Day 16: Write about anything. Tell the story of a day, or of years…(See description for details.)
Write about anything. Tell the story of a day, or of years, or of a failed diet, or of an awesome road trip, or of someone else entirely. Maybe go somewhere you like to go (a coffee shop, a park, the beach, the lot behind 7-11) to describe it. Just use the right verbs while you write: remain mindful of how often you use “to be” verbs (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been), and instead choose the right metaphor-verbs in every poem-of-a-sentence.
The following piece is fictional. Please don’t send me condolence letters. Thanks :)
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Such is the mantra of kids who get bullied and need a way to combat the bullies. But the broken bones I had were much easier to bear than the words I heard on the evening of my 21st birthday.
He was driving me to what I had figured to be my surprise birthday party, having a good laugh. Then when we crossed Main Street, the world turned upside down.
I remember that moment clearly. One moment we’re laughing; the next moment, we’re spinning. Everything happened as if time had slowed down. The airbags popped out and Gerry’s head bounced off the bag before hitting the window, and my own head hit the bag and lurched sideways. The entire world spun around me as the other car pushed ours.
My neck hurt, but I felt fine. I looked at the shattered window, and then at Gerry, whose head was resting against the window. After struggling with my airbag, I managed to shake his shoulder and shout his name. He did not respond. I shook his shoudler again, shouting more loudly. He did not respond. I fumbled with my seatbelt then burst out of the door, stumbling onto the pavement. I looked at one bystander and yelled at him to call 911. He retrieved his phone and dialed immediately.
I limped to the car that hit us. Through the broken window I could see the driver, who did not seem to be awake. I tried to open the door from the outside but it was locked. I reached into the car and shook the man’s shoulder to see if he would wake up. Shouting accomplished nothing.
Another bystander approached me, asking me if I was okay. I told her I felt fine but that my boyfriend was in the car, locked in because the other car had hit his door. She put her arm around me and tried to comfort me. I coudn’t pay attention to what she was saying because I was in such a daze. I couldn’t believe this was happening.
When the ambulance finally arrived, I was in hysterics. I told them that my boyfriend was trapped in the car, unconscious. The medics told me to calm down and that they needed to check me for wounds. It took two men to hoist me onto the stretcher and restrain me. I demanded that they tend to my boyfriend first, but they insisted on taking care of me.
They wheeled me into the ambulance and I can’t remember what happened after they put the respirator on me.
After an hour in the hospital, I was told that as a result of the crash, I had broken two ribs and required 9 stitches on my face from the shards of glass slashing me. I didn’t care about any of that. I asked the doctors and nurses what happened to Gerry. They all hesitated and said they didn’t know, but that they would get someone who did know to tell me.
Finally, one doctor sat at the foot of my bed, looked at me, and sighed. Then he uttered three words that made my broken bones seem painless.
“Gerry is dead.”
Sadness overcame me and my eyes welled up with tears. I told myself it wasn’t possible. That Gerry was in the next room, recovering just like I was. I told myself that we would emerge from the hospital together, broken, but together. I told myself that I would be able to come home and see his smiling face, and feel his warm embrace.
But the void in my heart told me that none of that was true. He was not recovering. We would not emerge from the hospital together. And he would never again be able to wrap me in his arms. I knew the truth. Gerry was dead.
I thought it was my fault. If I hadn’t chosen to have my surprise birthday party on that day, none of this would have happened. If I had chosen to drive, perhaps I could have seen the car coming towards us and stop. If I had decided to have a small, intimate celebration with Gerry, then we wouldn’t have to be on the road at all.
Despite all the self-blame, I knew that there’s nothing I could do then to bring him back. Yet I wished I was able to say goodbye properly. I wished I could have savored that last hug for just five more seconds. I wished I didn’t say those mean things to him the previous week. So many regrets, but nothing I could do to come to terms with them.
I always think about what life could be if the crash had never happened. I think about the kids we could have had. The house we could have lived in. The life we would be living together. But then those three words echo in my head, “Gerry is dead.” My broken bones healed eventually, but nothing will ever be able to mend the wound those three words caused.