My Family Experienced a Deadly Car Crash (Log One)

Eight-forty on a Saturday evening.

They say that there are some moments in our life that we’ll remember for an eternity. Events that we find branded into our minds, whether we like it or not. We say that we recall these moments down to the minutest detail, and I can attest to that theory quite well. The clear water droplets plummeted from above, splashing onto the windshield. The cars traveled alongside my vehicle, their headlights illuminating the rain, and the night sky contained thousands of dazzling stars above.

Inhale.

My chest rose, my lungs taking in crisp air from the slightly opened window beside me. I turn my head, my eyes meeting with hers’, and then falling about her gorgeous teeth and her rose lips.

Exhale.

My gaze fixated on my rearview mirror, observing my young boy strapped firmly in the backseat, fast asleep.

Inhale.

My eyes grew as wide as the high beams flooded my vision. In an instant, I launched my foot toward the break, clenching my teeth hard, jaw locked firmly shut. The sound of metal colliding terrorized my ears, and my car’s momentum carried us forward. Glass shattered as the vehicle came to a violent halt, causing my body to jerk forward and my face to plant directly into the steering wheel. Two shrieks, one from beside me, and one from behind, erupted into the night. They died down as soon as they began, and suddenly there was no sound at all. My body was rendered immobile, and my eyesight faded away, yet my lips still functioned. They gently parted, but all I could squeak out was a measly “No…” before darkness overwhelmed me.

From that point on, I vaguely recall the noisy sound of bustling people and a white corridor. Beaming lights shone overhead, beckoning for me. I tried reaching out towards it, yet I could not move my arms. My eyes fluttered, and I once more drifted away into sleep.

I would stay in the hospital for several weeks, recovering from various fractures and undergoing multiple surgeries. My body ached, yet my physical pain could not compare to my worries about my family. Although I felt a relief like no other wash over me when the staff informed me that my son had survived, a familiar sense of dread later overtook me as I learned my wife was in critical condition. Those nights took an eternity to pass. I consistently glanced towards the clock on the wall clock, observing the hands tick by minute by minute. Tears would claw their way from my eyes at strange hours of the day, drenching my cheeks in moisture until my cheeks burned red, and the sweat forming in my palms dampened the bedsheets I clenched.

Each time one of the staff or doctors came into my room, my vision darted towards them. I knew they could read my mind. They would give me this this pitiful look when they looked into my pleading eyes. Every time I asked, they would give me the same non-answer.

“I assure you, Mister Johnson, we are doing our best to treat your wife.”

Every day I met with some variation of this response. Yet, I persisted, determined to hear that my wife would be okay. Until one day, one of the staff entered my room. Shakily standing up to greet him, I grinned and extended my arm towards his. That’s when I noticed the sullen look plastered on his face, and my heart descended below my chest. He spoke calmly, methodically, each word exiting his lips in slow motion. My knees quivered, lightly at first, and then more rapidly as he continued. As they eventually buckled, I collapsed to the floor, my chest furiously heaving, each breath I took growing more exasperated than the last.

Several people restrained me and placed me back onto my bed. I think they were trying to give me words of encouragement and sympathy in the process, but whatever they said blended into an incoherent mess. The men and women beside me blurred into unrecognizable forms, and I stared straight ahead. The abhorrently foul stench of perspiration dripping from every orifice of my body dug into my nose and pricked my eyes. My mind, blank as a paper, grew weary, and I finally gave in to the staff attempting to keep me still.

The nurses helped clean me up shortly following that outburst. After receiving fresh clothing and given time and space to come to terms with the news, my nurse escorted me to the lobby. There he stood, waiting for me. I rushed towards him as quickly as possible. Stooping down, I embraced him, resting my chin on his scalp and gently patting his back. He buried his head into my chest. My shirt moistened, and I held him even closer.

He knew.

Before we left the hospital, I received a few recommendations for psychiatrists and therapists in my area. After thanking the staff for all their help, my son and I took the bus back to our neighborhood later that night. We had baked chicken with rice that night, but he just sat there, poking his food with his fork. Sighing, I finished my plate, hoping it would inspire him to do the same. Instead, he pushed his dish away from him, in front of where an empty chair stood before the table. I knew he wouldn’t budge, but I knew the hospital had been keeping him healthy and nourished. I told him he should go to bed and get some rest, and he obliged, hopping up from his seat and making his way to his room. After he crawled in bed, I tucked him in and asked if he’d like me to sleep in his room for the night. He nodded his head, rejecting my offer. I bent down and kissed his forehead, wishing him a good night.

