I saw her again.
This time I was driving, clocking well over eighty and that feeling–god that feeling–it passed over me like a shadow. This tremble goes up my spine and I put all my effort towards focusing on the road. My hands start to hurt from the grip on the wheel.
Like always, I couldn’t stop it. I start looking around at the cars around me.
To my right an older gentleman, his head full of gray and face speckled by the sun. He was hunched over, peering at the road rather than actually seeing it. He looked lonely.
In front of me, the soccer mom’s staple mini-van. A liquorish red with stickers of her children dotting the back window. Pride shines through the dust laden paint.
And on my left was her. It’s always her.
She was there, all blonde and beautiful in that little, blue car. Her windows were down and she was singing. Some new pop song, most likely. She wore that slim lime green tank top; her nails painted to match. A miniature teddy bear dangled from the rearview mirror, ever so often colliding with a newly added tassel from her graduation. ’05 is what it said.
She was so carefree, so young. A new glowing light, dancing to the rhythmic traffic of a city.
The fleeting feeling of peace fades with me when I remember what happens. I had seen this too many times before. Over and over it plays in my head.
I motion to her. I scream at her. I plead with her. But she can’t hear me. She never does.
The pretty blonde smiles for an instant. And at the end of that moment she barrels into the back end of the stopped car in front of her.
Time speeds up then as that little blue car is crunched with her in it. A shockwave of forces spreads through the cars in line, totaling more than her. But she’s all that matters.
Dead instantly. From the bloody carnage of her that was left tangled in that metal jungle, I wanted to desperately believe it. I could never live knowing if she went through worse pain. If she thought about me in her last breathe. If she called for me and I wasn’t there.
An officer handed me the only pieces left intact the day after. I cried when I saw that bear and tassel. They were gifts from her mother and I. Gifts that we had given her just two days before.
My beautiful daughter was gone. Her life lost to a congested, unforgiving world. And a future robbed from me.