We drove down the crowded street that led home from work. I was in the passenger seat of my 97’ Geo Metro, otherwise known as the “Beanpod” and the most fragile car I had ever driven. I wasn’t driving because it was stormy. Vegas storms meant heavy unpredictable rain that you could hardly see through and nonstop lightning. I was terrified of the storm itself and especially of driving in it, so I let myself get talked into riding shotgun instead.
As we made our way down the road, the storm continued, maybe even worsened. The entire sky lit up with lightning I could see out any window in any direction. The lightning itself fascinated me how it flashed as far as I could see, across the sky, and to the ground. It lit up and silhouetted the surrounding clouds otherwise disguised in the dark. The loud, sudden crack of thunder vibrated through my bones and made my teeth chatter.
I stayed anxious as we drove, watching the lightning overhead and attempting to stay calm. The car was quiet and we didn’t speak. There might have been quiet music playing, but probably not. It was a straight shot home with no more than five minutes left to drive. We passed the gas station and approached the street with the Dottie’s on the corner; the same Dottie’s that lay on every corner like a fast food chain where people go to gamble in peace and buy cheap cigarettes. The area was dark, but the road was lit and there were no cars around us.
A truck pulled up perpendicular to the road we drove on. It inched forward and I watched. It inched forward again then continued into the road. I watched it with a certain curiosity, but there was no time to question it or point it out.
I might have let out a yell or I might have been silent, but I don't remember. Not a second later, the truck was no more than a few feet directly in front of my car. We must've been braking. I saw the wheel jerk to one side and I saw it fail to help us avoid the truck on the slippery road. It had been no more than a few seconds, yet it felt like eternity. I felt the impact, but somehow I didn’t. I saw the airbags deploy, but I didn’t see the collision. I was aware of the accident, yet unaware of my surroundings. I heard nothing and everything was still.
The first thing I became aware of was the pain in my left leg, then in my chest. I looked down to ensure that my leg was still intact, which it was. There was no blood and no signs of injury. I slowly came to a clear understanding of what happened. I might have been crying. I could feel tiny shards of broken glass on my tongue. Outside was the dark road, the pouring rain, the flash of lightning, and the clash of thunder I feared. Inside the car was the pain and an overwhelming cloud of anxiety.