From the 9th journal on pages 1881-1883:
“Notes from the Scene of the Crash”
As my mother quite dramatically claims, “these are the bruises from the safety features that saved her life,” while pointing to the outlines of where the seatbelt and airbags left mottled purple and green and blue impressions on my skin. I hate feeling like a spectacle. I suppose it’s no different from me claiming the figure shaped bruise left by the side airbag is the outline of whoever protected me from serious danger in the accident.
I grabbed my journal, my fanny pack, another bag that was empty except for my computer charger, and that red robe nicolas left in my car.
I sat on the ground in shock; unable to think of what to do.
One minute, I was almost there, almost at work, and the next I was spinning out of control, and next- impact. I think I dropped my phone, and I can’t remember picking it up but somehow it was back in my hand seconds later. I could remember Nic’s panicked chorus of “No no no no no” all blending together, but I couldn’t seem to speak words to him, it was like I forgot he could see or hear me entirely. I remember scanning the floor of my car for my journal, not being able to make sense of the disarray. My car is always some degree of mess, but never like this. Nothing was where it was supposed to be. I can remember registering the sight of my rearview mirror on the floor of the passenger seat side with shock and alarm, and I can remember thinking, “That’s not supposed to be there- why is that there? How did that get there?” I grabbed my fanny pack first and essentially fell out of my car onto the grass while opening the door, only to realize in panic that journal was not where it usually is in my fanny pack, and I did not hesitate for a single second to go back for it. I picked up the other items then, without any real regard to what I was holding and throwing over my shoulder, other than an acute awareness that nothing I had grabbed so far was my journal. I keep picturing the wreck of my car lighting on fire and somehow exploding and I scrounge more desperately for the green moleskiene. When I find it I move away from the car so fast that I practically fling journal down into a puddle of what I thought was dirty rain water, and later discovered, upon smelling the pages of my stained book, had actually been my car’s own internal fluids, pools of gasoline emptying out from the vehicle forming rivers alongside the road, like blood exiting a fatal wound. There’s no coming back from this. I stare and stare at my car trying to remember where my computer is and frantically trying to understand how it’s gone missing.
I can’t feel my body, and I don’t care, if I had remembered where my computer was in time before the EMTs had gotten there, I would’ve been back to the car without another thought again.
I care about my life, I care about my body, but my writing is also my body; it’s the way I feel most alive, and there’s not much I wouldn’t do to protect that. When I realize where it is, the EMT’s have to fend off my repeated insistence that I go back for it, I beg them to let me grab it, I refuse to let anyone else grab anything for me. The EMT lifts up my left arm and I register there is pain there; I look down at my upper arm where he’s gently lifting and only see purple. I can still only think about my computer however, and I insist again that I need it; he promises I will get everything back but I can tell he doesn’t understand and I don’t believe him and when he goes to lift up my other limb and I can see that the elbow is suddenly twice the size of what it’s supposed to be but I don’t feel it all so as soon as I look away I’ve already forgotten about the purple egg swelling out from my right arm and I’m already asking for my computer again. I feel frantic and unwilling to be anything but frantic, I answer their questions hurriedly because I’m just trying to get to the part where I get to find my computer. Jen’s in the background gasping at the injuries as the EMT is still lifting and shifting my arms and legs. Someone asks me if I hurt my lip too and I say “what?” with no understanding of why I’m being asked that question and they inform me that I have blood on my mouth. I touch my lip but I don’t feel any pain. Jen asks if I want her to grab anything but I don’t want her going anywhere near my stuff so I stutter instead. I beg for my computer all through being lifted onto the stretcher, and then carried and lifted again into the ambulance. As we finally drive away, I am still unable to process the growing distance between me and wreckage.
Nicolas is on his way to meet me at the hospital but I am terrified he will get into an accident. I want to text him but I don’t want him to look at his phone. I wish for him to be in the ambulance with me but I am glad he is not, I am glad he was not in my car, and I am glad he was not there, even though none of this makes logical sense, because he was never going to be in my car on the way to work with me anyway. I am glad I was the only one.
I alternate between fear that Nic will not find me safely, fear that I will never see my computer again, and a disorienting numbness about what was and is happening around me. The man in the ambulance is talking to me, lightly joking around, probably trying to make me feel comfortable but I look at him like I’ve never seen another human being before, I don’t want him to be talking to me, he is not Nic and not my computer and has access to neither and therefore I can’t make sense of anything he is saying to me. I wonder briefly about how Nic would interact with him if this was him instead and I decide he would probably be far less rude with me and I decide I also am still not going to start making small talk with strange man now.
I call Nic instead.
Wait, no. That’s not the order. That’s not right. I called Nic first, and I called Nic the second I was in the ambulance, and then I had the thoughts about the man sitting next to me.
I realize more clearly in this moment- though I’ve been considering it the entire time I’ve been writing- that I’m undeniably an unreliable narrator. Nothing is untrue, except, for quite possibly, the exact order of events, which remains frustratingly elusive. I vacillate in certainty between what I actually grabbed first from my car; I left out entirely that I also grabbed the kindercare summer manuals and threw them in the grass behind me (because godforbid they blow up with my car), I believe I dropped my phone in the grass again when I first emerged from the wreck, and I remember now that there was a period of time that I wasn’t on Facetime with Nic, where he called my boss, which is the whole reason she arrived on the scene to begin with. There are many things I know for certain, visuals and smells and sounds and feelings, but the chronological happening of each memory is not one of them. The fragments seem to reorder and blend and rotate around and I know that they don’t make sense practically speaking, logically speaking, but they make a different kind of complete sense to me, even as they shift and merge; they make sense to me because they shift and merge. And even as everything reorganizes, everything remains just as true as it was from the first time I began to write all this down.
I am afraid often to admit my own unreliability because I don’t want it to deter from what I know and feel to be true. I’m realizing being an unreliable narrator does not have to make truth inaccessible.
I wish now that I knew who the man was that called 911. I can’t even remember his face. I wish I could’ve thanked him but it didn’t occur to me until much later. How did he feel for the rest of that day? Did he talk to anyone about it?
I’d be really interested in re-writing this to actually have references from diving into the wreck. I’m intrigued by the parallels I can find here, starting with journal and the. Book of myths.