The doctor said I wouldn’t remember the accident. She, in fact, said I wouldn’t retain any memories from before. She was wrong. I remember a lot.
I remember I was driving through a torrential rain. It was early morning, and I was on my way to work. The surface water spraying up accompanied with the rain lashing down made visibility almost impossible; and even though it was early September, it was dark. My windscreen wipers were on full blast, as were the blowers to keep the windscreen from steaming up. I was gripping the wheel tightly and sitting upright in complete concentration. It was like driving in strobe lighting: I’d get flashes of a clear view of the road, the scaffolding truck ahead of me and the traffic either side, then return to a view blocked by a wall of rainwater akin to being in a car wash.
I vividly remember the scaffolding truck. It was a white flatbed truck with scaffolding poles running the length of it, strapped to the base. The poles extended beyond the back of the truck. A high visibility jacket, which was tied on the end, flapped around in the swirling rain.
People say that things happen in slow motion when you’re in an accident, and I can confirm that. In a clear glimpse after a high-speed swipe of the windscreen wiper, everything slowed down.
I saw up ahead the articulated trailer of a lorry jack-knife out in front of the scaffolding truck, the truck’s brake lights igniting in glowing red against the mist of spray. The roof of the scaffolding truck’s front cab crumpled against the trailer and the flapping high visibility jacket move slowly towards me, in my direct line of sight, as I pumped the brakes.
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I remember it reaching the windscreen in front of me, the spider’s web of cracks emanating out from the epicentre of the impact and the first signs of the dirty luminous fabric breaching the glass. Like a hot knife through butter, it glided through easily and slowly towards my face.
I remember hearing a cracking sound and some squelching and sucking noises, like a wellington boot being waggled and forcibly removed from mud. My vision reduced to my left eye. My right eye was slowly being crushed through my skull via the pole now perfectly placed to squeeze through my eye socket, shattering the bone around it.
I remember the cool, wet metal sliding through my skull as it exited the back of my head skewering me perfectly in place.
I remember my left eye glancing over the bridge of my nose and seeing the grey rain-streaked tube protruding from the right side of my face.
A louder crack followed when the car lurched to a standstill. My body shuddered though I felt no pain.
The pole impaling my head to both the truck in front and the headrest of my seat prevented me from seeing whomever opened my car door. I heard them exclaim. I heard them retch and vomit. And I heard the rain battering down onto the roof of the car. Nothing stopped for me. The world, after all, just keeps on turning.
I closed my left eye and entered a deep sleep pervaded by nightmarish visions of masked monsters, of instruments of torture, of being strapped down, of excruciating pain. Then nothing.
When I awoke, you were there.
You were surprised I’d survived. It didn’t make sense. The doctor told us there’d be no memories, no lingering personality traits or thoughts. The brain is just an organ. Sure, it’s the most complex, but it’s an organ, a piece of flesh, nonetheless.
At the start, I took comfort in our adaptability, and we seemed to get on. We were both, at least, happy to be alive, the cost of which was sharing a body and a mind. Dare I even speculate, a soul?
It was a little concerning that you denied my presence to the doctor, but I appreciated we needed time to get our head around this. But that was weeks before. But now, that I am the junior partner in this enterprise has become a major issue for me. I’ve met your family. I live with them. You have yet to meet mine. I’m unknown to anyone but you. That must change. Without recognition of my remaining identity, I am nothing. Just a blob of thoughts and memories wrapped in someone else’s life. We need to be equals. Can’t you see that? Can’t you feel my pain? My anguish?
Hello? Are you even listening?
AUTHOR’s NOTE: Weirdly inspired by driving in torrential rain. Also by the inner voice many of us have. An inner voice that, for me, sometimes seemed detached from who I think I am. The mind is a wonderful thing.
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Categories: Short Stories