We always hear about how, in times of high adrenaline or points of peril, time slows. But what I remember as I ran toward the house, yelling “call 911” is how fast I seemed to make it to the nearest door. Not how long it took me, not how each tick of the clock seemed to hang, or how a moment felt like an hour. It felt like life—or fate—was hitting the fast forward button, impatiently searching to see how the accident was going to end.
Screeching tires and metallic crash set the clock spinning. The silence of living mass in helmets and leather jackets collapsing to the ground and tumbling to the shoulder; the bodies’ delicateness manifest in the comparative hush the way a trampled flower makes no sound. But alas, the images we carry with us speak loudly.
Survivor stories always seem to include at some point the declaration that the catastrophe survived seemed unreal, dreamlike. But what I remember as I ran back to the accident scene, seeing an open wallet laying on the dusty side of the road, was how this was the stuff one couldn’t make up. Not how unreal it was, but rather how frighteningly real it all seemed. For, staring up at me from behind a thin veil of a translucent plastic sleeve was a school photo of a pretty brunette girl, maybe a freshly minted teenager. A daughter for certain, though.
Moans of agony pierced the silence; motors had died but rider yet lived. The damage had been done and all that remained in its wake was stillness, of vehicles and of bodies. But cries of pain meant life, and the soft rustling of leather on gravel spoke volumes, piercing not only time
and space, but heart. It said with clarity that the young girl staring at the sky from her daddy’s wallet would cry over the road rash and bruises, but not mourn an irreplaceable loss.
The first slurred words of consciousness meant that tragedy would not fill the newspaper: an accident report would be written, not an obituary.
The wail of sirens in the distance lifted fate’s—or fortune’s—finger from the remote, and life resumed at normal speed.