Musings On A Close Call | By Aysel Atamdede
There’s nothing quite like the moment when your heart actually skips a beat, when you sit there helpless as two tons of steel and rubber screech on the asphalt and the brake pedal is flat against the bottom of the car as you try to go from 75 to 0 in four seconds, when you hear the crunch and feel the jolt as someone hits you from behind, when your hands are gripping the wheel so tightly your fingers go white.
There’s nothing like that feeling of dread as you hope against hope your car isn’t totaled, when you pull over and get out to take a look and see the flat tire and the cracked light and the warped trunk, when you look up to see who hit you and it’s your best friend’s car sitting on the shoulder with its side mirror missing and the driver’s door so dented it can’t even open.
There’s nothing like realizing you have to call your parents to tell them what happened, the insurance company to send someone to change your tire, and the police to report there’s been an accident. There’s nothing like standing on the side of that two-lane highway with the sun going down, the closest city still an hour away, and the temperature keeps dropping by the minute and you’ve barely got a quarter tank of gas left so you can’t sit in the car with the heater running for too long and you finally get off the phone with insurance to see your phone has nine percent battery left.
There’s nothing like sitting on the side of the road for two hours, waiting and hoping the tow truck and the police can find you when the only directions you can give are based off of a random traffic sign in the distance, while your friend sits in their car and does exactly the same thing. There’s nothing like standing there talking to the police after waiting for so long and it’s pitch black except for the headlights of passing cars and it’s so cold you can see your breath as you talk to the cop and hearing the screech of tires as two cars nearly collide not five feet from you, almost recreating your exact situation.
There’s nothing like finally getting your tire changed and the police report filed and your friend’s car door fixed and getting back in the car to head into the city to fill up on gas and calling your parents again to let them know you can still drive alright. There’s nothing like looking at the GPS and seeing you’ll arrive at your destination three hours later than you were supposed to and you’re physically and mentally and emotionally exhausted from the six – now nine – hour drive and you still have to unpack once you get there, constantly checking your rearview mirror to make sure your friend’s car is still following you but this time at a safer distance.
There’s nothing like finally arriving and getting all your things out of the car and into your room and standing there, staring at your friend, and it finally hits you that had you not swerved when you slammed on the brakes, had you taken even a split second longer to realize the car in front of you was getting too big too fast, it could have ended so much worse. There’s nothing like standing there and realizing you’re still alive, you’re okay. There’s nothing quite like finally feeling your heart slow down, for hours after the accident the feeling of relief that the only thing that was broken was your car, and realizing that while cars can be fixed easily, people can’t.
Aysel Atamdede holds a BA in English and a minor in Studio Art from Santa Clara University, and is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman. As an undergrad at SCU, she established the Imaginarium VR lab, teaching students to design, build, and publish 3d animations and video games. She is a writer and voice director for The Sketch Fellows, a podcast produced by her and her friends in their spare time, and is currently the Podcast Editor at Anastamos.