[Not Really] Invincible
She flips to a channel. Breaking News. A teen is dead from a car crash. “She was texting and driving.” “When will they learn?” “Will they ever understand?” She shrugs and turns off the TV. That’ll never happen to her. That’s what they all think— Until it does. Flashing lights, sirens piercing through the air, a white sheet shielding a body— It’s all a faraway dream. It’s meant to scare them, to make sure they’re careful. As long as they’re careful, it won’t happen. At least, that’s what they tell themselves. She climbs into her car, adjusts the mirror, reapplies her lipstick. Notifications pop up on her phone and she quickly responds. “Be there soon.” She starts the car and off she goes—her phone nestled in the center console. Just inside her reach. Just in case. Her phone dings and she reaches for it. She looks at the screen. Then, she gasps loudly, her stomach dropping to her toes. Her lock screen wallpaper is gone. Instead, it screams PULL OVER at her in bold lettering. She pulls over, heart racing. “What is going on?” she says to herself. YOU’LL SEE. The bold lettering changes and she looks around frantically. Someone must be pulling a sick prank on her. She drops her phone as though it burned her fingers. WHY DID YOU DROP ME, it reads. PICK ME BACK UP. She does—reluctantly. She trembles like a leaf and tears are falling from her eyes like raindrops. “What do you want?” she whispers. UNLOCK ME AND I’LL SHOW YOU. Cars whiz by, unaware of her fright and uncontrollable trembles. Slowly, meticulously, she unlocks her phone. An app opens. One that she doesn’t remember downloading. I HAVE ONE INSTRUCTION FOR YOU: WATCH. WATCH AND YOU WILL UNDERSTAND. “What?” she squeaks. She has no idea what’s happening right now. LISTEN TO ME AND YOU’LL BE FINE. LOOK OUTSIDE. She doesn’t want to follow the phone’s instructions. Yet, something in her—curiosity, perhaps—tugs at her and moves her eyes to the highway beside her. Time slows down. She watches a car move like a turtle next to her. Her jaw drops. It’s her car. And she’s inside it. She recognizes her crimson lipstick, her dark hair, her black SUV. She sees her phone in the console. Her doppelganger reaches for the phone. She reads a text and laughs. She attempts to double-task, but the phone holds most of her attention. She watches her twin become distracted, swerve, crash. She blinks, unable to process what she just witnessed. “What happened?” she asks. Her phone buzzes in her hand. GO SEE. She gets out of the car and approaches the collision site cautiously. The two cars before her are smashed to smithereens. She doesn’t recognize her SUV anymore. She walks to the driver’s side, peers through the window. She sees herself. Crimson seeps from her head, her neck. It matches her lipstick. She’s not moving. That’s when she realizes her doppelganger’s gone. Dead. “A teen is dead from a car crash.” She will become another Breaking News story. She shakes her head, tears springing into her eyes. This can’t be it. This can’t be the end. This isn’t supposed to happen to invincible girls like her. Her phone buzzes. YOUR LIFE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ME. REMEMBER THAT. She returns to her car—her car without a single scratch, her real car. Her hands trace her arms, her legs. She’s still here. She’s still alive. She’s been given another chance. She turns off her phone.
This piece, titled “[Not Really] Invincible”, tells the story of a girl who felt she was invincible. She thought that the stories on TV of crashes caused by texting and driving were simply that–stories. She didn’t take them seriously. She didn’t think they would ever happen to her. Until her phone was given a mind of its own and forced her to see an alternate version of herself, one where she was that Breaking News story. Her doppelganger was texting and driving, and she watched herself crash and burn. The moment alters the girl’s outlook; she realizes that she should care for her life more than looking at her phone or sending a text. The girl in this story wasn’t given a name for a reason. She could be anyone. She could be me–or you. She could be any tragic Breaking News story. I wanted this story to be simple and ordinary because I wanted to show that car crashes caused by texting and driving can happen to anyone. You’re not special. You’re not invincible. It may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. So, please, love yourself and turn off your cell phone.