Remember This by NiNamicality

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
A girl recalls a tragic accident she was involved in.

Submitted: October 17, 2015

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Submitted: October 17, 2015

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My name is Dana. I'm twenty-two years old, from West Virginia. Not long ago I was involved in a fatal accident that killed my two best friends, and permanently impaired another woman. I'm going to tell you my part of the story, or the only part that can be heard.

• • •

I'd known Tanya for five years. We met back in sixth grade on the first day of school. She was in my study group in English class. We both loved whatever boy band was popular at the time, and that was how we bonded. And we met Claudia during freshman year when she transferred. We all liked the same things, which was why we got along so well.

On the day of the accident, we decided that we were going to leave the school campus during lunch. It was against the rules to do that, but we felt like being rebels.

"Seatbelts, guys. I'm not starting this car until they're all on," Tanya said, with her arms folded across her chest. We all rolled our eyes at her and obeyed. My mom says she thanks God for that every day. I curse it.

Tanya maneuvered out of the school's parking lot extremely slow, not even pushing the gas pedal.

"Oh my god, you act like this is an Audi!" Claudia laughed from the backseat. "This car is worth, like, half a month of my paychecks from Sonic."

Tanya's car was a used, small sedan that maybe went 0-60 in a weekend. Our jabs about it were pure jealously though; it was a car—something that neither of us had.

"Shut up. At least I have a car, dummy." She stuck her tongue out at Claudia through the rearview mirror. We were all feeling the thrill of breaking the rules. It was fun. 

We were wanting to go the Steak 'n Shake, and to get there from our school, you had to take a short interstate route. It was no more than eight miles. It could've probably taken less than ten minutes to get there.

I pulled out from Tanya's backpack that was at my feet her cell phone, tapping in her security code. She had a recent text message from a guy that she wouldn't admit she liked. I opened it and read it out loud.

It was stupid. " 'Hey, Tan. I heard from somebody that you thought I was cute. Is that true?' Oh my God. We need to reply to him!"

Tanya had been sputtering for me to stop the whole time I'd been reading, and tried to grab her phone from me.

"Yes!" Claudia screamed. Tell him that it's true and you need to go out ASAP!"

"Great idea, Claud. Let's see…" I'd noticed we were drifting into another lane while I was typing on her phone, but I didn't think it had mattered.

"I'm serious, Dana. Give me my phone back, for real." She was still laughing, so I didn't relent. 

" 'Yeah, you are cute. Wanna come over this Sat?' " My thumb hovered over the Send button.

"Dana, I swear."

"Annnd…"

"No!" 

Tanya frantically lunged for the phone in my hands, jerking the steering wheel with her.

The next moment was when my life came to a standstill. I probably don't even have the right to say that, since three other people's lives actually did come to a standstill.

Once Tanya realized what had happened, she dug her foot into the brake and veered the steering wheel sharply in the opposite direction—in the path of a white SUV. That was the last clear image I saw before we were tumbling over and over and over. I'd closed my eyes. I could still hear. I heard Claudia and Tanya screaming. I heard the shattered glass whirring around the car. I heard the tires from the SUV skidding across the road. I heard our song still playing on the radio. And I heard the sound cars make when they're ripped apart by asphalt and smashed by a concrete median.

I blacked out. Then what felt like seconds later I was the first to wake up. No—I was the only one to wake up. I didn't move at all, for maybe a minute, and stared ahead. My eyes felt swollen, so I was actually squinting. My head and my chest hurt like crazy. And I couldn't feel my lips. What was left of the car was against the median, and my half of it was in the air. My hair was sweaty, or bloody, or both, and it was in my face.

Everything seemed silent. I knew there were still cars flying by on the other side of the barrier, but I didn't hear them. I didn't hear my friends either.

Cautiously, I turned my neck to the left. Tanya was still there. Her legs and arms and head were hanging limp against the frame where her door should have been. The contracted airbag sat in her lap. Her eyes were closed, and I assumed she was only unconscious like I'd been.

I remember that I felt something like relief when I saw that her body was in one piece.

My neck hurt too much to turn all the way to see the backseat. And I was still restrained by my seatbelt, which was digging into my skin. By then I'd started crying. The tears blurred what little vision I had. I was still feeling that sense of vertigo, like everything that happened that day was an amazing dream gone awry. Eventually I heard distant shouting, and then someone trying to open the passenger door, rocking the car in his efforts. It was melded shut.

I became hysterical when the man outside the car asked if everyone was okay. Tanya and Claudia hadn't woken up yet. It was then that I realized that they could be dead.

I answered for all of us with my false hopes. "No!" My voice was hoarse. I think I'd also been screaming earlier.

"Okay! We've got an ambulance on the way and we're gonna try to open the car, okay?"

The more I sobbed the more I hurt, and vice versa. It felt like hours before I heard any trace of a siren. Then more shouting. More sirens. I half-yearned for the quietness from before. 

I don't remember how long it took for them to open the car; I kept going in and out of consciousness. When they opened it, they took me out first because I was awake. I watched the car and the tons of people around it as they put me on a stretcher and kept telling me not to move. 

There is one thing I'll never forget. Because you've probably noticed I don't remember some of the exact details of what happened. And one day, maybe twenty or forty years from now, I won't retain any of it. But one thing that I know will always recollect is a man's actions at the accident. He went inside the car… about a minute after they took me away from it, and then he came back out. He was shaking his head the whole time, and the look on his face was nothing other than pure horror. I knew. My mom told me later at the hospital that Tanya and Claudia hadn't made it, but I already knew.

Nobody gave me any information on the driver of the SUV until sometime after I was released from the hospital. It was a woman named Adrianne Bautista on her way to pick up her 6-year-old son for a doctor's appointment. In the accident, while we were flipping in front of her car, she did the exact same thing Tanya did: stomp her brake. The front fender of her car still made heavy contact with us. In that year, the manufacturer of her car was recalling vehicles due to some faulty airbags. Strange how what I thought was the most important secondary safety aspect of a car managed to go overlooked when those cars were approved. 

Mrs. Bautista's body hit her steering wheel at fifty-five miles per hour, and her skull cracked against her windshield. They said the exact name for her most significant injury is a "cerebral contusion." Her brain tissue had been severely damaged, and she was in a coma for a little over a week. After she woke up, she couldn't remember a lot of things: like the accident, when her birthday was, or that her son could talk.

I expected to be arrested for what I did—after I told everyone. I caused the accident; why shouldn't I be put away? But they said to me that it was all "an unfortunate proceeding of events," and "you shouldn't blame yourself for what Tanya couldn't control at her skill level."

I walked away with nothing. Yes, I have scars. I have nightmares. I have infinite guilt, too. But that is nothing in comparison to not having your daughter tell you they love you every morning, or wondering why your wife doesn't remember your wedding day, or losing the only person you care most about in this world.

I live with these things, because it's the only way I can keep going. If anybody could learn anything from this, it would be to… practice safe driving, maintaining focus on the road. And—God—don't distract the driver. You might just end up being a tragic story on the evening news.


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