around the corner

I went to the grocery store and Wendy’s before picking up my wings and fries. I was five minutes from home.

The Geländewagen in front of me was silver. I remember thinking, “There are two of these in town?” The other one was parked behind either a pharmacy or a chiropractor’s office downtown–it was hard to know which.

It was a G550. I thought, “How much does someone have to make to buy one of these? What would a payment look like?” It was the silver that all Mercedes in the holiday commercials were colored. “$85,000,” I thought. “They start at $85K.” I was wrong. That model starts at $101,000.

We approached the first stop sign, and I thought, “I picked up the food just in time. Traffic is starting to suck.”

The g-wagon increased its distance, so I checked my speedometer. I was going about five under. At the second sign, there was a little more traffic going my and g-wagon’s way, so we sat for a few seconds. He pulled out, and I looked back to see if any traffic was coming as I drifted up to the sign. Nobody. I eased down on the accelerator. I was thinking about which bag I would grab first when I parked in front of the house.

I started thinking about sitting on the couch, and smiling, and laughing. The G550 had started to round the curve ahead. Then, there was too much red light facing me. I didn’t understand what was happening. I looked left. The headlights of two cars gained and lost intensity as they passed me. Still there was red light facing me. I didn’t know why.

The Mercedes was stopped, and its brake lights were strong. “LED, maybe?” I thought, and then pushed down my brake pedal, hard. He was stopped, and I was going to hit him.
I was moving too fast. Those red lights were coming at me too fast. “He’s stopped. Completely stopped, and you’re going to hit him, ” I thought. I looked right. There wasn’t anywhere to go. I was moving toward the red light too fast, and there was nowhere to go. I pushed my foot down harder. The front end started to dip. That inexplicable feeling of my vehicle’s rear end starting to lift consumed me.

The red lights were too bright.
I felt my brakes reach their limit, and I started to picture the rear of that silver Mercedes caved in, my airbags deploying as metal reshaped and twisted. The red was too bright.
I gripped the steering wheel and felt my arms grow hot with blood. I turned the wheel to the right, and felt a distant impact as the front of my Acura pushed into the G550’s bumper.

I saw four flashes of tan and brown. One on our left, three on our right. Deer. Goddamn deer. Of course. The Mercedes had reached a full stop, and I had not. I didn’t text while driving, and I hadn’t had a drop to drink, and I was two blocks from home, and I couldn’t stop.

Then, I was still. No airbags deployed. The Mercedes didn’t move. I heard a thump, and I knew we had collided. I took a breath that lasted for too long. I signaled a right turn and pulled off the main road. The silver Mercedes did the same. I looked at his bumper from my driver’s seat. I saw a discoloration–it was a crack. “Christ,” I thought. “This is going to run me.”

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