It seemed quieter than normal. The air had a metallic stillness that was unfamiliar to him. This was one of those moments in life that you would list as one of your 'firsts'. It was the first time that time seemed to stall as if all the clocks in the world had ceased to function. At least, it felt that way. The smell of burning plastics permeated the interior of the wreck as he lay there motionless. Whether he was unconscious or not, even he could not have answered. It seemed so peaceful there. There was no pain, there was no sorrow, but perhaps a tinge of regret, but even that was just a smattering of it because it all seemed to make sense. Like a strange Egyptian puzzle that was never meant to be solved.
The thoughts that ran through his mind was, it wasn't as spectacular as he thought it would be. This was by no means intentional. Accidents are never planned. But growing up in the life of movies and television and special effects, he thought there would have been a bigger fire. An explosion, perhaps. But there was nothing at all. The silence was more deafening than any other explosion he had ever saw on television.
Warm liquid trickled down his arm. Unable to move, he couldn't tell what it was, but it seemed awful lot like blood. Its a bleeder, he thought. But there was nothing funny about his position. It was just...strangely peaceful. He could feel himself drifting away. It was like having a night of too many tequilas condensed in as little time as possible. Soon, the familiar wreck of twisted metal and broken glass in front of him started to blur. Perhaps he was losing too much blood too quickly. He listened, secretly hoping for an ambulance or commotion of some sort.
But nothing came. There was just dead silence. He grasped his fingers together in his right palm as if to feel some sort of humanity left in him. All he felt was just warm blood. If blood was what gives us life, he thought, then life must be slowly slipping away.
* * *
His heart started beating a little faster as adrenaline surged through his veins. Dressed in his pressed dress shirt, understated cufflinks and his best shoes, he felt untouchable. He looked back and saw all his friends there, cheering him on. It was a simple thing to do, just approach her, and get her number. Yes and ask her out too, if you can. He could feel his heart beat with the thumping of the music in the club. This is not like the first time I've done this, he thought. Best to keep up appearances. Plus, she was really cute. And it wasn't the drinks talking, since he had barely a few sips ever since he got there. You wanted your life to change, do something about it, he told himself.
Hi! He said. Hello, she replied and smiled. There was something in that smile that he couldn't forget, yet not put a finger on. It was intoxicating just being there, and he basked in all its bewitchingness. He remembered talking, but not really about anything. Words just seemed to roll out of his tongue like fruit on jello. He stood there looking into her eyes and wondering about something as he was talking. It seemed as if he wasn't really there at all, as if he wasn't the one talking but a detached part of himself as the other part of him stared into those eyes that looked intently back at his.
'There is something beautiful about you. I don't know what it is, I can't pinpoint it, but I am incredibly attracted to you. If you'd let me, I want to find out what it is,' he remembered saying.
* * *
For days he waited. Hours filled with work and responsibilities. The real world bore no real fruit of satisfaction or gratification. Perhaps that was why the hours felt longer than really possible. But what made it worse was the wait of not knowing. Would she call back? The previous conversation, as enigmatic as it was, was quite vague, and to delve into details would mean to lose that element of surprise, the element of suaveness and inspired creativity, so he thought to let it be. Give it time, they would all tell him. At that moment there was more time than anything else to give, so he thought it was the best idea so far.
'I'll talk to you later, alright?' she said, in the most unhurried, natural and honest voice he ever heard. It was laced with happiness and playful laughter, and for that reason, he waited.
* * *
You can never predict accidents. Thats why they are called accidents. But its become so generalized by lack of good decision making skills and lack of disaster management that negative results get chucked into the accident tray. Most accidents aren't really accidents if they can be avoided. But you can't avoid a trailer busting a tyre, losing control and running into your car just enough so you run off your driving line and slam into a concrete divider at 90km/h because you didn't have time to hit the brakes. Not that it would have done very much anyway. This, he thought, is an accident.
All he could see was colors now. Everything was in a strange sepia tone. He hated sepia, it was like photos that could've looked better with color correction. But he hated where he was. He hated that it was so serene. But he didn't have any energy for drama. They say that in moments of death your life flashes in front of your eyes. He tried but then couldn't really pinpoint any event in his life. He remembered the smell of mint. Eucalyptus oil. When he was a child that seemed to cure anything; headaches, dizziness, stomach aches. He wished he could smell that now, but all that was was just smoke that permeated inside the cabin of the vehicle. He could only imagine that comforting scent and nothing more. That was it. He felt disappointed because it seemed that his life was summed up by the scent of eucalyptus. But the more he thought, the worse the dizziness became.
Deep breaths. Maybe that would work. Perhaps that would stop the pain that slowly began to creep into his left thigh. It was a sharp acute pain as if something went through and through, but he just lay there on his side. He could feel the warm tarmac of the day's sun on his face. And then in front of him, a glow of articial light lit with the ringing of his phone. He reached for it with his left hand with what seemed like the utmost of energies exerted with his entire body. But the ringing broke the loneliness of silence for the first time in the entire night.
'Hi,' he said. 'I'm glad you called.'
He smiled for the first time in days. But that was all he could manage as he dropped the phone and his hand slumped across the warmth of the tarmac.