Fifteen Seconds Ago
We are, each one of us, the sum of every moment we have ever experienced with every person to cross our path however briefly they lingered or however long they stayed.
We were driving down the highway on our way to the restaurant where I booked a table for two, one month ago.
I did not plan for the storm that would be brewing over the city skyline. I wanted it to be a clear star studded night, I wanted to take you to the place where we met and lie back on the hood of my car, with our backs against the windscreen as we did that first night. To repeat the slow, tentative way I curled my fingers through yours and once again relive the small smile and shy look you threw my way.
The ring in my pocket was burning a hole through the pocket lining into my leg, as it adamantly told me not to wait. My mind kept insisting that I should have asked you sooner. It did not have to be this perfect, it did not really matter in the end where we were, or what we were doing when you agreed to spend your every future living moment with me.
There were some chances before, when I could have asked you, chances that I threw away, because I wanted it all to be just right.
You came into my life when I was alone, with not another person to call my own. You mended the broken shreds of my heart. You lovingly sewed the torn edges together. When there were moments when I wondered how I would get through the night, you were there to comfort me, to hold me close. One look in your eyes anchored me, made me feel safe from the turmoil surrounding me.
When the clouds burst and dropped their contents down upon the earth, and the raindrops ran down the wind-shield in a waterfall of orange hues from the overhead lights, I glanced toward you and you smiled happily. The first girl I ever met who got excited when she saw the flashing of lightning across the horizon, saw dark clouds threatening to darken a blue summer sky. You loved the rain, and because of you, I loved it too.
In my rear-view mirror I saw the bright glaring headlights of the truck behind us, come too close. The sudden light brightened the interior of the car and sucked the colour out of everything.
I opened my mouth to complain that the truck driver was not keeping his or her following distance, but my words were too slow.
The truck hit into the back of my little car, slammed it forward and for a moment it lost its grip on gravity.
From the corner of my eye I saw you jerk against the constraints of the safety harness around your body. Your body went sideways and your head made a loud, explosive noise when it connected with the window on your side. The rain washed down that same window like teardrops.
I felt the edges of the ring box in my pocket bite into my leg painfully. My hands momentarily became disconnected with the steering wheel. I felt the car slide sideways, it twirled and then it came to a shuddering, immediate stop against the grey concrete barrier.
Dazed I looked across the small space that separated us and you were looking out of the window to your side silently. Pushing my hand against your arm softly, I asked, “Julie, are you okay?”
You did not reply.
Fumbling with the clasp of my safety belt I was relieved when I heard it pop, and with shaky legs I climbed out of the car.
I looked across the highway and I counted seven cars at different angles and the truck stopped dead centre in the middle of the road, the cabin jack-knifed next to the trailer.
Slowly I walked around the car to your side, but the car was pushed against the barrier, so I went back to my side of the car.
The rain plastered my hair to my skull and the water dripped from my nose and my chin as I leaned across the seat to you. Folding my hand around your cheek, to get you to look at me, to assure you that we had survived, your head turned effortlessly to me.
Your big blue eyes looked yellow in the glare of the high mast amber light. You looked at me without seeing me.
Frantically I called your name, while you continued to only stare at me wordlessly.
You were dead and fifteen seconds ago, you were all I had.
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