Chapter 1 - Creation
Manufacturer: Nathaniel Patrick Sanders
“In a few short hours you will kill your family.” From: Unknown Caller 808-432-5687
I should’ve been concerned at first, but I’ve become so desensitized by the internet that I shrugged it off. A prank text, hilarious guys, although I tried to convince myself of its insignificance, the faintest idea of that text would subtly remain in my mind as we walked through the doors and purchased our tickets.
INFINITE: Rated R
July 14th, 2017
“So how many times have you seen this one, Sasha?” My mother inquired as we made our way down the hall to the first theater on our right.
“Not nearly enough. You two will love it.”
“Four times isn’t enough?”
“You just don’t understand because you’re an idiot Dustin,” I replied as I shot a smug look over to my brother. “Idiot? Me? Because I like movies with substance?”
“If you consider superhero clichés and unending actions sequences substance then yes. You’re an idiot.” My mother shook her head as we made our way to our seats. It didn’t matter what movie we went to see at my favorite dollar theater. I choose to go to this place on my birthday because it was a tradition. 2nd Sunday of every month, this one just happened to be my birthday, 18th or 21st I would’ve spent it either way. I was more excited for what was after the movie anyway.
As always the cinematic adventure was done and over with before I could blink. I like to think that the cinema warps time if the right movie is playing two hours feels like five minutes. It’s my little dose of heaven in a world where time is always against us.
“Sasha put your phone down. I swear you and that thing are surgically attached. Can’t your blogs wait just one day?”
“You know I can’t do that mom. I have a career to think about, what’s up?”
“I have something for you. Somewhere…” My mother scurried around in her purse and pulled out a small gift wrapped present.
“Here you go, my little blogger.” She handed me the box, and I began to tear away at the tediously wrapped gift my mother presented to me. My fingers were just about to open the lid of the black velvet coated box until I saw the inscription on the tag outside.
To my greatest creation, happy 18th birthday my little actress. The stars shine brightest on souls that make this world a better place. I love you and no matter what I will always be proud of you. Love: Dad.
I froze while my mother and brother waited for me to open my gift, their anxiety peaking as I was about to lift open the lid.
I stood still; I wasn’t sure how to process this moment, receiving gifts from a dead man.
“What’s wrong honey?”
“I think. I think I’ll wait till later to open this. Is that okay?” My mother let out a sincere smile and placed her hand on my shoulder. She knew better than anyone the resentment I held towards my father.
“That’s fine Sasha. I understand, now let’s get some food in your stomach.”
“About damn time!”
“Boy, I will slap the hell out of you. It’s your sister’s birthday, so we’re moving at her pace – understand? Speaking of which, Sasha?” My mother then leaned in towards me and handed me the car keys.
“Yeah, mom?” I asked glued to my phone.
“Why don’t you drive? I have one more gift to give you before we go eat.”
My eyes lit up with intrigue, and I jumped into the driver’s seat. My mother rode shotgun, and we then made our way onto the pacific coast highway.
I used to love driving, I got my license at 15, and I always had the urge to get out and onto the road. Driving pacified me, especially at night. I always used it as a method to clear my head. Whether I was being picked on for my strange looks at school, or when I was frustrated trying to write a scene, I always had the open road – my path to clarity, the final connection to my thought process.
“So what is it?” I asked anxiously about my gift.
“No spoilers Sasha.”
“Give me a clue.”
“Okay. One clue.” My mother responded hesitantly.
“Is it blue?”
“No, it’s red. That’s all I’m giving you.”
“Thank god, red meat. While you two are obsessed with this gift, I’m dying of starvation over here.” My brother was always incessantly impatient, constantly hungry, and always felt distant when he wasn’t the center of attention. Despite all his shortcomings, however, I always appreciated how colorful our conversations were.
“Oh god, if only that would happen Dustin, that would be the best birthday gift I could ask for.”
“You wouldn’t miss me, sis?”
“Why would I miss you if I get to have all of your stuff?”
“Oh, you’re not getting any of my stuff. It’s all getting buried with me.”
“Hmm, do you plan on getting buried in a semi-trailer?”
“That is way more baller than a coffin.”
“You know I’m happy you two get along so well.” My mother said as she gazed out the car window at the diamonds shining on the surface of the Pacific Ocean. “Your uncle Ted and I would always fight with each other. It wasn’t playful either.”
“Did he beat you?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m sure you won all of those fights mom. Uncle Ted probably has never touched a weight in his life.”
