How Many Years, How Many Tears
I won't give his name here, since I have no desire to cause his family any pain if they ever find my blog. But at 12:05 am on the 15th of May in a year now long past, I was awake and reading H.M.S. Ulysses by Alistair MacLean. I had quarreled with my best friend that day (technically, the day before). He'd come late in the year into my chemistry class, and was assigned a lab station on his own in the back row.
He hated to be alone, so he asked me to move back beside him and work with him. I did that, and the arrangement worked out well, from November into mid-May. Then, that Friday, when I walked back there, Michael barely had time to tell me he really needed to talk to me, when the teacher suddenly roared in my face, looking like a madman, telling me to move back to my assigned place or go to the office.
I tried to argue, but the teacher, usually a dry but pretty good natured guy, was acting like he had rabies. I have never, before or after that one day, seen him act that way, and I have no idea why he did. I moved, we mixed orange and yellow paints, and by the time the lab was over, everyone got into a sponge fight (which the teacher didn't say a word about). I tried talking to my friend then, but he was upset and tossed a few sponges my way.
I figured he'd cool down and we could talk Monday; everybody gets upset when they really need something and it doesn't work out. So I went home and by that night I was absorbed in my book, when a dull boom made me jump. Those of you who are rational may not believe this part, but an icy cold voice inside my mind said, "This is the worst thing that has ever happened to you." I thought the sound was an explosion, and ran to look out the window. I couldn't see flames in the sky, so I decided I was wrong.
I went back to reading. A short while later, I heard sirens, then chain saws. Now, I lived just a short distance from a very bad curve where there were accidents nearly every week. The sound I'd heard didn't sound like a car accident, but I figured there must have been one later, and so I ignored the sirens. As for the 'voice' I'd 'heard' - that was so crazy I shoved it out of my head.
The next morning, we were headed out to my grandfather's, and I saw a huge oak on the curve ripped out of the ground. I remembered the sirens, and figured there had been a bad accident. I still didn't think about what I'd heard, or the voice in my mind. At my grandfather's, we went to visit a "ham" operator friend of his, and talked about this ancient radio tube I was trying to find, so I could build a Tesla Coil.
I had fun, then we came home late that afternoon. My mother had stayed home, and heard news she didn't know how to tell me, so she left me a note. It read "There was a crash. The driver died. It was Michael [best friend's last name]." I was too stunned to think of much, but I did remember the voice, since it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.
The next few days included a lot of hurtful and humiliating details; I'll only recount the worst one here. I had been on the yearbook staff for three years; this was my junior year. I was slated to be an editor of the yearbook my senior year, then another teacher began a vicious campaign to snatch the job of advisor. I talked with my yearbook advisor, and we agreed, for the sake of the yearbook, I should stay on the staff, even though I wouldn't be an editor, and do what I could to make it good.
I was willing to do that, and prepared for a series of crucial meetings we had scheduled for that week, but of course I went to Michael's wake instead on Monday. I went to his funeral Tuesday, where a full third of students and teachers attended, then went to school and showed up at the yearbook meeting that afternoon. The advisor asked why I wasn't at the meeting the day before, and I told him I went to my best friend's wake. He told me I "wasn't dedicated enough" to be on the yearbook staff.
In the midst of all this, I had to listen to a guy I knew who lived on the curve tell me about the 'crazy kid' who got killed outside his house the night before (he didn't know who it was yet). And the rumours. I pieced together a few things. The sound I heard was from the fact that Michael was driving a new car, and it was moving pretty fast. When the car hit the tree, the air inside compressed and blew the doors off, and blew Michael out onto the ground.
Essentially, I'd heard the car blowing apart like a giant paper bag full of air. I finally heard about one guy who actually saw it happen, and he said it sounded like a giant bucket of nails being dropped from a huge height. Different descriptions, but the same noise. And I got very vivid pictures in my mind, of being inside the car beside Michael as it raced towards the tree. I also found out he was alive when the police got there.
They had to put a pressure suit on him to lift him, because he was like a jellyfish, but he lived long enough to make it to the hospital, where he died. He was always very alive, and looking at him in his casket, dead, he looked so very strange. For a while, I tried to believe he'd just fallen asleep; I even wrote one poem from that perspective (not one of the two below).
But there were a lot of reasons to wonder if he might have killed himself, and I started to wonder if the fact I hadn't talked to him when he'd needed it was the reason he might have driven his car into a tree. Something like that happens, you get pretty obsessed with it, and I thought about it over and over, until except for the details I've given you here, I couldn't figure out what was what.
Every year was still terrible, but I was starting to get over it, a little, six years later when one evening I was sitting in the church I went to then. This was in a town a little distance from where I lived; I knew almost no one there. In the middle of the service, I heard sirens. An icy cold voice in my mind said "You know who that is; this is just to let you know that I can still touch you."
The chances that I'd know who was in an accident in that area were very small, so I figured I was nuts, and I tried to shrug it off. Then, about half an hour later, a couple I knew and liked walked in and told everyone they'd just been in an accident down the street...
I certainly don't pretend to know what the voice I 'heard' was, and I don't "believe" in it, or "listen" to it - I hope I never hear the cursed thing again, and while I might not be able to shrug it off so easily if I ever do, I'm convinced it means me no good, so I wouldn't do what it told me to under any circumstances.
Still, probably many of you reading this now think I'm crazy. And, I will admit, if you ever have something like that happen to you, you do lose your mind a bit, or even more than a bit. I was years recovering from the wounds of all this. When Princess Diana died, the news mentioned that the car hitting the tunnel wall sounded like an explosion - that phrase was enough to trigger flashbacks.
Again, I struggled to recover, to push it all to the back of my mind - you don't exactly forget something like that. I've done pretty well, but tonight I realised what day it was, and I couldn't keep from posting two of the poems I wrote about the accident, long ago. I'm sorry they aren't very good poems, and I'm sorry this is one of the most badly written posts I've done. It was just something I needed to do.
This is not an attempt at fiction. It really happened; I don't know what the explanation for the 'voice' is, but I didn't imagine it. I've imagined a lot of things in my life; once or twice, I've let my imagination run away with me. I've learned to tell the difference.
(Note: I will try to post a story later, if I can pull together enough to manage that).