There Is No Warning
Raindrops fall steadily from the clouds above, and spatter the laminated wood. Grief fills the air, and the pained weeping seems to seep through flesh and into the earth itself; accompanied by the soft sniffles of children still too young to understand. Your mother stands crying, her face in her hands and trembling with agonizing sobs. Beside her, your father, clutching her tight in an attempt of comfort though his own face is streaked with tears. They fall warm and wet, warm onto the cold ground that will soon cover you, the pile of dirt growing higher. The casket will go down, down, down 6 feet below the rest of them. Your broken body laid gently inside. Never to draw breath again, nor smile, nor laugh, nor move, nor love again. Bound to the icy stillness of death. Eventually, the coffin hits the bottom, and one by one, handfuls of dirt fall from shaking fingers. Siblings, friends, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles… They leave with hollow steps, aching to be told that it is some terrible nightmare that they will soon wake up from. Your mother does not leave. Standing there unmoving, she remembers when the phone had rung. Oh how she wishes that she had never picked it up now. Perhaps if she had just left it, ringing, ringing, she would have never heard, perhaps the news would have never come, the truth would never come ringing. Just like the last few moments after, after the impact of bone-crunching speed, the ringing in your ears that dimmed out into oblivion. But she picked up, she had picked up to the words every parent is scared to hear. “Ma’am-” You had picked up the call, it was- “We’re sorry to inform you-” Your friend, he hadn’t known you were driving. Now he’s scared of calling anyone again. “Your child was involved in a-” The road wasn’t too busy at all really, it was practically empty you reasoned, a few seconds couldn’t really hurt… Or could it? The ringing continued and you reached for the phone, eyes flicking down from the road for a second and- C R A S H. “They didn’t make it.” “What?” There was no warning, you hadn’t seen the other car incoming. “A traffic camera nearby caught some footage and-” The nauseating crack of bones and rupturing metal in motion all happened at once. “They appeared to have been distracted and missed the stop sign.” Your mother had dropped the phone. The filthy smell of gasoline and oil and blood in the air was overwhelming- The man’s voice continued from the phone on the ground:“Unfortunately, the other driver-” At 5:46 p.m, the air passed your lips on the way out and never came back. “-suffered fatal injuries as well.” It took them 3 hours to get you from the wreckage. Your body barely came out in one piece. The other driver had a family. They got the same dreadful call that evening. No warning. When you driving distracted you don’t see the warning signs. No warning. Reaching for that phone, or that drink, or that volume button steals your focus. No warning. No matter how experienced you are, or how short the text, or how empty the road- never underestimate the importance of driving safely. Not doing so causes 330,000 accidents a year for teens, 3916 of which result in a funeral. Prevent it: buckle up, minimize distractions, and focus your hands, eyes, and mind on driving. Do not cut your life or the lives of others short. Reject distracted driving, because there is no warning.
I have written a piece to prompt readers to envision the shocking weight of the consequences of distracted driving. By exposing them to a hypothetical and detailed scene of a very possible outcome, I hope for them to gain an insight into what the reality is for around 4000 teens and their families every year. Instead of building up to the crash and to the consequences, I work my narrative backward from its effects to cumulate in the life-ending accident that caused it all in order to contrast the permanence of death with the temporariness of a phone-call. With this piece, I hope my reader takes a sense of the fragility of life and an appreciation of the importance of safe driving because the only real solution is not getting distracted behind the wheel.