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The night is never safe, especially when you think you’re okay.

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I had been walking.

That was all.

My routine was to take midnight strolls to improve my health and ease my mind. There was nothing risky, nothing dangerous, nothing suspicious about it.

There was no reason for me to be hurt.

I had been enjoying the evening.

That was all.

The street was quiet and the sidewalk clear. My concrete territory was plainly marked. It could not be confused for that of the driver.

There was no reason for me to die.

But the car tore out of the darkness, made of darkness. No lights screamed their signal, no horn sounded its siren. There had been no chance to flee, no place to hide.

Within a breath's span, I was trapped. My back was driven into the rough bark of a fir tree, and my chest was crushed by a thousand pounds of malleable metal. The flesh on my arms and face were slowly scalded by the scorching heat of the vehicle’s radiator.

I felt the pain for but a second. Then it stopped altogether, as if an unforeseen numbness had fallen on my nerves. I knew I couldn’t breathe, or move, or hardly even speak, but all of my tangible agony was gone. My mind was unusually cognizant. My thoughts were clear and distinct. I knew exactly what I desired to say, but my lips would not form the words; I could barely feel them.

Death's charioteer emerged from behind the red glass; was it their blood that spattered the windshield like thick ink? The driver’s blanched face was illuminated by the light of an iPhone: she was young, maybe 20. Blood streamed from her right temple and a long gash struck across her cheek like a pen mark. A look of bewildered shock glazed her eyes like a veil, and her cracked lips began to quiver.

In low and sobbing tones, she spoke to me. For a moment, I couldn’t comprehend her words; they made no sense, they weren’t words. She wept to someone over the phone, and then reassured me that I would be okay. Quite confused and a bit stunned, I tried to explain to her that I was in no pain, that I felt fine. But my words only caused her more distress. She told me to stop, to calm down, to save my energy.

Help was on the way.

In silence, I watched my condition grow ragged. I couldn’t feel the air being sucked in or out of my lungs, I couldn’t feel my heart giving out. But I could tell it was happening. Very quickly, my head began to slump over onto the hood of the car. Mist fell over my eyes, and I became subject to phases of deafness. When help did finally arrive, I could not make heads of tails of what was going on.

Sentences carried in the air like leaves or lightening bugs. The word "severed" was repeated over and over and over. The medics bombarded me with a blur of questions. The young driver stood in the road with an officer, crying hysterically. The phrases they were saying made me dizzy and I thought of sleeping.

I leaned against the car hood, and closed my eyes. From a removed place in my mind, I heard the engine of a car choke to life and felt the pressure on my chest slowly, gently release.

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