“There were so many stars,“ I said flatly
“In the sky?”
“No, not in the sky,” Definitely not in the sky.
I thought to myself, I don’t feel comfortable to say this yet, so I shake my head.
“Let’s go back to the beginning.”
“How did the day start?”
“It was a Friday. I woke up, went to school, trudged through the day, went back home, and then she asked me to take her to her friend’s house.”
“And…the she you’re referring to is—”
“Yes,” I cut her off.
“She came storming into the living room talking about how much fun Becky and Reagan were going to have at Reagan’s house, that not taking her was an ‘injustice’ to her social life. She’s become somewhat of a humanitarian since she started watching all those historical TV shows.”
“She sounds wonderful.”
I shell up again.
“I grab my keys, my wallet, and my…phone.” Should’ve just left it there.
“We started out the door, and I got the first message…” I can’t keep going. I don’t even know this woman. I’ve been sitting in this God-awful place each day, 4:00-6:00 staying silent, but today is different. It’s been a year and I couldn’t not say anything today, of all days.
“Go on, you’re doing so well.”
I can’t, I thought.
“You can do this.” There’s something in her voice today that just pulls the words out of me.
“It was from my best friend. She told me about a party happening soon. She wrote me a paragraph about how important it was to go to this party and missing it was practically committing social suicide. W-we got in the car and then I looked at my phone one more time and I saw my friend text me that the party was starting. Penny pushed me, saying we needed to go right then. So I started driving. I pulled out of the driveway and started heading towards Reagan’s. All I could think about was this-this party.” My throat dries up. My hands are getting sweaty. “I start driving. When we got to… a…stoplight….I looked at my phone. I can remember Penny telling me ‘Eyes on the road!’ I ignored her. She told me to go, but I was being haunted by Snapchats of a party I wasn’t at. You have to understand that for a teenager it’s like the end of the world when you miss a party. I-I need you to get that.”
“I understand that you are a young woman conflicted with the way you prioritize,” she says.
“So…it is my fault.”
“Why don’t you keep going?”
“No, is it my fault?”
“I won’t lie to you. This happened when you were driving the car, when you were supposed to be taking care of your sister. But, now you can’t shell up and bury yourself in guilt. You must learn from this. This is a problem everywhere, and if you can use this experience to spark some change, then I think that’s giving this atrocity some meaning. Understand?”
“Well, right before you turn towards the house, there’s a bunch of trees that you have to basically swerve to avoid. There’s signs everywhere, but… I didn’t see them. I didn’t turn in time and I ran into a-a tree. When I-um..hit the tree, the windshield cracked into a thousand little pieces. For a few seconds, before the.. windshield caved in, I looked out the window as the moonlight reflected off of each little crack, like a thousand little stars.”
In that moment, the fear slipped for a second and all I could focus on were these stars. Little did I know this would be my last moment of serenity for a while.