Turn It Off

Gabrielle S

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13 Minutes Before I’m walking back to my car. It’s a Friday and school is finally over. My best friend is with me, joking about something stupid Scott said. I can’t help but laugh. My phone vibrates in my pocket and I pull it out for a quick look. The sun is warm. My backpack is heavy but I feel light with laughter and free of school. The boy I like has just texted me. 10 Minutes Before I’m sitting in my car waiting to leave the school. I always wait a few minutes before going. Yesterday I watched two people rush out of their spaces and rear-end each other. One of them had been on a call and had gotten out of their car with their phone still pressed to their ear. Talk about addicted. I like to think I’m above that. 8 Minutes Before Pulling out of the parking lot is stressful. My car is small. The people with big trucks like to rev their engines and play bass boosted music. It’s very intimidating to have a lifted truck pull up against your bumper then have your teeth rattle to the beat. My phone vibrates again. I’m not going to check it. It’s only a few minutes until I get home. I’m not addicted. 3 Minutes Before The highway is fast but if you hit one red light you hit them all. Everyone speeds. I’m no exception. My phone keeps vibrating. I’m considering checking it at the next red light. It’s probably just the group chat. It could be him though. 2 Minutes Before It vibrates again. Damn it, maybe I am addicted. I reach down and wriggle the phone from my pocket. The next traffic light is far but still green. I’ll make it. I look down, unlock my phone, and glance back up. The light’s yellow. 1 Minute 3 Seconds Before Shit. My foot presses on the gas. 56 Seconds Before I type in my passcode and open my messages. I’m speeding a lot. The light is still yellow. 41 Seconds Before 23 new messages. They’re all from the chat. Damn. 23 Seconds Before Joshy: Sounds cool. Ellie: Want to see a movie? Hannah: Hmmm don’t know. Melanie? 12 Seconds Before I smile anyway and suddenly I’m abandoning the road to text them back. 5 Seconds Before There’s a loud honking and my head jolts up. 3 Seconds Before Cars are coming towards me. I slam on the breaks, but it doesn’t help. I can’t slow down! 0 Seconds Before Cars slam into mine. 10 Seconds After What just happened? Oh God my leg! I can’t move it! 15 Seconds After Is that my windshield? It looks cracked. 23 Seconds After There’s blood running down my forehead. It hurts to keep my eyes open. 34 Seconds After My vision is splotchy but I think it’s just me who got hurt. The other cars seem okay. Shit, other cars! There’s three of them! Three cars just got ruined because of me. 1 Minute After I think they’re calling the police. I’m going to be in so much trouble. 6 Minutes After I think the ambulance is here. My leg hurts. Really bad. I closed my eyes otherwise I might pass out. 10 Minutes After I’m in an ambulance. The paramedics are rushing around. They won’t let me look at my leg. I’m scared. 11 Minutes After Oh God, there’s someone else in here too. They have an oxygen mask on. I should never have picked up my phone. I should’ve just turned it off.