“Well Dustin, it was about half and half. It just makes me happy to know that when I’m gone – you two will be just fine. Your dad would be proud.” Every single time my mother mentioned my father we could tell she was still going through the grieving process. He died two years ago, but she still holds onto him.
It made me think maybe that’s what the afterlife is. The greatest aspects of our departed souls live on in the memories of the ones that once held them close. Still, though, I blamed him for everything bad that happened.
“Do you still love him?”
“Of course, I do Sasha. Even after everything that happened at the end of his life. But you know something? I wouldn’t change a thing. Live your life without regret Sasha – its makes your future easier to see. Remember that when you two head off to college.”
“Dustin, go to college?” I said glaring at my brother in the rearview mirror.
“Yeah, I thought I’d just become a street pharmacist.”
“Do you need a license for that?”
“Hell no, just street cred.”
And as mother turned towards my brother to ask him what kind of “street cred” he had gained a defining moment in my life happened.
78 miles per hour in the fast lane I heard my phone ring. I never thought a Facebook notification would alter my life. In that second I looked at my phone a driver on the opposite side of the freeway broke through the rail guard. A black Ford F-150. And at the moment, looking at my phone, that black truck was directly in front of me matching our speed in the opposite direction. I never saw it.
“SASHA!” That was the last thing I heard my mother say before we collided head-on with the truck. And then there was just a flash.
Everything started to fade, points of flashing lights pierced through my eyelids. I was on the highway surrounded by EMS vehicles in every direction. My airbag did not deploy, and I flew straight through the windshield – that would save my life and leave me with a few scars on my hands.
There was this awful sound. It was almost deafening. It was the only thing I could hear over the horrible ringing in my ears. As my world began to come back into focus, I saw blinding green and red lights and the belly of a helicopter. The dust was being flung in my eyes, forcing its way down my throat, to avoid suffocating I decided to look over to my left to see horror unfold.
I flew 100 linear feet from our car, which was now an awful mangled, mutilated metal corpse twisted and combined with the truck. And even 100 feet away I pressed my hand on the pavement and felt the debris, the blast radius of the crash covered the highway with little metal and glass shards that ripped and pierced my flesh on contact.
In those few seconds of waking up, everything in my reality was moving in slow motion, 10,000 frames per second after colliding in the fast lane. I was hoping I was just dreaming of a crash when I saw four men and two women carrying three body bags into the back of an ambulance.
That text, it was right.
I always imagined being beside my mother at the moment of her death. Nearing 100 years of age clutching her hand as the last of her life faded away into the void. I never got to say goodbye. There was no heartwarming farewell; I didn’t even get to tell her how much I loved her. I felt every inch of my foundation crumble into nothing when I saw the lifeless figures of my mother and brother; their faces were so blank, so expressionless, and now so empty. My mom was 45 years old, and my brother was 23, both dead on the day I turned 18.
“NO! DON’T TAKE THEM!” I howled hysterically, fidgeting frantically to escape my bonds – I had to see them, I had to know for sure, but it would be no use. Strapped in tight to the stretcher, they lifted me up towards the helicopter. I couldn’t take my eyes away and continued to struggle to try and turn the stretcher over. I sensed a shot then jab into my arm, and the voice of the paramedic: “Shhh, it’s okay. You’re safe now.”
I continued to scream until the pacifying effect of tranquilizer kicked in, and then I experienced everything fading, dispersing. That horrible moment only lasted 10 seconds, but it moved like 1,000, and I will never forget what I experienced lying helpless, and shattered on that highway. I lifted my arm towards the sky and passed out while I rose towards the light. I bathed in its essence, the light and sound were washing over me until everything went black.
In that fleeting moment, I felt what it was like to die, and in many ways, Sasha Taylor did die that day, I would be reborn after waking up the next day at the hospital. I would be reborn with an endless surface of self-condemnation through which a blossom of personal destruction would grow.
I don’t remember much of my time spent in that hospital room. I needed no surgery, no emergency treatment, no ICU. I had a bandage slapped to my forehead and seven stitches in my hand. After everything that had happened in the last few hours, I was put immediately into a psychiatric evaluation ward. I refused and ignored every request that tried to bring to me. I never thought a human being could be broken – like when you drop your phone on the ground and the screen cracks – it never quite works the same again. I felt like a shell; the life had ripped out of me. Words were simply not enough to express everything I felt in those hours. I wouldn’t speak a word to anyone until my uncle Ted showed up several hours after my admittance.
