When you have an active imagination you tend to find stories in the littlest of things. For this one, all I did was see an elderly woman while I was driving out of the parking lot of the library. Focus on her, focus on keeping a safe distance so I don’t accidentally hit her, and I find myself sitting in the car on the side of the road quickly taking notes much to the chagrin of my 3 year old son.
Everything is a blur. The only thing in focus is the other car; the car I hit. No, the car I smashed into. Stupid. I’m so stupid. What was I thinking? Why did I feel my phone was more important than paying attention to the road? Why did I have to pick it up at that moment? What did I learn in Drivers Ed back in high school? They told us about this. How many warnings are out there, how many ads? But this has never happened before. I do this all the time and have never had a problem. I thought I was fine. I didn’t think there would be a problem. Why? Why did this happen? Why?
“Are you alright?”
Am I alright? I want to laugh at my own thoughts. No. I’m not alright. I hit that persons car. I was careless. I wasn’t thinking.
“Are you hurt anywhere?”
Hurt. It hurts. My hands. My hands hurt. Why do my hands hurt so much? I look down at where the pain is coming from. My hands are still on the steering wheel, my knuckles are white. Have I been gripping the steering wheel this hard the whole time? I’m holding on for dear life. Why? It’s not my life I’m worried about. What’s happening in the other car? Where is the driver? How are they? Did I hurt them?
“I think she may need some help. She doesn’t seem to be coherent.”
Oh no. I did hurt them. What am I going to do? I didn’t mean to. I didn’t – oh, no. Did I kill them? I
My arm is suddenly warm. It feels…nice. And I smell…flowers? Roses. I breathe in the scent. What a beautiful scent. Am I in a garden? My mind drifts to fresh blooms of red, white, and pink. There are flowers everywhere. Someone has been taking loving care of this garden. I feel like I’m in a storybook.
I reach for a bloom and caress its petals. So soft, so tender. Some of the petals are creased, but their beauty is not lost. I can’t help but smile. I can’t remember a time I’ve been so…so…happy? Content. Relaxed. It’s refreshing. I wish I could stay here forever.
“Ow!” A thorn. I should have known. No matter how beautiful a rose may be, there’s always a thorn to be found, and of course I would find it.
“Is she alright? She’s hurting.”
Is there someone else in the garden? “Who’s there?” I call out and wait to see if they respond.
“Ma’am, we’re trying to help you. Do you know where you are?”
I hear a man’s voice; is it the gardener? And what does he mean do I know where I am? Of course I do. “I’m over by the roses. Where are you? Show yourself.”
“Ma’am we’re right here. You were in an accident. Do you remember?”
An accident? What is he talking about? “I don’t know what you mean. I’m standing right here.”
“Will she be alright?” A woman’s voice.
Why are there so many people infiltrating the garden? I just wanted some peace and quiet. I just wanted time to myself. But now that time is gone. I start to tense up again.
“She’ll be fine,” I hear a man say. The same one as before? He seems to be reassuring the woman. But why? What is going on? Is someone hurt?
Hurt. I’m hurt. The other driver! Quickly I’m transported back. Back to reality, back to the crash. But I’m no longer sitting at the wheel. I’m lying down. How did that happen? I try to sit up, but I can’t. People are speaking, but I can’t hear what they’re saying. My eyes try to focus, but all I see are blobs of color moving back and forth around me. Focus, Nicole, focus. But I can’t. My ears start to ring, and everything goes black.
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