Prime and I had just settled down to watch an episode of Star Trek: Voyager when we heard a loud noise. Prime admitted that he thought it was thunder. Well, until we both heard the shriek of brakes not a moment later.
There had been a collision. On the street. By our house. I was stunned.
Now, the weather hadn’t exactly been wonderful; we’d had snow earlier and the roads were slick. But I was still in a state of shock. Had that really just happened? Had I maybe imagined it all? After a few seconds of disbelief, I managed to say that I was calling 911 to report what had gone on.
This was the first time I had ever dialed 911. I’m hoping that it will be the last time.
I managed to give the dispatcher the few details that I knew; she said she would send help. As I peeked out the door, I saw a crowd gathering. I wondered if anyone else had called for help.
When I got back to Prime, I was still shaken. My heart was pounding and my hands were trembling. I was nervous, on edge. I felt like a caged animal.
I don’t handle traffic accidents well. It doesn’t help that I was involved with one when I was younger.
When I was three, a woman pulled out in front of my mother while we were going home. Mom had to slam on the brakes. I ended up landing headfirst on the floorboard. My memories of the accident are sketchy at best; I can remember being in my mother’s arms as she walked into a liquor store. I have dim images of the ride to the hospital in an ambulance. I have a few images of a cloth being draped over my head; I had a pressure cut that needed to be stitched closed. Then I remember a nurse, asking me if I knew how to wink.
The memories are there but they’ve become faded, like the images of a bad dream. They don’t seem quite real anymore but I still have the scars.
There’s a small line on my forehead, the thin remainder of the wound that has to be repaired. My teeth are crooked and one front tooth is shorter than the other; the baby tooth was knocked out on impact. For years, I had a gap in my smile. You can imagine how happy I was when I saw a new tooth poking through the gum line when I was in sixth grade. The physical reminders still remain. I’ll always have them. But it’s the mental scar tissue that happens to be more problematic.
Trauma is a tricky thing, a fickle beast. When you think you’ve beaten it, that you’ve finally overcome it, it will come back. Trauma can paralyze you with a thought, a sound, or a sight. A certain scent can bring it back. A word of two can send you over the edge. You don’t know when that fear will hit you, what might cause it and why but when it hits, it hits. It doesn’t matter if the incident in question happened three years ago or thirty; the reaction can be just as visceral.
Yes, I survived the accident. But I will never be the same. That is the cold, hard truth, something I have learned to accept.
It took about an hour for me to calm down. Prime and I watched another episode of Voyager in the meantime. It took my mind off things, which I needed. The accident didn’t involve me. It won’t affect me directly. I wasn’t the one driving or sitting in the passenger seat.
But the sounds I heard bothered me. They always will. That is something that will never change.