Since You Happened by Holly Hall
Silence. You would think it’s quiet, but it is so, so loud. It presses thick and close over everything like a woolen blanket.
A trickle of something trails down the side of my face from my temple. When I wipe it away, it leaves a smear of something dark on my fingers. The sight of it brings everything spinning back into my mind like a bicycle wheel that’s just been disturbed.
The crunch of ice on the road.
The squeal of the tires as they struggled to gain purchase. A sickening, gliding feeling when they lost their grip on the asphalt.
Then the foreboding sight of oncoming headlights.
“Stop stop stop!” I had shrieked, my foot pressed down so hard I was positive it would bust through the floorboards.
The sickening crunch of metal on metal. The feeling of spinning. The screeching of tires. Then . . . nothing but silence.
I feel something cold and wet graze my face, and I peek through my lashes. It’s snowing. I used to love snow, but I somehow know I’ll never think of it the same way again after this night. My mind is struggling to comprehend what’s happening, but the realization dawns on me that my life will never be the same.
I’m confused that I feel the snowflakes. After all, I’m in a car. It’s almost as if the top is down, but I don’t have a convertible, and I wouldn’t be riding around with the top down in the middle of November even if I did.
Blackness encroaches on the edges of my vision; just keeping my eyes open is an exhausting feat. I blink once, twice, and each time, my eyes are slower to open again. Finally, they stay closed. I don’t see anything else, but I think I hear a moan of agony somewhere outside. It’s hard to make out, but it almost sounds like an animal dying.
Before I fully succumb to the blackness, one last coherent thought flickers through my mind. No, that’s not an animal. That’s a man.