I’ve never worried about being careful or slowing down. All that’s ever mattered is that I get where I’m going.
My phone alarm goes off for the third time this morning. My whole room has already filled with bright yellow light from the morning sun filtering in through the window in front of my bed. I start to rummage through the sheets trying to find my phone that I can hear but can’t quite seem to get to from under the covers, even with the loud blaring sound it’s making. After I find the phone, I’m hoping to hit the snooze button and sleep a little bit longer if only five more minutes. Then I notice the time, it’s already 7:30 A.M and school starts at 8:00. Even though it’s only two months into my junior year of high school I have already been late to school three times, late enough that I have to sign in to the attendance office. I’ve been told that one more time of signing in at the attendance office would mean trouble for me. More than likely it won’t be serious trouble, not something big, but for sure, not anything I want to deal with. I really need to be on time today.
Quickly, I head for my closet, pull out a few things, without even turning the lights on. I really don’t care that it matches. From the dresser drawers I grab a few more things and head to the bathroom, squinting while my eyes become accustomed to the bright light that has filled not just my room, but the whole house since the last time I hit the snooze button. Along the way I start undressing, hoping to save a few more minutes. Almost running into the glass shower door, I turn on the water, and jump in not wanting to wait for it to warm up. I scrub my hair and body as fast as I can, goose bumps forming as I start shivering. When I get out, the water is just starting to get hot. I get dressed not bothering to dry off, and yank a brush through my dripping wet hair. My teeth are still chattering as I brush them a little less carefully than my dentist would like. My feet slide on the wet tile floor as I make my way out of the bathroom almost making me lose my balance and fall.
I look at my phone, its 7:50 now. Heading to the stairs, I trip over the clothes I had carelessly thrown to the floor. I go down the stairs, running, taking the steps two at a time holding tightly onto the railing and rush out the of the house without time for breakfast, and that paper that was due today, the one I spent all night working on is probably still somewhere in my room
My mother is yelling after me, wishing me a nice day, asking me if I have a jacket but I just mumble a response back to her that it’s not that cold. It is a beautiful fall day but I barely notice the sunshine, only that I can’t see my breath. Good, that means no frost on my windshield. All I have time to think about is that, I really don’t want to be late today. The driveway seems longer than usual as I hurry towards my car, my feet hitting against the concrete. Throwing open the door I toss my backpack into the seat next to me, it falls down onto the floor with a loud thump, but I don’t have time to pick it up. I look down at my phone 7:52, I’ll make it, school is only a few minutes’ drive from where I live, and I’ve made it with less time than this. I quickly back out into the road, without looking left, right or even right behind me.
Driving down the street I turn on the radio, hoping to listen to a song on the way to school, no such luck though, the only stations I receive are either a loud over played commercial or the canned laughter of a couple of old DJs. I quickly hit the button to turn it back off. I don’t have time to listen anyway. All the cars parked on the right side of the street, the side I’m driving on mean that I constantly have to veer over into the other side of the road to dodge them. I can feel the pull of my seatbelt tightening as I maneuver pulling hard across my chest, making it uncomfortable as I stop at the first two stop signs. I can hear my phone rattling around in the cup holder next to me. Then I look down at the clock radio on my car noticing the time, it is 7:55 and I just know that I’m going to end up being late to school after all. I’m thinking about what that punishment for being tardy could be as I start to go a little faster down the winding neighborhood streets. Maybe it will be an after school detention I think, gripping onto the wheel a little harder. At the third stop sign in the neighborhood I break hard not wanting to waste time slowing down. I don’t look to my left or right but its okay, no one is around. I can hear my backpack sliding around at each hard stop and tight corner and try to reach for it but after several fishing expeditions I stop trying to secure it. I just don’t want to be late.
Running through the fourth stop sign, I see an object out of the corner of my eye and in that instant I know that I just messed up. I can feel the pressure of being pushed into the driver door, the side of my face hitting the cold glass on the window as the large red SUV slams into the passenger side of my much smaller car. I can hear the glass shattering and the metal bending almost in slow motion as the two cars collide with a screeching sound.
As I get out of the car I notice a few red flecks of paint on the ground. I’m no longer thinking that I just don’t want to be late, but rather thinking about what just happened because I was too busy to be careful.