The Accident – A Short Story about Excitement and Fear

photoChase Elliott ClarkCC

The Accident

In my dreams I am always driving in the reverse gear. The car almost inevitably falls into a pit. And the brakes never seem to work.

Perhaps this stems from my insecurity of never having perfected the art of parallel parking. Or just the undulating shame of once having driven my dad’s car into an unguarded manhole. Episodes like these resurface in my head every time I commit a serious faux pas while driving.

A few weeks back I met with an accident. A minor car accident. Which inflicted a few minutes of amnesia. Or so I thought.

Driving in excitement

Here’s the lowdown: I left home at sharp 4 pm. Dressed in my favourite black jeans and blue Turtleneck. To endure the excruciating winter-wind and the heavy down pour that day. Got into the car. Drove off imagining how I’d make such a fantastic impression with my punctuality.

Excited. For the first time in two years I was to attend an event that did not involve babies or groceries. Mentally I was rehearsing phrases that could make me look sharp: Nice to meet you/Pleasure/Likewise/ Thanks for your generous offer/Let me get back to you on this.

Barely 4.05 pm. I took a presumptuous turn into the familiar Gleimstrasse (very close to the ‘ready-to-flip-a-finger’ kind of traffic at Schonhauser Allee) and saw a shiny black BMW thud into the steel grey bumper of my not-so-shiny car. It was a slow motion sequence.

Yet it scared the living daylights out of me. My car threw a coughing fit. For my left foot had decided to leave the clutch without informing the right one. I think in that moment I had forgotten how to drive.

What the hell just happened?

Every cell in my body was behaving as it deemed fit. My legs had decided that they wanted to shake uncontrollably. My face had decided to contort itself to look guilty of murder. My thumb had lost its ability to speed dial my partner. And I think my pupils were dilated in shock.

My mind on the other hand was racing towards fleeing the scene. I had seen it so many times in so many movies. Only if I had known how to drive in that moment. But fortunately I saw a half-broken, abandoned number plate in the middle of the road. That brought my sanity back. And my brain took charge.

I got out of the car. Walked towards the number plate. Turned it around. And felt yet another jab of amnesia.

“Why did the number look so strange? How come I didn’t know I had a 9 and a 5 in my number plate? I think I must have lost my memory during pregnancy. They say women do and what if..”

While I was still heaving long sighs of disbelief over losing my memory, a 20-something guy tapped on my shoulder. “That is my number plate you are taking,” he said curtly.

Clearly so. For I saw mine intact on the rear of my car. Awash in raindrops. Mocking me. 777. That’s my number.

photo: alexberlinetta

Sorry, so sorry!

From that moment on, I started apologising profusely to this 20-something BMW driver who looked too smug to have been in any kind of accident.

The police took 25 minutes to arrive at the scene. Took another five to investigate who was driving what, where and when. The 20-something declared with a tone of finality pointing towards me, “It’s her fault.” Sure. Even I thought so.

The 6-foot tall officer studied my idiotic expressions. And then booyah! He said in his guttural German, “Ms. Singh was driving in the priority lane. You cannot blame her.”

I had to suck my cheeks in to prevent myself from smiling. My body had to resist the urge to perform a somersault. The smugness on the 20-something’s face had turned into rage against me.

He was slapped with a fine. It was apparent that he was already going through the tedious insurance paper work in his head while I was having a mental party of sipping hot cocoa in bed.

What could I say? He should have been careful. Less smug. More apologetic. Perhaps a little nervous too!

Text: Ripu Daman Singh

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Ripu Daman Singh is almost neurotic when it comes to writing or ranting. Her devotion toward coffee and cake is insufferable. She has covered news for print media, built PR operations for startups and coached C-level executives in Communications for almost 10 years. Yet her biggest insecurity remains communication, or the illusion of it.

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