I think I was five. Primary school finished earlier than the higher classes, so Ma had picked me up. We'd routinely have fun without the other two, we still do, and our after-school shenanigans accounted for most of it. We'd swing by the market, she - to get vegetables to make me a healthy meal, me - to buy enough snacks and chocolates so that I could avoid said meal. I'd plop down on the sofa, chips by my side, cartoons on the TV, until I tired myself out. I don't remember what usually followed very well, but Ma probably carried me to my bed once I hit the hay.
I'd woken up from my nap early that day. Full of energy as only children can be, I wanted to do something. Ma was learning how to drive back then. She had an instructor initially, but she'd gotten good enough to venture out on her own. We decided to go for a spin and run some errands.
I was a garrulous little kid, and ensconced in the passenger's seat, blabbered all the way through. Ma, distracted as she was, was adjusting the rearview mirror as she nodded to acknowledge my chatter. That's when it happened. She'd underestimated the enormous cement dumpster on our left. The car, though relatively slow, rammed into it. Perhaps I remember the contact wrong, because I don't know how to scientifically explain this next part. In an instant, my side of the car was up in the air, ninety degrees to the ground. Seconds turned into aeons. We were too stunned to shout, or do anything else, really. Suspended in mid-air, we could only wonder which side we'd fall to. I wonder if my short-lived life had flashed before my eyes.
It was over in a flash, although it certainly didn't seem like it to us. Somehow, we didn't topple over. I was back on solid ground, my fragile body shaking all over. A crowd gathered, calls were made, physical wellness was asked after. We came out of the whole thing without a scratch. Wish I could say the same about our poor car, I loved that little hatchback. I can't recall anything else related to the incident, but we can attribute that to the passage of years and the emotional upheaval I'd experienced. Traumatized is probably too strong a word, but I was, and still remain, definitely in the neighborhood.
It didn't hit me until recently, but this is probably why I'm terrified of driving. I'm surprised I pulled through to get my license. I still have difficulty trusting anybody at the helm of an automobile, anybody except Pa, he's my safe place. It really is disempowering though, not being able to drive. In fact, my fearful mind finds a skill as basic as operating a vehicle inordinately attractive. So much so, that it's decidedly my new way of proclaiming my love. No more long letters. Just a sticky note, taped to the horn. I'm trusting you to steer my life, literally. Crash and burn isn't an option anymore. That's how simple it is. Get me in the front seat, I'm yours.
So, that's the story of how I almost died - one of them anyway. It's been very Final Destination-ey in my early years. It's been a fascinating ride, hope I live a life that was worth being saved.