A re-write of an old post D for Drive and a part of ABC Story Challenge #TheJanuaryChallenge
Jack’s first drive after getting his drivers’ license was a nightmare he wished he could just forget. That scene was all he could see in front of him. The regret and guilt that were coursing through him every minute was painful and unbearable. He knew there was only one right thing here, but he could not bring himself up to do it. He lacked courage. He was weak. But he did cause an end to a life. It was all his fault. He should face it.
There was nothing else that he could do. He had not slept a wink since it had happened. The only way he could at least sleep was if he could confess. And sooner is always better than later. Jack decided he would surrender himself if it came to that. He was ready to accept the consequences of his action. It was no good being cowardly any more.
Going back on the same area was difficult in itself. After the accident, he did not dare drive again. So he took a taxi, but even after reaching the destination, he could not step out of the vehicle. It was finally when the driver threatened to throw him out of the cab that he found strength (not that he had a choice) to step out.
The door was opened by an old lady. She shot Jack a quizzical expression, while keeping a firm hand on the door, “Yes, young man? Are you looking for someone? How can I help you, my dear?”
Jack was overwhelmed by being near her. The poor lady has lost her son and it was all because of him. The poor man, he thought quietly. He couldn’t hold back his tears and broke down. “I am very sorry, ma’am. It was because of me that you lost your son. I am a coward. That was my first time driving and seeing an empty lane, I raced. I should never have raced in a residential area. I saw him very late. I couldn’t stop the vehicle. It was way too fast to control for me. I lost control of the vehicle and hit him. You have to understand, it was panic that made me speed away from there instead of waiting to help him. I should have stopped and helped him. I realize it very well. I should have had enough courage. Then your son would have been saved. It is all my fault. I accept all the consequences for my action.” He couldn’t stop sobbing standing on her footsteps.
The old lady’s eyes grew moist. She took his hand and led him inside. After making him sit on a couch, she got him some lemonade and forced him to drink some. Sitting next to him, she held on to his hand and let him cry his heart out. When finally he finished crying, she patted his hand, “You poor thing, you had to live with this guilt for so long and for nothing, too. If only you had stopped that day, you would not have faced so much of an issue.”
Jack did not understand what she was saying. He had expected anger, or even tremendous sadness, but here she was consoling him. It was unexpected and that made him go quiet. Seeing him stunned, she gave a small smile. “If you had stopped that day, you would have realized that AJ had not died. He was very much alive and had only fractured his leg with the fall. He could come home to call 911 to go to the hospital himself, although after that, he had to remain at the hospital for quite some time till his leg was better. But the near death experience changed him.”
“You see, this house and everything you see of affluence is made by my son. He was a highly focused student as a child and grew up to be equally, if not more focused at his work. He was determined to give us a life of comfort and luxury and had postponed his own life to give us that. So much so that he hardly ever had time for us. It was all work for him. Everytime we asked for some time from him, he used to say he would spend time with us when he has given us enough of comfort. Our wish to see him married and start a family was never even acknowledged..”
Running her hands over a xylophone kept on the mantle, she continued, “But that accident changed him. He realized that he could have lost his life and everything he wanted to accomplish apart from money would still have been incomplete. The time at the hospital made him realize that his parents are growing old too and might not live long enough for him to make time for us. He realized that he did not know anything about our well being because of his work load. He also realized that his work had pushed away all his friends and in his time of need, there was no one apart from us who were there with him. He would have been alone if it had not been for us. And that was a changing point for him.”
The old lady’s smile grew wider now. “He quit his job soon after that and started working independently as a consultant. Now he has time for us. He takes us for our regular health check ups and takes care of us. We never needed his money. We only needed his time. It took an accident to make him realize that. Now he is in a relationship with an old school friend of his. I think they might end up together, although this is just a starting phase of their relationship. So, in effect, I should be thanking you for all that has happened. If not for that day, we might have died and gone without our son realizing how much he was losing due to his work. You saved him from being a zombie, devoted to his work.”
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