Not Today, Not This Way, Put Your Phone Away

Anna L

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I watched Cassie run to the car with her friend, Helen. Clearly they were in a hurry. Cassie opened the door and got in, holding the phone with her shoulder as she rummaged around for the keys. She found them and started the car. “Okay, okay!” she said, exasperated. “Guys, we’ll be there in a second, we’re pulling out now.” She impulsively pushed her foot on the gas pedal, and the car jerked out into the road. “Good grief, put it down and focus, please!” demanded Helen, pale with worry. Cassie rolled her eyes and hung up, tossing her phone in the cupholder. I watched them speed down the road. I sensed their attention slip… And so when her phone rang again, and when she picked up, and when the disastrous crash followed, I walked through the crowd of alarmed people and went to her. But when I went to see which “her” I needed to collect, I was alarmed to see the spirit of Helen staring in bewilderment at me, next to the damaged but breathing figure of Cassie. I cannot control karma. If I could, I wouldn’t go near a soul as innocent and undeserving to die as Helen’s. I wouldn’t even go near unmalicious yet neglectful people like Cassie. I also cannot control time. If I could, I would make the clocks simply rewind and rewrite history to give Cassie more prudence and understanding of how dangerous a distraction like a cell phone can be. Or, I would at least change events so her phone wouldn’t ring this very moment, so Helen wouldn’t die this moment, so Cassie wouldn’t ruin the rest of her nearly lost life. “Hello, Helen. I didn’t think we’d meet today, but life is full of surprises…” She just stared at me blankly. If I could just control time! I continued in my head. I would make Cassie’s cell phone fall to the floor. No, I would make her friend not call her. No… I would find a way for her learn the easy way that you need to just put it away so you can live another day. I collect people for reasons of all kinds, but this doesn’t have to be one of them. By the way, hello. My name is death. We’ll probably meet some day, but please… let it not be today because you couldn’t put your cell phone away.