Writing Prompt:

Ever have an experience that felt surreal, as though you’d been suddenly transported into the twilight zone, where time seemed to warp, perhaps slowing down or speeding up? Tell us all about it.  show us SURREAL.

When I was 16 years old I wrecked my mother’s new car. I was in the midst of High School drama, angry that a friend was supposed to meet me at her house but was not home, making me late to where I wanted to be. It was getting on towards dusk and I was driving too fast for comfort on twisty country roads. I came around a bend too close and had to swerve in order to miss an oncoming car. My car tires hit loose gravel on the side of the road and I lost control, heading for an embankment. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to think, I just braced my hands on the steering wheel so that I wouldn’t hit my head in the crash, and closed my eyes (it probably would have been helpful to hit the brakes, but hindsight is 20/20… ).

The car jolted and I felt a sharp pain in my lower back, then I heard a revving sound as I suddenly felt like I was riding on a roller-coaster. When the spinning sensation stopped and everything became quiet, I slowly opened my eyes. Sight and sound seemed muffled as I focused on my surroundings. I could see a small green light on the windshield that I realized was the gearshift itself; I was upside down. That seemed to kick-start everything into real time again and I found myself panicking, the most important thing in that moment was getting out of the vehicle! I undid my seat-belt and scrambled over to the passenger side door; the car was in a ditch and the driver’s side door was blocked. I had to push the passenger door up into the air, which felt impossibly heavy. I frustratingly pleaded for help, out loud, and the next thing I knew I was outside of the car, starring down the deserted tree-lined road.

My back hurt, I was scared, I didn’t know if I should start walking or wait. Time sped up again when I flagged down a car of older boys who refused to help me, and then another car soon after that turned out to be my absent friend. Time kept moving fast through the short ride to her house where I called my parents and back to the scene of the accident, this time with her grandfather in tow as he berated me for all teenagers and our reckless behavior. My parents showed up soon after.

Now I could cry, now I could give in to the pain in my back, now I didn’t have to think for awhile because my father was doing it for me. Time stopped altogether when I looked, really looked, at the car. “Mom,” I said, “Look what I did to your car!” She turned me away from the hustle and bustle that was happening around the scene and told me that it was just a car, I was more important. Time balanced out then, and I leaned on her for the rest of the ordeal.

I let my mother reprimand the police officer for bullying me, I let her push her way into the Emergency Room so that I wouldn’t be forgotten in the waiting room, I let her distract me when I had to get a painful shot in my hip, I let her convince the specialist that I would take my chances and not be put in a lower body cast for a fractured vertebrae, and then I let her bully me a few days later when she forced me to drive the rental car alone so that I would get over my fear sooner rather than later.

But time still seemed to stutter now and then when I saw that little green light of the gearshift reflected in the window at night.



2 thoughts on “Surreal

  1. My mom did something similar for me once (driving into an icy ditch, forcing me to get back in the car) and reading this made me smile. I’m glad you were okay, and this is a beautiful — if surreal — memory.


    1. I haven’t recounted this story, in full detail, for many years; it’s taken on a different tone because now I understand it more from my parent’s point of view 🙂


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