Guest Post: Smoke and Glass
I feel like I’ve killed my grandmother or something. My parents mope around the house sighing and staring at each other meaningfully over steaming cups of tea. “This girl,” their eyes say, “who is she?” Surely this cannot be the small doll-like child that we introduced into the world. The one who could make anyone laugh with her big eyes and Disney-like wonder. Everyone loved that child; she was bright, pure, happy, and intelligent. Who is this raccoon-eyed teenager who glares and gets Bs and insists on wearing wrinkled tank tops and sweatpants around the house? “Where did we go wrong?”
And now the car…it was less a car than our fourth family member. This was the car that had driven me home from the hospital. We had joked that it was indestructible. But as it filled up with smoke and I feared for my life, desperately tugging the key out of the ignition thinking “I’m going to die in these tan seats,” I knew it was the end. Looking at the broken glass and deflated airbags and my own panicked reflection in the side mirror, I swore I would not die with that car. I rolled out of the driver’s seat and lay on the asphalt, breathing heavily, looking up at the smoke spiraling up into the bright blue sky.
The car sat diminished. Crunched over the crumbling white mailbox. Stupid squirrel. More like, stupid me. Who the fuck runs into a concrete mailbox? Only the substance-abusing spawn of the bourgeoise and irresponsible dumb girls. I had never considered myself one of either group. But now I was.
I sprinted home, and punched the doorbell, grabbing my startled looking mother crying, “I wrecked the car, I’m so sorry, I don’t know what happened.” She said the thought crossed her mind when she heard the noise and knew when the doorbell rang. “The most important thing is that no one got hurt,” she gamely repeated, comforting herself as much as the blubbering mess that was me. “Are you hurt?” she challenged. “No,” I whispered. But I had almost died–I could feel it in the mixture of adrenaline and blood pumping in my temples and at the base of my throat. In the smoke, rolling out of the car, sobbing with relief as I sucked in breaths of sweet air, I thanked whatever had spared me–the tree, God, the car, I’m not sure what. I won’t tell my parents because they don’t need to know how close it was. I won’t tell them because they shouldn’t have to know and I’m scared they’d never let me out of their sight. I won’t tell them because they are still mourning the loss of our fourth shiny black relative.
– written by: Mallika
Cars are deceptively hard to drive when young. Despite being consistently conscientious, I effortlessly glided into many dumb mistakes when I was 16 and 17. Afterwards, I had no ability to figure out what I did wrong. I couldn’t even correct in retrospect! By 21 or so I still had the same attitude and approach to driving. But I was somehow a FAR better driver. I now had no ability to figure out what I was doing right.
It probably comes with more experience, and sometimes, in my own experience, I find that being overly worried and observant can be detracting from my driving ability. Thanks for reading!
Love this! Vivid imagery and completely hits home foranyone who was ever a nervous, but conscientious teenage driver!