After experiencing a close call with a car crash, Chloe learns a secret many years later
|That party was amazing."
"Yeah too bad you won't remember most of it."
"Hey I didn't drink that much."
My best friend Ryan and I were just at an end of the year party. It was hosted every year and this was by far the best. Mostly contributing to this was that this time, there was alcohol. Yes I was only 16 and Ryan was 17 but a little rule breaking every once in a while was ok right? We were good most of the time.
It was late and I should have been home an hour ago. Ryan was offering to drive me. It would be so much faster but he had been drinking more than me and I was dizzy. I could only imagine how he was still standing. He saw me hesitate at his car door.
"Oh come on, you live five minutes away. Nothing could possibly go wrong."
"Fine, but only because my parents are probably going to ground me for a week for being this late."
As soon as I got in the car I could tell he wasn't in control. He was swerving too much, not concentrating, and blowing by stop signs and red lights. It was at the intersection, only a minute from my house when it almost happened. Ryan sped into the intersection and a car was coming at us too fast. Both cars could not have stopped, there wouldn't be time. I froze as I heard metal scraping against the back bumper. The other car had just hit us but no harm done. Except for the paint job. Ryan seemed to instantly sober up, apologizing every second for the rest of the way to my house. When he dropped me off he continued apologizing.
"Just drive carefully to your house, ok?"
"Yeah don't worry."
"Be safe." He drove away slowly and taking care to stop at every intersection. I worried even more when he was no longer in my sight.
I walked into my house and saw just enough of my parents to say that my phone had died and that I was sorry for being out too late. Not enough time for them to realize I had been drinking. That night, I went to bed with the sight of headlights coming closer towards me.
The next day I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. When I answered I realized it was Jason, my crush since third grade. He asked me out and after a much longer pause of shock that I'd care to admit, I answered yes. The next night I had another nightmare, only this time, the headlights came even closer. The fear of having another nightmare soon disappeared the more I got to know Jason. We talked every day and through the summer. The next year we had all the same classes. It was a relief to have someone who suffers the homework load along side you. It was even better with the one I loved. The last years of high school came and went. I had to come to terms that when summer ended I was going to college. I was scared. I admitted what others going off to college often deny, I was going to miss my family. For 19 years, my whole life, I had been under their protection and now I was being pushed out of the nest to the hard cold forest floor that was adulthood. Worse Jason and I were going to different colleges. He wanted to be lawyer and I wanted to be a vet. Colleges didn't exactly agree with teaching both subjects.
Summer came and went. I spent the little time I had left with Jason and my friends. I suffered through college's grueling lectures on animal anatomy and surgery procedures. Knowing that being a vet had been my dream since I was three helped me get through them. My reward wasn't the A, or more often the B grade. It was knowing that for the rest of my life I would be living my dream. After the close call car crash I worried more about enjoying life so living my dreams had become my first priority. I didn't realize it at first, but everything I did now involved me going out and doing what I wanted. I also succeeded in doing something throughout my whole college career what most students couldn't do for a week. I never drank. It had been 6 years of not picking up a single drink. I was proud but I also knew that I was smart. I was focused on living and I did not want it to end because I made a stupid decision.
I graduated college, excited to start the job I had gotten only days before. I was happy and shocked. I had heard way too many stories of students waiting years after college for a steady job. now I had one. My life had flown by without warning. Like so many other experiences this one came in a blur. My family and I went out for dinner after graduation and I went home with them. This time I was aware that I was going to stay. Jason was still at school. I had only seen him face to face three times since the summer before I started college. I would have a whole year of working at the local vet and reconnecting with friends before I would actually see him. In that year I mostly saw Ryan. He had been my best friend for as long as I could remember though the crash had distanced us. My reason was that every time I talked to him, I had another nightmare. Every time I spoke to him the headlights came closer. I feared the day they would make contact with the car. His reason, I think, was that he knew that it would have been his fault if anyone had died. If either one of the cars had been a fraction of a second later or earlier we would have been hit. At 65 miles per hour, that would have been deadly.
The day before Jason was supposed to come home rushed towards me. I was extremely excited. I realized that the person I had a crush on since the third grade might actually be the one. We loved each other and though we had had five very long years away from each other, we had called each other every day without fail. We really hadn't missed anything, except for each other’s faces. Sure that might sound a little corny but we hadn't seen each other in five years, who wouldn't get all mushy? When I saw his car pull into my driveway it took my ten seconds to get from my room to his car door. It took him less time to open his door and rush to me. We hugged in the driveway for almost half an hour. It took my parents beeping their car horn to get us to move so they could have room to park in the driveway. He stayed for dinner and we never stopped talking. After he left it took him only ten minutes to call me saying how he had first, gotten home safely and second, how much he loved me. I fell asleep talking to him. A year passed by filled with me working at the vet, Jason finding a job at the local law firm, and constant dates.
One night while we were watching a movie Jason went into the kitchen where I knew my father was eating. I heard talking but couldn't make out what they were saying. I didn't want to mute the movie because than they would know I was listening in. I gave my boyfriend and dad some privacy. A minute later Jason came in and got down on one knee. He asked me if I would marry him. I think I had the same exact reaction that I had when he asked me out. I immediately said yes. That night I had another nightmare. This time the car came even closer. I knew it was only a matter of around two dreams for the car to make contact.
I soon married Jason. The wedding was the happiest night of my life. It was a surprise that now it was final, I had gotten what most girls could only dream of, someone who truly loved me. After my wedding my friends started to get married too. It was two years after marrying Jason when we had our little baby girl Sophia. She was the joy of our lives. Nothing made Jason and I happier than watching Sophia learn, play, and grow. Her first birthday came and it was just Jason and I. We didn't want a big party. She was only one, we would save the huge parties for her teen years. That night I had another nightmare. The speeding car came within an inch of Ryan's. I woke up with a start, only one dream left and I would experience what could have been.
Other than the impending nightmare everything was going great. Sophia was happy and healthy, Jason and I were happy; our jobs were both proving to be everything we had wanted. I was living the life I had imagined having when I was in high school.
It ended the night of Sophia's third birthday. After a day of spoiling Sophia with new toys and ice cream we all went to bed. I knew the second I fell asleep I was going to have my final nightmare.
This time the headlights didn't stop. The car rammed straight into the right side of Ryan's car. I felt the car flip and watched in horror through my spinning vision the other car veer of the road. I was aware of Ryan in the seat next to me. Then it ended.
I realized something in that split second, I wasn't having nightmares. My dreams were me was coming back to reality for seconds at a time. I didn't survive the crash that I thought had almost happened so many years ago. It all made sense now, Ryan suddenly sobering up seconds after the car hit and my crush asking me out the day after the party. People say your life flashes before your eyes in the last seconds before death comes. That happens every day doesn't it? Our mind is constantly recalling memories, our life and our past every second of the day. If we do that every day without realizing it, then what use is it in the moments before death? It has no use. We already know our life, we've lived it. What's important is what we haven't lived, the moments we could have seen, and the ones we never will. Some of us won't see them because of old age, some because of an incurable disease, and others, because of one stupid decision.
In the moments before I died, I had seen my future flash before my eyes without even knowing it. If I had been given the chance earlier to know what I would have missed, knowing this future would have changed all of my decisions. There is only one of them that I would change at this moment. I would never have gotten in that car.
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