As I walked away from the metal carcass that used to be my car, I had wondered why I wasn’t shaking. Previous to this I had never been in a car accident. I had always thought that someone who’d just gone through an accident would be pretty worked up. I should either have been filled with adrenaline and shaking, or else hysterical and shaking. And yet I was neither. I was calm.
My hand had been bleeding from multiple small cuts and I remember using my other hand to catch the blood. I hadn’t wanted to stain the white carpet. I also had a bump on my head, but I was fairly lucid at the time and I’d even managed to get myself out of the upside down car without any help.
The entire time that I’d sat in the kitchen, as the nice old lady called 911, I wondered about my calmness. I used my mind to assess my emotions just as when the car screeched to a halt I had assessed my body for damage. The calm I had felt did not feel forced nor for that matter did it seem to be so extreme as to dull my thoughts.
Cautiously I went back over what had happened from the beginning of the accident until its end. I was able to recall all the details perfectly, except for one moment.
After the car had stopped sliding down the road, I had been hanging upside from my seat and the ceiling of the car was now the ground. I needed to get my seatbelt undone to get to the ground. I remembered the clicking sound of the seatbelt coming apart but I couldn’t remember falling down unto the ceiling. I could remember being on the ceiling and deciding which window to crawl out of. I had chosen the driven window because it had been helpfully smashed out. That split-second of falling from my seat onto the ceiling however was gone; I couldn’t seem to remember it at all.
Again and again, I replayed the crash in my mind but to no avail. That moment continued to elude me.
The kind old lady asked me for my home number and called my mother. For a minute I felt awful because I knew that when my Mom saw what was left of the car, she would be terrified at the thought that I had been in it. At first all I could think about was how scared she would be. However my next feeling was happiness. The calm had finally lifted and I was feeling emotions again! I had managed to feel guilty. However, right upon the heels of that guilt came the numbness once more.
I decided to decline a ride in the ambulance as I hadn’t been badly hurt. Mom came and sure enough her face was pale as a ghost when she saw me. Eventually the police walked in to see me sitting in the kitchen and drinking a glass of water. The one officer asked me a few questions and ultimately the accident was ruled to have been simply an accident. What was left of the car was towed away and within an hour it had been cubed. Mom drove me home. It was all over fairly quickly.
Months passed and I had to go into the hospital to have some pieces of glass removed from my hand. Bits of the shattered driver’s window had gotten into the cuts without anyone noticing. My hand was numbed with the help of a giant needle and a scalpel cut the chips out. Throughout the little operation, I was calm. Still I did not shake.
I didn’t know why, but I kept thinking that if only I could recall that one lost moment of falling then the terrible calmness would recede and I would surely, finally begin to shake.
That day still hasn’t come and the numbing calm still cannot be shaken.
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