One Message for My Love Lynda
Since dinner two weeks ago, his future was clear: his wife opened the ornate glass door to his home. She took him in her arms and gave him the welcome he expected from Lynda Jackson—a careful woman trying on a new last name. Dinner was served after Tom Jackson, a rising insurance agent, changed from his new blazer into something befitting of leisure. Later came the goodnight kiss, followed by Lynda settling beside him. The prospect of having a woman other than his mother love him excited Tom, fueling his passion for Lynda. She asked him out on a second date for this Saturday, as her coffee met her smiling lips. Their conversations evolved from chance encounters to deliberate locution as the two grew closer. Tom, whose almost physiological need for love marked his twentieth year, continued northbound on the 101 through rush hour traffic, unbuckled and resting his arm on the doorsill of his 1996 subcompact—The Little Compact That Could. The window didn’t work anyway—its will to roll up dwindled after a particularly hot July. At times like these, love forced itself to the forefront of Tom’s consciousness. He fed his addiction for Lynda by texting her from when he left the office to when he brushed his teeth. His smartphone sat neatly on his lap as he weaved through traffic. Right now, Tom needed a woman, and Lynda was a few taps away. A single message shouldn’t take more than a few seconds, he thought. Tom set cruise control to 67 and looked down to draft new message for Lynda: Hey, heading home. I keep thinking about Saturday. Although he often wished for a quick reply, Tom rarely received one. But time was ripe for change, and his wish was granted. He felt his phone vibrate in tune with The Little Compact That Couldn’t Sit Still. His hands shook and his cracked lips formed the words “My luck hasn’t run out yet.” Lynda’s reply read: I’m looking forward to Saturday, too! What do you think about sushi? To a man whose emotions took logic’s place as the final arbiter in decision making, Tom had faith that his fairytale would end with the happy ending he envisioned earlier. But Tom’s mistake was misinterpreting imagination as clairvoyance. He started again: Good!. I was thinki— As it turned out, Tom’s luck had run out. Traffic stopped, and as Tom’s car devoured the next car’s rear end at 67 MPH, Tom and the stream of letters rising from his thumb came to an end. His body launched through the windshield and the freeway played a morbid game of catch. If the crack of his skull through the windshield had failed to kill him, the impact with the road wouldn’t. Lynda would not see Tom on Saturday, but at his funeral the following Friday. In his last second of life, Tom knew he loved Lynda, but didn’t expect the feeling to be mutual. Aware of his imminent demise, what remained of Tom’s short life was marked with regret—regret for meeting the woman called Lynda whom he would marry. He felt betrayed by a higher power. But ultimately, Tom’s own choices led to his early death. Had he been buckled, Tom would not have made a doorway from a windshield. Had he not traded his life for some words from Lynda, he would be here to rest his hand his on mother’s shoulder, whose tears darkened the oak casket to a shade of cherry. Lynda took his place and extended her hand, praising the woman for raising a fine man.
Thank you for your time and consideration in reading “One Message for My Love Lynda.” The following are some thoughts and information about my piece. A text message is dangerous, in the sense that this modality of communication requires not only your attention, but also your eyesight. Coincidentally, these are the same two things that driving requires, but the stakes are much higher when driving. Taking your focus from the road to answer a text is akin to being slapped in the face by a passenger, and expecting that you’ll remain a good driver–except a slap doesn’t last for several seconds. “One Message for My Love Lynda” explores the feelings of a young man for the woman whom he believes will one day be his wife, and the negative outcomes that distracted driving can bring about. It starts out with Tom imagining his life with Lynda as his wife; he believes this vision to be indicative of the future, and is therefore not concerned about the safety of driving without wearing a seatbelt, while texting Lynda at the same time. Tom later dies when he is thrown from his car after colliding with a stopped car that he didn’t see. I identify with Tom’s feelings of love, and his desire to respond to Lynda’s text as soon as he receives it; however, I have more self control than Tom, and would not risk my life to answer a message. I do think Tom’s story is a sad one, though. These sorts of preventable deaths happen far too often, and I believe that reading about a tragic character like Tom gives readers an insight into the possible outcomes of driving while distracted, even if the outcome seems unlikely. My title “One Message for My Love Lynda” serves to show that it was Tom’s choice to send just one more text that led to his death. In a sense, I am working to combat the “it always happens to someone else” mentality that is behind many of these preventable deaths. Behind the wheel, only you can prevent two tons of metal and plastic from colliding with other vehicles traveling at high speeds. I have feared death or injury from a car crash since I was a child, so I always take precautions when driving. My focus shifts from the windshield to each mirror, then my speedometer, making my rounds every ten seconds or so. I always wear my seatbelt. I never answer texts when I’m driving. I never drive under the influence, and I call the police if I suspect someone else is. And even then, I understand that I am never as safe as I am on the couch. A quick note on formatting: The sentence “A single message . . . he thought,” found in paragraph three and the first instance of “had” in paragraph six, in addition to all three text messages, were originally italicized.