire. I am here in the aftermath.” SRB