It’s late. You’ve finally gotten off work, and you’re driving home. You didn’t realize how tired you were until your car was moving along the narrow back road. Realizing your eyelids are heavy, you try to hold them open, though it grows more difficult with every second.
“Just a little further,” you tell yourself. Just a few more minutes from home. But your tiredness is overpowering. You catch yourself with your eyes closed, and your car has drifted slightly over the line.
You shake your head, hopefully shaking the sleep out. You roll down the windows, and turn up the radio. You drum your fingers on the steering wheel to a song you hate, trying to keep the beat.
The quiet voiced DJ announces a ballad, one you’ve not heard in a while. You hum along without realizing your eyelids have won the battle. Your eyes closed before you realize it.
When you finally jerk out of your stupor, you’re in the wrong lane. You quickly maneuver into your lane, when there’s a flash in front of your car, and you hear a thump as your car drives over the mysterious object.
In fear, and keeping all theories of what it was out of mind, you slam on your breaks, tires squealing against asphalt. When you’ve come to a complete stop, you pause, breathing deep, getting your nerves together.
Finally, you turn around and look over your shoulder. You see nothing.
Curious and frightened, you get out of your car, and walk around the front. There is a dent in the black pant of your front bumper, but nothing too serious. You walk around the back looking for whatever it was that you hit. There is nothing.
You walk several yards, searching, and find no trail, no evidence of the incident. Just a dented front bumper and some minor scratches in the black paint.
You scratch your head, but climb back in your car, now completely awake. Within minutes you are home and safely in bed.
A few days pass, nothing out of the ordinary. If it weren’t for the curious dent, you might assume the whole incident might have been a dream. A bad dream. But one evening after work, you’re watching the nightly news.
“Local police are asking for your assistance in locating a missing person.” An image of the presumed missing person flashes on screen. “He was last seen three days ago, leaving for an evening walk. Authorities say they currently expect no foul play, but confirm they rule nothing out. If you have any information as to the whereabouts of this man, you may call the police at the following number.”
As the number flashes on screen, along with a missing poster of the man, you see his address and it dawns on you. He was last seen less than a quarter of a mile from where you’d been when you feel asleep at the wheel.
Suddenly you recall the image that appeared in your headlights just before the terrible thumps under your car wheels.
Kathy Freeman said:
i like the bit about trying to stay awake to the music you hate!
Bethany Hatheway said:
I like how you’ve done this in second person. Struggling to stay awake at the wheel- or any time, really- is something everyone can connect with. It really pulls the reader in.
I wrote it based on my own drive home. Back in November there was a man, I didn’t know him, who got in an accident, and died instantly. I drive past that spot every single night. It’s a really sharp curve, with one side a rock wall, the other is a steep drop off, only a guardrail to hold you back. I just recently started driving, and I’m paranoid of accidents.