Survivor by D.I. Jolly
The last thing Thomas said to his wife before climbing into his car was ‘I love you’.
She didn’t reply but he could tell by the look on her face that she was still concerned about the weather, and what could happen to them if something went wrong. He smiled reassuringly, wanting to comfort her, but didn’t want to restart the fight. So, he settled on the three simple words that he always knew he could say to her with confidence, because regardless of anything else, he loved her.
In the true nature of most road accidents, it’s less about your own driving abilities, as it is the driving of others. Thomas knew exactly how to handle his car in a storm, the 19-year old that shot screaming through the red light and slammed into the side of his car had had no idea what he was supposed to do. The two cars skidded off the road and while the teenagers ended up further away, Thomas’s had rolled more times and ended up on its roof.
The first thing he became aware of when he opened his eyes was the silence, and it sent his heart into overdrive, filling his system with an overwhelming flood of emotions and he screamed for help. A scream which witnesses reported as sounding more like a call to action, than a cry of desperation.
The last thing he remembered when his memory clicked back on was a screech of tyres and a bright light and then he found himself lying in a hospital bed. His one arm was in a cast, pins in the same side legs and a look on his wife’s face that told him everything he needed to know. It robbed him of his voice, as wave after wave of guilt and sorrow smashed against his heart turning it to stone while his soul seemed to get dragged under and drowned. She hadn’t wanted him to go, begged him not to go, to wait and go later, to give it a day, and he hadn’t listened.
He looked into her eyes and a single question sounded like a bell in his mind, clearing out all other thoughts.
He opened his mouth, but couldn’t find words or thought, or anything so he closed it again, feeling more of himself slip away and a pain shoot through him like nothing he’d ever imagined. For a moment he desperately searched for something to say, anything, but not even the three simple words came to mind, and every time he opened his mouth, nothing would come out. Each time he failed he could see deeper lines form on her face until he realised that in one swift mistake, he had robbed her of everything she loved and the guilt dug into his shoulders like a cloak of lead and thorns, dragging him ever downwards. She hadn’t started crying until the moment he turned his face away.
He couldn’t bring himself to speak to her, and she wouldn’t speak to him until he said something. A stupid stalemate that drove such a wedge between them, that within days they were practically strangers.
But she still sat there with him every day in silence, and he throwing himself out of bed into a wheelchair and using a crutch like an oar to push himself down the hospital corridors into the small chapel to hold her hand as a priest gave a short service for the teenager who hadn’t survived his surgery… and for the little girl who had died on impact.