The next morning I had essentially forgotten about the newspaper. I whipped myself up a nice ‘sore throat’ sounding voice and called into work. After I had assured them that I would take care of myself and try to be in tomorrow, I took my shower. When I got out, I saw she had texted me. I toweled off quickly, and picked up my phone, but the color drained from my face as I read her message.
Her car wouldn’t start and she was waiting for the AAA guy to arrive. She’d try to be over in an hour or so, but if the car had to be towed to the mechanic, I might have to come get her.
All I could think of was the AAA guy doing something horrible to her, too horrible for words, too horrible to print in the newspaper! I replied I was coming right over so she wouldn’t have to wait alone. That didn’t sound paranoid at all, right?
It still took me half an hour to dress and do my hair, and by then the coffee was done. I grabbed my purse and double-checked that I had my keys before locking the door.
The speed limit through town was twenty-five. I did forty, except along that one stretch where I knew the cop always waited. I was almost to her house when I realized I hadn’t put any make up on, and it was unthinkable to be found outside the house without a touch of make-up. I dug the lipstick out of my purse and pulled down the sun visor with the mirror on the back.
My sister used to always criticise me for putting lipstick on while I was driving, but it wasn’t like it took all that much concentration. I had been doing it for years. The hint of red made me look more normal again, and I put the visor up and turned into her driveway as I tried to put the lipstick back into my purse.
It missed the pocket and fell to the floor. I reached down quickly to snatch it before it rolled under the seat, only to sit back up and realize there was no time to stop before I slammed into the back of her stalled car in the middle of the driveway.
Her car lurched forward, and I heard a scream. I had to fight with my seatbelt before I managed to get out of my car and run to see what had happened.
She was crushed between her front bumper and the edge of the garage. I pushed with all my might, and her car rolled back, bumping into mine again as her body crumpled to the concrete. A thousand years passed in that moment, each second longer than the last. My hands were shaking as I dialed 911, somehow managing to make the person who answered understand through my screams about ‘she needs an ambulance’, and ‘I hadn’t seen her!’
A minute later, the tow truck pulled into the driveway, slammed into the back of my car, pushing hers forward again. Her bumper clipped me as I fell back out of the way, and all I could think of in that moment was how it wasn’t meant to be me – words which haunted me through the manslaughter trial as I was forced to stare into the face of her fiance and four year old daughter and explain why I was trying to pick my lipstick off the floor.
Remember this story? Ha! I told you I’d finish it someday.
I need a break from the other one for a bit. It’s getting to be more stress than it’s worth for the moment. I’ll finish it, too (just like this one) but if I post other stuff in the mean time, y’all aren’t gonna show up with torches and pitchforks, right?