There weren’t many thoughts or flashing memories during it, just a spiraling car heaving into lanes as most cars avoided an alternate present.
I don’t know what happened, everything was fine. There was a puddle. I hit it, hydroplaned and jumped a curb. Jerked the wheel back to the highway. Then the spiraling. I can’t control the car anymore, it’s a lump of metal streaking around other cars. When we hit the first car, both of our heads jerked to the left, John’s cushioned by the conditioned air from the passenger’s seat, my temple colliding with the seat belt adjuster.
You’re fine, get up. You’re faking this. You’re fine.
I’m so tired.
You’re not. Get up. Get up!
“Ant? ANT!” My hands are slipping into my lap, I can feel everything draining from my body. My head slumps forward onto the wheel. No memories. No slow motion.
Nothing but darkness and my voice.
Get up! You’re fine! Stop faking!
I want to but I can’t. I’m helpless. We smash into the rear of another car, hurdling us across another lane. I just want it to stop. I just want to sleep.
My vision is closing in on me, I can only see my own lap. The road has become a mystery; I’m just not there anymore. I swear I’m trying to level my head, trying to get myself upright and get us back into a lane but no matter how much I try, the strength isn’t there. Have I given up? Inky black begins at the corner of my vision, filling up my eyes and finally taking over everything.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry, John.
“Ant? Ant are you ok? Oh shit. ANT?!”
“Imuhkay.” My eyes aren’t opening but we’re stopped. I still don’t feel anything, I can’t see anything, and John’s voice is muffled behind the intense ringing;
but we’re stopped.
My thoughts are slow to the situation, every word is practiced by moving lips before uttered to John now on my left side. I can feel the breeze come through the opened driver’s door. We’re stopped.
“We hit two cars. We almost went into the swamp. Are you ok?”
I know he’s talking but I can’t hear it, I can’t understand it.
My eyes still aren’t open; my hands are still in my lap. I’m a prop. Without my words, I’d be dead.
“No! Ant, No. Gotta stay awake man. An ambulance is coming, you’ll be fine. Just stay with me, man.”
I can’t be in too much danger. I can’t be so bad. I’ve read the stories. There’re white lights and memories. There’re pictures of everyone you love. There’s forgiveness and apologies, maybe even God. All I saw was darkness; smothering and eternal.
This voice isn’t John’s. It’s somebody else’s.
“What’s your name? Tell me your name?”
I can’t. My lips move but nothing comes out at first.
“34 Garden Court South.”
“Where are you from? What’s your address?”
“I, uhm, Ijus’needtuhsleep.”
“NO. You can’t sleep! What’s his name?”
“Anthony.” There’s John’s voice. Why won’t my eyes open. Why can’t I just go to sleep for a little.
“Anthony, listen. You can’t go to sleep. You have to stay with me. You hit my car, an ambulance is on the way. Stay with me, ok?”
I can feel myself slip. I can feel the dark waves crashing over me and his pulling me back to shore. I don’t know who he is. I can’t see him. I can’t see anything. I know I’m in my car but I don’t know where we are. What did John say? A swamp? I forgot. Doesn’t matter. Darkness. The force is hard to deny, it’s relaxing. Like going to sleep. Sleep. Just a nap. We’re stopped. Sleep.
The first time my eyes open, I’m surrounded by people in white wearing masks. I can’t think. I don’t know what to. Don’t have time to. A mask is placed over my mouth and nose and I’m put back into the dark. The Nothing. Where are the memories? My family? Friends? Where’s God? I can’t be that bad.
When I come to the second time, my family and John are at the foot of the bed watching me. I’m hooked up to machines. I’m tired.
“This sucks.” They laugh. I must be ok. I fall back to the pillow again and sleep. We’re stopped.
“You suffered trauma to your head. We’re going to keep you over night and perform a CAT scan in the morning. How are you feeling?”
Everything aches. My back feels stiff, my legs are rubber. I can sit up, but barely. My eyes are open but still shifting between blurs and separated colors.
They wake me up every 3 hours. They give me a shot and let me fall back asleep. I’m wheeled down a few floors and given a CAT scan. I have to stay still, that’s easy. It’s loud. I can still barely see.
I’m released the next day, told to take it easy for a few days and I should be fine.
I try not to think about the incident.
Whose voice was that? Was it me? Who kept me awake?
I don’t know who to thank. I don’t have a face; just voices. The one in my head. John’s. The man we hit. I don’t have memories; just the car, my lap, my darkness. I saw my family and John, but only when my eyes were finally open. Are they open now? I think they are. It doesn’t matter. They were there. I was there. We kept me awake. I’m awake now. I don’t need sleep now. We’re stopped.