Shared Moments of Silence

I totaled my car.

I saw the sign for a small town called Vader on a rural highway that I had never traveled on before. It seemed slower and more cautious.

I totaled my car.

I drove carefully past each curve, appreciating the dense forest and how my music choice complimented the atmosphere. It was moody darkwave and I was surrounded by shades of gray, blue and green.

I totaled my car.

Everything happened so fast. It’s intriguing how time speeds up to an unrecognizable measure when you think you are experiencing something significant. I swerved and couldn't keep my car on the road. I hit the first tree and continued to smash through the forest. I hit the second tree and that’s when my vehicle stopped moving. I threw myself out of the car, along with all of my belongings I didn’t want to be destroyed. I was convinced that my car would blow up in flames. Once I got to the end of the road, I looked back at the mess and waited for an explosion. There was nothing, so I called my mom.

“I totaled my car.”

It took two hours for another driver to stop. I had arranged a tow service long before and was sitting in the cold, alternating between the road and the inside of my vehicle. I wondered how long my body could take before completely freezing over. I wondered what I would even do next. I wondered about time and my new year's resolutions and how that fit in with this new hurdle. My smashed car and I were surrounded by ice, yet there was no blood. There was no chaos. It was quiet.

A couple in a truck were the first to stop and stay with me. I told them I was going to be just fine and that someone was coming soon. I didn't want to inconvenience any strangers, especially in the middle of nowhere.

The woman shouted from her car, “I wouldn't leave my daughter out here.”

I automatically responded with tears. They parked their truck behind me and I cautiously walked over. Once I climbed into their cab, the woman took my hand. She felt how cold I was and put the heat on blast. We introduced ourselves to each other even though it felt silly to do so. We already knew who we were in that moment. Eventually, the sheriff pulled up, we all jumped out of the warmth together.

Both of the officers had calming dispositions and offered the backseat of their truck so I wouldn’t freeze again. I was warned about how uncomfortable the seats were. Upon sensing my nerves, the younger officer met my eyes through the rearview mirror:

“Don’t worry, you’re not under arrest.”

The older sheriff came over and offered me his peanut butter sandwich that his wife had made for him that morning. I told him, “thank you, but I don’t have an appetite”. I watched them both go through the motions, motions I’m sure they were blithely used to. I was not. The tow truck came and we all went to greet the driver.

“I’m Cliff, and I’m your rescuer!”

Once on the road, Cliff and I talked about so many things, things I never would’ve imagined would be unveiled under the guise of a conversation between a tow truck driver and a person in need. He told me about the best road he’s ever experienced: a bright red road in the middle of nowhere, Montana. We talked about his lack of vacation time. We talked about his upbringing. a Native American reservation in Washington. He assured me that my car would stay on his truck every time I looked over my shoulder to check. I almost didn’t want it to. Both of us knew that I would never drive it again.

The shared moments of silence felt as exposing as the moments when we were talking about ourselves. I stared out the window at the landscape of the highway I was so familiar with. This time, the landscape was different.

Cliff escorted me to the shop where I was I was to find out my car’s fate. We said goodbye to each other when we knew all business and emotional ties had been fulfilled. I stared at my ruins amongst the lot of other people’s ruins. I never wanted to see it again.

written spring 2017

edited by Androo Lane Meyers