By Zofia Barisas
She’s driving home. Her small son sleeps next to her, strapped in his child’s chair. It’s nighttime. Cars are flowing in both directions in strings of weeping lights.
A car overtakes from the right, fishtails across her path, jumps across the median and plows into an oncoming car. She pulls over. Horrible sound of metal tearing metal. Glass breaking. The driver’s side window caves in. The other car is still sliding forward into it. Blood.
Night rain everywhere. Empty vastness of fields all around. Sea of lights on the road. Remnants of melting snow.
Sirens. A row of sirens merge into one long wail. Ambulances, police cars, tow trucks.
The man sits in his car, weeping. “Sir, breathe into this, please.” No alcohol. A bunch of red roses on the seat next to him. “My wife’s birthday… going to a concert… didn’t want to be late… God… God…”
The woman sits in her car. Her small son wakes. “Mommy?” she strokes his cheek. “I’m right here, little sparrow.” A knock on the window. Policeman. “Can you tell me what happened, ma’am?” “I was driving slow because of the rain. My little boy had just fallen asleep. The other car overtook me on the inside. I don’t know what happened. Suddenly he lost control, cut across me and drove into the oncoming traffic and hit that car.” The policeman looks at her little boy and smiles. “How ya doin, big fella?” The little boy hides his face in his own shoulder. “I have one about the same age at home.”
Her phone. “Where are you? I was expecting you at home some time ago.” “I’m on the highway. There’s been an accident.” “You and Zach okay?” “Yes. We should be home in an hour.”
The traffic flows again, slowly. She and her son are on their way. Then she sees her. She’s kneeling on the back seat behind her motionless mother. Behind the curtain of raindrops running down the car window. The little girl’s face, pressed to the glass, wide-open eyes, vacant, looking out.
The noise of the metal cutting machine stops. The ambulance men carefully pull the body out.
He is on top of her, kissing her mouth. “Mommy, mommy.” “I’ll be right back,” he says. A naked man’s body walking away. Murmur of voices. That small face in the window. Not even saying ‘Mommy’. Staring out. The beauty of the man coming back. “I can’t.” “It’s okay. I’ll just hold you.” He holds her.