Limping from the crash site, she resumed the inventory she’d begun while hauling her legs from the driver’s seat: legs, two arms, fingers and thumbs, head, scalp, blood. She’d been driving fast on the rain-slick freeway to the casino, sorting through the cookies in a lidless tupperware on the passenger’s seat, singing with the radio, looking for the one with the most chips. Suddenly her lane was red with brake lights. Cookie between her teeth, she kissed the car ahead of her as she passed it on the left, skidded away and steered into the skid, kissed another, skidded and steered and kissed a third, this one hard, enough to make her spill her drink, like a loose bride at a receiving line. It made her laugh. When she had to choose again, she swerved onto the gravel shoulder in order to live, across the little grassy green, and into the oncoming lanes. She’d always known something would make her stop. Now she knew it was the left headlight of the dark sedan. The impact was nothing she could have prepared for. A moment of blackness followed. The roof and the side she could see of her car through the drizzle were crumpled: by what, she couldn’t say. It lay smoking beside a pile of noisy wreckage. The earth leading to it was scraped clean. In her head, a very loud high-pitched tone told her nothing, but she did remember, like revelation, a moment of exhilarated coming to be. When had that been? The scene lay there like a deck of picture cards, face up. She couldn’t see the sense in them, or how to arrange them in suits. Chips of glass on the shoulder glinted with firelight. Something was burning. She needed a cigarette. She needed another car.

Copyright © August 25, 2007 David Hodges