The drive of our new house was taken up by a rusty skip and bags of cement, so I parked in the cul-de-sac over the road and made my way over. From the pavement opposite I took in the great structure of the house, naked without its old roof and felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I took a deep breath and smiled all the same. New beginnings.
I looked right to cross the road and saw a blue car further down the road. Instinct told me there was plenty of time so I made to cross, my mind on our renovation project, our new home. A few steps away from the pelican crossing island, there was a bang from the direction of the car and sudden distinct revving noise that didn’t belong on a residential street. Cars were supposed to slow down not speed up, yet the noise sounded like a drag racing car acceleration furiously ahead. I instinctively sped up, turning my head to locate the source of the sound that was suddenly upon me, but all I caught was a flash of blue and a hard whoosh of air just centimetres from my back. I grabbed the central railing and whipped my head round to follow the car. It was hurtling impossibly fast towards an equally impossible scene. Time slowed and a cold rush of powerless dread swept over me as I could only witness the inevitable. The narrow road ahead was lined on both sides with parked cars, making only enough room for one car to pass. Had this been clear, the blue car could have continued straight ahead, but the gap it needed was filled with a slowly approaching car about 50 feet away.
Red lights shone out from the rear of the blue car, pointlessly warning of the danger left behind. Tyres screamed as they skidded on tarmac. The car swerved maniacally but its back end slammed into the corner of the first parked car, leaving the back wheel of the parked car perfectly perpendicular to its original position. The blue car then ricocheted from the impact and still screeching, veered straight towards the front of the oncoming car which had stopped completely. It swerved once more, heading for the tiny gap between the parked and oncoming car, and like a drunk devoid of all balance, slammed into a another car on the left and skimmed three more and spun anticlockwise, its far side slamming into the oncoming car. Then it simply stopped.
The bursts of metal on metal, breaking glass and skidding tyres was replaced by silence. All of the cars were static. The smell of rubber filled the air and parallel lines decorated the road like calligraphy, showing the trail of fury and panic.
In a flash, people were appearing out of houses, running towards the scene of impact, running straight past me, completely unaware that they could have been running to me. Visions flashed in my mind. My body thrown into the air like a rag doll, landing contorted on the black and bloodied road outside our new, roofless house. My limbs no longer felt like my own, numbed with possibility. One second had separated me from where I stood and where I could have been lying motionless. One second between my new life and no life at all.
But people were running past me.
Unaware of what could have been.
With no reason why.