I opened my laptop and researched the therapy centers cited in the pamphlet I received earlier. I grimaced when I read the costs for each one. My wife made money along with me for our family. That, combined with the opportunity cost forfeited by my hospital stay, took immediate therapy out of the question. Sighing, I closed the computer and treader over to my bedroom.

Placing my palm against the wooden door, I traced my fingers along its perimeter until they met the cold brass knob. Counting down from five, I forced myself to open the door upon reaching zero. I set foot into the room, flicking the lightswitch upward. As the bulb cast its light onto dull, grey walls surrounding me, I mustered the courage to set one foot in front of the other. Making my way over to the oak frame of my queen-sized bed, I looked down upon the blankets before me. The bed felt so different.

It felt so empty.

Beside the bed sat a beige dresser, with a picture frame placed atop it. There stood a man and his soulmate, their faces beaming with glee. Feeling the tears trickling down my cheeks, I glanced back toward the bed, realizing I was dampening the sheets while I wept. Breathing in deeply, I turned and exited the room with haste. Retreating to the living room, I positioned myself on the couch, and after a few hours of tossing and turning, my body finally shut down and let me rest.

I didn’t recognize where I was. All I knew was that pure light surrounded me, overloading my senses. My mouth opened, yet I didn’t make a sound. I extended my arm, groping ahead of me for whatever surface I could find. My fingers were met with… a wheel.

The sound of an engine roared from somewhere within the light. Tires swerved, and voices shrieked.

Bang.

Metal tearing into metal. Incoherent, shrill cries produced from the back of the car. Was this truly happening again? My head jerked forward with the momentum of the vehicle. The commotion ceased as suddenly as it arrived, leaving me in a state of disarray. The cold night air seeped in through the shattered window, erecting the hairs on my arms. Everything was still.

It was a dream. I knew it was a dream. So why could I so vividly sense the beads of sweat trickling down my arms and pooling around my knuckles? How is it that a figment of my subconscious mind was able to do perfectly replicate the texture of the leather-coated steering wheel which I so desperately clung to? Internally, I knew that what would greet me if I were to shift my gaze to my right. Then I felt it. The round object slumped against my shoulder. The messy strands of hair against my arm. The warm liquid droplets falling and splashing against my hand.

I couldn’t even form a coherent thought before my attention shifted to the sudden weight pressed against my left shoulder. Five slender fingers held me in their grip. My head spun around in the opposite direction to observe who was touching me. Upon doing so, my gaze was met with an arm reaching through the shattered window. I tilted my head up, and before me stood a man. He stood tall, adorned with black jeans and a grey dress suit. His frame was much too small for his clothes, however. He appeared fragile and weak; the skin of his arms seemed to loosely stretch over the bone underneath. It was as if he would disintegrate if even the slightest force were applied to him.

Despite the situation around me, my body eased into the seat. I felt a sensation of relief wash over me. He carried an unexplainable aura of familiarity about him. Even despite his malnourished frame, even despite his lanky stature, even despite his face appearing to have been blurred out of existence entirely, I did not fear him. In fact, It almost depressed me that my encounter with him was brief, as awoke as soon as my eyes had scanned what should have been his face. It all happened so fast. I placed my hand on my left shoulder, running my finger tips along its surface. The imprint that would have been left by the man was not there. Of course it wasn’t. It was just a nightmare, after all.

I can’t say for certain I understand what I dreamt of that night. It all felt so real. I didn’t recognize the man I encountered either, so how could I possibly have felt such an intrinsic connection between him and I? Although I’m not sure what to make of it, I can’t help but get the sneaking suspicion that there’s more to this than I’m currently comprehending. After all, a dream is said to be a gateway into the subconscious. Whatever the case may be, I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated. Thank you for reading all I’ve had to say up to this point. I guess you can consider this log one of my experiences after the accident…

Speaking of which, please be sure to wish my boy and I well. We could use it right now. Thank you all.