It’s snowing inside my car.
The impact is so fast. Time does not stop or slow down the moment before collision, but it does achieve a diamond-cut clarity: there is one vast second in which I know I will hit the car in front of me and that there is nothing in the world that can stop that from happening now. I think I say something. I can hear the sound of my own brakes.
It’s night. Traffic is light. I’m leaving work, and I’m on my way to pick up my daughter. I have worked eleven hours and I’m tired. My feet hurt. I’m distracted by my own life. I know what to change and I know how to do it but I’m trying to decide if I care enough. I am negotiating terms of surrender with forces much greater than myself. In recent days I have come to see myself clearly, and I am displeased. Is there time to change anything? Is there sufficient impetus? Is there a point?
I watch the radiant green sign of a gas station approaching on my left. It’s as dreary and mundane a signpost as one could find, but, with all that light, it’s unaccountably beautiful. It’s a jewel in the darkness.
I turn my head back to the road and there’s a car stopped in the lane, waiting to make a left turn.
And it’s over.
The car in front of me, a Mercedes, is propelled forward by the hit, and drifts to a halt across the intersection.
And it is snowing in my car.
Dust from the airbags. The one in front of me has abraded my arm and I can feel, distantly, its sting. The windshield is cracked, and I watch my own arm, seemingly guided by another entity, reach forward to put the car in park. Tomorrow I will limp so badly that I will not be able to match my daughter’s walking pace, but right now I am out of the car and running as fast as I can toward the car I hit, its brakes casting red light in a bloody wash onto the street. I have seen no movement. I know there will be carnage inside.
I think, I am going to go to jail.
The driver of the other car powers her window down and she looks at me. “Did you hit me?”
I want to laugh. It’s an absurd question. But we’re always reduced to absurdity when we realize that our throats are bare to whatever it is out there that wants to kill us.
No one is hurt. The cars are damaged but roadworthy. We drive into the gas station and exchange information. Series of numbers, names, insurance agencies. We wait for the police. Everyone is civil, and by the time we go our separate ways there are handshakes and kind words.
I get back in the car and drive. The lights flow by. The night is huge.
I think, You missed. I think, Is that the best you can do?
I think, Come for me, you motherfucker.