“Ah, you must be Theodore?” Doctor Chang said as my uncle entered anxiously into my room.
“Yeah just call me Ted.”
“She’s a miracle, Ted.”
My uncle then leaned in towards my bed and tried to illicit a response from me. I stared directly at him, I could feel the emptiness that my face emitted, and the insurmountable grief expressed through the struck look in my eyes – the window to my soul was wide open. I began to weep as he leaned in close and embraced me.
Before I said what I did to him I thought deeply about it. I wanted to tell a lot of people how I felt, the guilt I’d reserved, but who would listen? I mean who would really listen? And how could I possibly use the right words to make sure they would understand? Sure, people act like they care. They act like they want to help you – but at what point are they committed to you, and the betterment of your being? I felt like he was the only person in the entire world there in that room, so I said the following:
“It’s all my fault.” And the tears once again streamed down my face.
“Sasha. None of this is your fault. I’m so sorry.”
He wiped the tears from his eyes, and he gazed into mine, I knew I had found a new family member, but nothing could relieve me of that guilt. I killed my family, had I just paid attention, everything could have been different. I don’t remember much from the hospital because those were the only words I remember speaking. And the conversation held afterward would dictate the fate of my days ahead.
“Why doctor?” My uncle asked as he trembled with grief.
“Do you need a moment?”
Distraught, my uncle stuck to his priority. “What can you tell me?”
“The accident was not her fault. The insurance company has already sided in her favor. The driver had been drinking – a functioning alcoholic working a swing shift. Unfortunately, nobody notices a drunk driver during the day.”
My uncle rubbed his head, and he placed his hands on his face as he looked down towards the floor and spoke again. “That’s not what I mean. Will she ever be okay?”
“That’s up to her. I know of a spectacular trauma therapist out from where you live. You’re out of Oklahoma City yes?”
“She’ll need her own space you know?”
“My son and I have already converted my office into her new bedroom; she’ll have plenty of space. And we’ve always gotten along; she adores my son.”
“I’m glad she’ll be going to a good home – she’ll need it.”
“Any advice you can give me before we take her home?”
Doctor Chang removed his glasses and responded to my uncle with a sigh as he began to wipe his lenses. “Currently her state of mind is extremely fragile. We ran some tests – she won’t speak to us, but we know she blames herself for this – the death of her very own family. I can hardly imagine a more traumatic situation, and now she’ll be moving to a brand-new state, away from her friends, away from her daily routine, and away from the things that define her as a person even. It’s a very delicate situation, especially at her age she’s just beginning to figure life out – so my advice: give her plenty of support, give her love, and never give up on her. No matter how hard it might seem some days, never give up on that lovely girl, and you just might be able to save her.”
And that was it. I only spent two days in the hospital before being cleared for departure, and before I knew it, I was halfway across the country in a new home. I spent the rest of that summer indoors, reflecting on my regret as it began to eat me alive. That worst part about it was that I knew it was destroying me – but I didn’t care, I wanted it to consume me. Every single thing about the old Sasha Taylor died with her family the day she decided her phone was more important than their safety. I’m convincing myself that the only way I’m ever going to get past what I have done is to start completely anew. But it’s really hard to start over again when everything that you used in the first place is fucking broken.
Then there was that text. The once subtle thought was now deafening. Who sent that text? How they have possibly known that would’ve happened? Contrary to my first suspicions I checked that notification that was sent at the moment of the collision. It was from Charlie Myers, a friend at school.
“Happy birthday Sasha! Watch plenty of movies today!”
I dismissed this text slowly, after 2 months of not hearing from that unkown caller it would take the back seat behind my regressions, rarely ever do I think about it.
So, this is my life now. I take every day one step at a time. I take the bus to school. I somehow manage to find the motivation to go to class. I avoid all personal interaction at every available opportunity. I go home and watch TV with my cousin and my quirky uncle. And I go to bed. I have no friends, and no confidence to achieve anything. I live a hollow existence, I see no purpose in life anymore, but still, something inside me beckons to keep living.
I don’t know what it is that drives me; I would like to think that my family, even knowing I killed them, would still want me to live on for them. All I do know is that I’m looking for a reason to live, even if I’m not trying very hard, I’m looking. Maybe I’ll find it eventually, or maybe it will find me.
The only things that survived that crash were my body, my cell phone, and somehow the gift from my father; it was as scratchless as myself. I guess I held onto these things to remind me of what was lost, what I’ll never get back.
About that gift my mother gave me, it was a car, a red Jetta.