At the crossing

Three days into my work week and already I’ve reached the peak of exhaustion. I uttered nothing but my longing for a good night sleep throughout the day and distracted myself, as usual, with music in my ear.

As I walked home, however, the much awaited rest was snatched; postponed, rather, for a few more hours.

How could I forget? It was a cold December night with Christmas just around the corner, and almost everyone I know was counting down the last days of 2016 as it was deemed the worst.

I took a deep breath as I stared at blurred figures of nocturne beings, whose day, likewise, haven’t ended yet.

The next thing I know was everyone’s head had turned to me. I tried to read their expression, but my tired eyes only failed me. I never saw whether they were more worried than shocked or the other way around, but I was certain that they knew my accident seconds before I did.

To my right, I saw more people staring at me and as I turned the other way, I saw my feet under a bumper. Bleeding. Only then did I realize what had happened.

Horrified. I started breathing heavily. And soon after, I started crying. But it wasn’t out of pain. For sure.

A man was kind enough to help me stand and lend me the hand I needed while my mind was elsewhere. The driver, whose vehicle hit me, gave me a ride home, but was too afraid, I assume, to own up to his mistake before my parents. Hence, he left. And I let him.

My villain got away and I was an accomplice to his escape.

My parents would later scold me for it and even call me names as we were headed to the hospital. My sister, worried as she was, held my hand for comfort; I held hers back.

I wanted to tell her, though, she didn’t have to because none of those hurt me now.

I sustained nothing but minor bruises and wounds, which left scars so I would never again forget. And, thankfully, my spine which took the worst hit was unharmed.

On the following day, I called in sick. Given my situation, you would think I had taken my absence so easily. A rational person would have taken the chance to get the rest both the mind and body needed; but my mind isn’t wired the same way.

I grew up running alongside paranoia, driven by anxiety, and this is why ‘peace of mind’ remains foreign to my dictionary.

Maybe time will come when I’ll learn what it means, how it feels; but that is not today. Not after this accident, which by the way, wasn’t the first.

I barely remember it now. In fact, I was reminded only later in college when the memory knocked the doors of my conscious mind again.

My then classmates noticed how, when crossing roads, I would stop to let cars pass, even though we stand at a safe distance.

I also couldn’t help it, but my free hand would always find someone to hold, my knees would lock and my feet would get stuck. It never worried me as I thought I was only taking precautions. I never thought it to be anything alarming, until people started asking.

I hardly remember anything, but pieces of my childhood memories remind me of standing next to my lolo after an early morning walk, my mom was on the other side of the road. She waved at us and I thought she was gesturing for me to come near her. That was when I ran towards her. That was how I ended up getting hit, on the same road, only 11 years earlier.

Episodes of dreams would later haunt me. I’d dream of the accident, but instead of finding myself defeated on the floor, I’d see an angel (or so I thought) take me and fly to places.

The dreams had been so remarkable that I grew up thinking the accident had always been just that — a dream. My take was that the trauma had been too much, too grave, that my young mind repressed it through dreams.

Up to now, my feet still stop at the sound of cars passing, my knees would lock even by the slightest movement in periphery, and my hands would still search for something to hold when crossing the street.

The trauma will always be haunting and it doesn’t help that my mind believes even bad things come in threes. So I watch out every time I cross the same road because we’ll never know when the third will hit me.