He had to do it. He had to make himself give her the flowers he’d bought.
He’d begged her not to drive. Begged her to let him take her home. She was mad that his ex-girlfriend showed up at a party he didn’t even want to attend. She screamed and hit him in the driveway, telling him he could go straight to hell with trying to tell her what to do. Their friends did their best to calm her but it only made things worse.
When he made another attempt, she slapped him. Hard enough to send his glasses flying into the grass.
Without a word, he went to search because he couldn’t see anything without them. He knew she needed a minute to calm down. She’d come from a real hard childhood and sometimes, he had to be more patient than with any other girl he’d dated before.
She was worth it. He loved her. The potential of what they had meant more than the rare, admittedly explosive, arguments they had over things he often didn’t understand.
As he picked up his glasses a few feet away, he heard her car door slam. Seconds later, she peeled away toward the intersection. He raced to his own vehicle, knowing he had to know she made it back to her dorm at least. She hadn’t been drinking but when she got mad, she sort of blacked out.
By tomorrow, she’d be reasonable again and ashamed of her behavior. It was always the way of it.
He followed her car, staying back far enough not to make her upset, and wondered why she was getting on the highway when her place was the other direction. He merged into traffic a few car lengths behind her.
When he lost her on the other side of a semi, he frowned in confusion. A few moments later, he realized she’d somehow gotten behind him. He could barely make out her face in the rearview mirror. His thoughts were in chaos, his brain unable to work fast enough to keep up with what was happening.
She rammed him at full speed and he felt the back of his smaller car lose contact with the road. His last memory was the side of the semi careening toward his windshield.
He spent three months in the hospital. Her car became caught up in the accident she initiated and she was killed instantly.
Unaware, he missed her funeral a few days later.
In the months since his release, he struggled to comprehend the reason. He wanted so badly not to hate her for ruining his chances as a baseball player. When they had to reattach your pitching arm, throwing any more perfect games was a thing of the past.
His father drove him to the cemetery because the damage to his brain made it hard for him to judge distance now. Both of his parents were worried about his emotional state. He didn’t blame them…he worried, too.
He tried not to hate her for destroying everything he’d once thought to be true. The hate was eating him alive. He knew it ruined his life…she wasn’t around to pay anymore.
He wanted to forgive her rage. He wanted to feel empathy for what amounted to insanity but didn’t know if he ever would.
Standing, he returned to his father’s car and slid into the passenger seat without a word.
The flowers were in his lap.
© Shayne McClendon