Chapter 1 - The Accident
From the moment that the eleven year old silver car upturned itself and landed in a field neighboring the desolate country road it had been speeding down, the lives of many individuals were both directly and indirectly impacted forever.
As the soft glow of twilight shone through the windows of his home, Dylan wandered into the kitchen wearing a white shirt and a pair of dark jeans. He was joined by his year younger brother, Jack, who was quite under-dressed in comparison to him.
Is that what he’s wearing to the party? thought Dylan to himself.
He stopped himself from vocalizing that thought, for fear of receiving a dig from his mother, Ann. Cooking in the kitchen while listening to a broadcast of RTE on the radio, she had her back turned to Dylan as he addressed her. ‘Mam, we’ve got to go now,’ he said. ‘Can I have the keys please?’
He flashed a nervous smile at her as she shifted her focus from the pan of sizzling meat. She reached into her pocket and produced a car key attached to a tarnished key ring. Stretching her arm out, she dropped it into the palm of Dylan’s hand.
‘Your dad will pick you both up at midnight outside Foley’s. Be on time, and don’t even think of driving home after the party.’
Dylan nodded diffidently. ‘Don’t worry, we will be.’
Ann turned down the gas low on the hob and turned her focus to Jack. She wrapped her arms around him. ‘Enjoy yourself honey. If you have any problems, or if your brother is bullying you,’ she uttered.
She paused to shoot a warning glance at Dylan. He looked away as she continued to speak to Jack. ‘Make sure you call me.’
‘Will do Ma,’ he replied. Jack broke away from her and rolled his eyes which she didn’t seem to notice.
‘I love you, I’ll see you later,’ she stated.
She looked to Dylan as he told her he loved her. ‘See you later,’ she replied, pausing for a moment. ‘Love you too.’
Dylan indicated and turned into the driveway of a commodious bungalow. Driving up to the door, he turned to Jack. ‘Just picking up Rachel.’
‘Ugh,’ he groaned. ‘Why does she have to come?’
Unfastening his seat belt, Dylan sighed at him. ‘Because she’s my girlfriend, Jack.’
‘She’s such a bitch.’ Dylan felt irritated at him. He believed he shouldn’t, because this was regularly how Jack regarded most people and it had always been this way. He ignored his comment and stepped out of the car. Jack fixed his eyes on the key in the ignition.
‘Can I drive the rest of the way?’ he asked. Following his gaze, Dylan made a grab for the keys. ‘Nope, sorry Jack,’ he said, clutching them.
Jack scowled at Dylan and stepped out of the car to face him. He pleaded with him to give him the keys and Dylan shook his head fervently. ‘You’ve only just passed your test and Mam doesn’t want you driving yet.’
Jack approached Dylan menacingly as he answered. ‘Ma’s not here. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.’
‘I said no, Jack.’ Dylan began to distance himself from him.
‘Do you think that by doing what Ma says, she’ll suddenly like you?’ asked Jack.
Dylan stood and stared at him silently as he continued to speak. ‘Ma is never going to love you like she loves me, just face it.’
Dylan clenched his jaw at Jack. ‘Shut up.’
Jack placed his phone to his ear and acted as though he was having a conversation over the phone. ‘Yep, Ma. Dylan’s insulting me. Does it count as bullying if he tells me to shut up?’
The muscles tensed in Dylan’s arms. He shook his head. ‘I’m not bullying you Jack, grow up.’
'Who do you think Ma'll believe?'
Perversity evident in his eyes, Jack held eye contact with Dylan as he raised his eyebrow. ‘I can tell you now that she’s going to believe me,’ he affirmed. ‘Remember what happened in Greece?’
Still standing opposite Jack, Dylan grimaced. He relaxed his tense body and shuddered slightly. He swallowed and fell silent. ‘Of course, I won’t call her as long as you give me the keys.’
Dylan looked to the keys in his hand and sighed. He tossed the keys to Jack and looked him in the eye. ‘I was driving, agreed?’
‘Agreed.’ Jack scrambled into the driver seat as Dylan stepped onto the porch of the house and rang the doorbell.
Inside the house, a girl stood before a mirror in the hallway. ‘I’ll be there in a minute, Dylan.’
As she applied mascara to her curled eyelashes, her mother, Teresa, emerged from the kitchen. ‘You’re leaving now, Rachel?’
‘Yeah,’ she said with a smile. ‘Dylan’s just outside.’
Teresa nodded and hugged Rachel. ‘Are you sure it’s a good idea to allow Dylan to drive you?’
Rachel rolled her eyes at her and smiled. ‘Mam, stop worrying,’ she said. ‘I’ve been in a car with him loads of times and he’s always been responsible.’
Teresa smiled at her. ‘I know,’ she said. ‘I just worry about you, that’s all.’
‘I’ll see you tomorrow,’ Rachel said. ‘I love you.’
Passing by the living room, Rachel peeped inside. She said goodbye to her brother, Josh, who was doing his Irish homework. Teresa followed her to the door. As Rachel opened it, she greeted Dylan.
‘Hi Dylan,’ she said. ‘Be careful driving now. And make sure the two of you don’t drink too much. Look out for each other.’
‘Mam,’ hissed Rachel. She widened her eyes at Teresa, giving her a sharp look as if to say shut up.
Teresa bit her lip. ‘Sorry. Have a nice time.’
Rachel walked towards the car with Dylan and began to back bite about Teresa. ‘She’s so embarrassing.’
Dylan nodded and smiled at her. ‘She cares about you,’ he said. ‘It’s nice.’
Rachel slid across the back seats of the car and Dylan sat beside her in the middle. He refrained from fastening his seat belt, on the contrary to Rachel, who had secured hers as soon as she had seated herself in the car. ‘So, I was talking to Sadhbh and she said there’s going to be at least two hundred people going to her party.’
‘Right,’ he said. ‘Apart from Eoghan, who else is coming from our year?’
Rachel thought for a moment. 'Well, there’s Aaron. And Sabrina,′ she said, pulling a face. ‘And there’s loads of other people from our year.’
Jack pushed his foot against the accelerator. As the speed of the car began to rapidly increase, Dylan leaned forward and placed his hand on the back of his seat. ‘Jack, you’re going a little bit too fast. Could you please slow down?’
Jack glared at Dylan through the mirror and replied to him without hesitation. ‘The speed I’m going at is fine.’
Dylan was jerked back into his seat as the car became faster. The tires began to screech as they rubbed abrasively against the tarmac in the road. ‘Seriously Jack, slow down,’ said Rachel.
‘Oh shut up, you stupid fucking bitch.’
Dylan cut in, his voice raised. ‘Don’t you dare talk to her like that,’ he yelled. ‘And slow down.’
‘Shut up, the pair of you,’ Jack roared.
Dylan ignored him and turned to Rachel. ‘I’m so sorry about him, are you okay?’
‘I have a name,’ retorted Jack.
Dylan turned back to face Jack and was about to pass a snide comment to him before his eyes darted to a dog sitting in the centre of the road. His eyes widened in horror. ‘Jack, watch—’
Jack turned back around to notice the dog. He was within inches of knocking it down and killing it. With heavy force, he slammed his foot down against the brakes.
At that point, the car was no longer on the road. It was bounding through the bitter cold air of a night in the early days of the winter season. It flipped over and landed upside down in a lightly frosted over field, with a tumultuous thud which was followed by a deafening silence.