Things that go crash in the night: a car accident

Crash in the nightThe initial shuddering crash — more like a crack, really, like thunder — as the car meets the telegraph pole wakes me. My heart is thumping and I’m expecting the roof to fall in. My bedroom is full of light.

It doesn’t take me long to work out what’s happened. Looking out my window, I can see there are people there helping. There is no urgency about them, so I gather no one is hurt. I am home alone. Alone in the not-so-dark wearing a flimsy nightie. The first night home alone of what will end up being just more than five weeks. I feel somehow vulnerable and useless.

And then the process of clearing up, which I watch on and off, guiltily, through a crack in the curtains in my bedroom. I cannot see much, without my contact lenses in. Just broad strokes, no detail. Police lights, redirecting of traffic. A tow truck with its flashing lights and loud engine sounds. The creak of broken metal. No ambulance.

I lay awake for hours and hours, trying to slow my breath, worrying about my reluctance to go outside, thinking I should have. Knowing that if it had been me in that car, I’d have needed someone to come and help me. Then reminding myself that I’d checked that someone else had gone to help, that there had been no ambulance. And then starting the process all over again. Eventually, I sleep; a sleep disturbed by dark dreams I can’t quite remember when I wake.

In the morning when I leave the house, there is debris from the crash scattered all across the footpath in front of my house, and all over my front porch. There are skid marks on the road. I wonder about the circumstances of the crash, wonder what happened before it, after it. And still I am disturbed by the tension between my feeling of intense vulnerability in the night and my desire to help, not sure the right feeling won out. This will continue to bother me for weeks, months.

Monday Project – Brave

You said once that she thinks too much about the future. She always denied it. Lately, she has been carefully building various plans and putting them away in little boxes under the stairs. From time to time she will pull out an existing box and look through it, get excited, take steps towards making that box her life and then, without explanation, hurriedly put the box back in its place under the stairs.

Month upon month she adds to the delicate pattern of squares under the stairs, watching on as you use the same ragged bag to pack hasily made plans into and head off into the world. Reckless, she calls you, bull at a gate. But she sighs heavily and sleeps badly.

The plan boxes grow dusty and she grows grumpy and loses weight, perhaps from all the extra fidgeting. She drinks too much red wine and laughs too long and loud. Sometimes her heart beats faster without explanation, her hair quivers at the roots and her hands and face grow hot. You cannot help her because she will not answer your calls.

One night she wakes up shivering and sweating. She showers and eats breakfast in the quiet dark of 3am. Into a small bag she throws some probably inappropriate clothes, says farewell to the cat and leaves the house, stopping only momentarily to smell the mustiness of the cavity under the stairs. Reckless, the boxes whisper to her.

She pulls the door shut behind her, watches her breath create clouds in the cold air and wonders if she will see you somewhere out there.

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This is my submission for this month’s Monday Project. This theme is particularly potent for me at the moment because I am struggling with my own bravery (or lack thereof!). Perhaps I should read this book again for inspiration.