We sped onto the highway, me and my family, as we were eager to get home after a weekend at my grandmother’s. I don’t particularly remember what happened that weekend, but my parents told me I had fun. It wasn’t too young to remember either because I remembered vividly what happened next. It seemed like any other trip as we rode along the highway, me not paying attention to the outside and playing with my Game Boy I had got a year earlier.
I still have the thing as it can survive most anything…
Out of nowhere, a motorbike driver came into our lane and crashed on the front of our car. The windshield shattered and the motorbike driver flipped over the car and crashed behind us. Luckily he didn’t land in the other lane.
I was frozen in fear at the initial crash, what else could you do, especially as a child? But I believe that is how most people would react no matter their age – when you’re not in control. Indecently, my father had the wheel and he turned into the railing. I had never lost my breath so hard since that day – it was like all the air escaped my body and I gasped desperately to refill my lungs.
My parents had a similar reaction because it took them awhile to stumble out of the car and check on me. I remember the eyes of fear and blood trickling over my father’s face. He didn’t take note of his own injury and asked if I was all right. I answered weakly that I was. My mother lifted me from my seat and we leaned against the car while my father hurried to the motorbike driver.
My father told, years later, that the helmet had saved the driver’s life and was the only thing that had held his brains together. I’m glad he didn’t share that detail with me at the time. There wasn’t much my father could do for the driver, however, but he remained by his side even though he was the cause of the accident. We heard later that, apparently, one of the bolts to the back wheel had been missing; a mechanic supposedly forgot to put it together and the wheel came loose on the road.
It took a while before I could express my fears as I was still in shock; but the tears eventually welled, out of nowhere and I bawled loudly in my mother’s arms. She let me cry as much as I wanted. She told me later that she wanted to cry too, but I cried for the both of us. The police came before the ambulance and they must’ve heard there was a family involved in the accident because one of them gave me a teddy bear, fresh out of the wrapper. It’s apparently common practice in Holland and still is.
It’s probably a good practice… It did comfort me a little.
I still have it somewhere in a trunk at my parents, along with all the other childhood items I kept. It took a long while before I relinquished that bear – longer than I care to admit. It invoked such strong feelings whenever I saw it – conflicting feels that I did not understand, at the time. But, whenever I did recall that horrible day, it never let the bear escape my embrace.
© Christopher Stamfors
I post Short Stories every week. Please check out my other fictions HERE.