Dust settles on the sidewalk here, a chill in the air whistles through her hair and her hands. It’s all over now; of that she is entirely certain. The sparks are flying all over the place, catching the wind and shooting upward until they are nothing, back to dust, settling into the concrete. The road is clear now, “all clear” the man said, clapping his hands together as clouds of smoke rose from his dirty gloves. They sent people out to clean up the mess.
He hadn’t done it on purpose obviously.
A term she no longer recognizes. What does it mean? That thing everyone sees, the thing that she cannot.
The crowd is gone, the spectators growing bored of nothing but charred metal and policemen with notepads and cameras. The ones with the cell phones pointed at the wreckage, oohing and aahing as the flames shot up into the sky, a mans voice in the background:
“I hope no one’s in there.”
Hope. What is hope for her now? She saw it on the news first, the wreck in the middle of the interstate, the thing had gone up in flames. It was just the one car, and newscasters debated over how such a machine just explodes. She looked at it like them, almost enjoying the fire as it’s grainy image burned on the screen.
“These things just happen.”
That’s what the mechanic said. Tasked to handle the wreckage, the hood of the car twisted, looking like an open mouth with drip-metal teeth. He said the check engine light had been on for months, he left a note. She had forgotten. They tell her they hope she will get over this.
More than expected.
It just happens.
The words feel funny, shrill. They swill around in her mind, she can taste them, they are bitter. Hope that he will come home and he won’t. Check the obvious light on the dash you idiot, you fucking moron, you asshole.
More than expected, consumed, dead, ruined everything ruined. Life up in smoke, life up in smoke with a faulty little red light. It just happens. It just happens. It just happened.
Do you know they tell you the same things? They tell everyone the same things when they are broken and shattered and destroyed. They tell you they are sorry, and will put cold hands on you that will make your skin crawl.
They are not sorry. The words come out sticky, full of pity and regret. Out of drivelling mouths they will put this away and never think of it again except in the context of a cautionary tale. Because that is what they have become. They will be cold, they will not let her see what is left of him, what broken ashes remain even though she said yesterday “lets take a trip together, it’s been awhile.”
They hand her things, they ask her for proof of identification, they ask her what happened.
Isn’t it obvious?
It just happens. It crashes and burns and it explodes into nothingness, and the red light just pops up one day and decides it’s going to give up. And all she is left with is cold hands and sterilized advice and I am on fire.
Isn’t it obvious?