Just Half a Second

Sarah G

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My mother had texted and drove all the time when I was growing up. Sometimes, she just can’t keep her eyes on the road, glancing at her phone to check for texts from colleagues every couple of minutes. Maybe it was just a nervous tick of hers, but she never so much as got a ticket for it, so I never thought it was that big of a deal. Of course, I had watched all of those videos in driver’s ed, and I knew it was dangerous enough not to risk it, for the most part. Compared to my mother, I was a good driver. It was the first Monday after holiday break. I had overslept. Slipping on my raincoat, I hustled off the chilly stone porch and into my car. Pulling on my seatbelt, I quickly texted my friend to get on the porch. I couldn’t be late again, or I’d have to go to summer school and my parents would be livid. Groaning, I quickly backed up and pulled out of my driveway. Worry filled my chest as I pulled into my friend’s neighborhood. She knew that I was coming, right? What if she had already gotten another ride? If she had, I could turn around and barely make it to school on time, but what if she hadn’t checked her phone? I was going to be late. Subconsciously, I reached for my phone, fumbling with the home button in my periphery as I rolled up a hill. It was an emergency, just half a second. I saw a little white box flash across the screen. I felt it before I saw it. The lurch. The road, the steering wheel, the little white box smeared across my vision. My body whipped sideways. Grey static filled my vision like a pool, my hands bracing the wheel, everything twisting, turning, careening. I- I had been hit. I had been hit, I was going to die- I couldn’t see what was happening. I screamed, panic and adrenaline filling my lungs as I held onto my wheel, my lifeline- And then, I was still. It took several seconds my senses to catch up with me. I felt the hard plastic of the steering wheel first. I smelled the smoke second. I groaned, slowly turning off the car. I swayed, unbuckling myself, the static slowly clearing as I found myself staring at a perpendicular metal pole, just inches from my face. My heart hammered too hard for me to even process that the pole had nearly killed me. Slowly, I opened the door and staggered out of the car, clenching my stomach. I heard someone yell, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. I unlocked my jaw and braced myself on a pine tree, wheezing as I looked up at the blurry car, crumpled up like a tin can and smashed up against a flagpole. Adrenaline coursing through my veins, it felt like a dream. I didn’t even really care that I got my license revoked after that. I was terrified of driving, even though the crash was completely my fault. Knowing that I had risked killing someone over a text of all things is horrifying to me. Thankfully, apart from me breaking a few ribs, no one got hurt, but that doesn’t change how lucky I was. Now that I have begun driving again years later, I can’t even think of having my phone anywhere but the glove compartment. It only takes one glance at a phone to kill, and that’s not a chance that I’m ever willing to take again.