Harold hears the wreck before he sees it. He gasps as he takes in the scene. The two cars are totaled. He is the only other car on the road. He flings the car door open with such force his arm teeters out of its socket.
The panic takes him back to over a year ago.
It was a Tuesday. The air was beginning to turn cold. The leaves were starting to fall. The road was slick with moisture. She had left in the middle of the night to clear her head. She had said she wasn’t happy anymore, that she felt trapped. She had said she couldn’t take the way he looked at her, like he thought she was something special. She had said she just didn’t know.
He got the call early that morning. The kids were still in bed. The other driver had been drunk, they said, had probably never even realized he was driving in the wrong lane. It was dark, they said, she probably hadn’t even seen him coming. It was quick, they said, she probably hadn’t even felt any pain.
Drunk. Dark. Quick.
Harold thinks of her as he sprints to the two cars, hoping without hope that perhaps he can save someone this time. He stops.
The kids didn’t believe him at first. They’d cried when it set in that she was really gone. She hadn’t been all that great of a mother; she’d spent most of the last few months in her room, but she was theirs. Harold cried too. Quietly, when they weren’t looking. She hadn’t been all that great of a wife; she’d spent most of the last few months in her room, but she was his.
Now he sees the bright red convertible she had insisted on having in flames. He knows, though he cannot see it, that there is a pine air freshener dangling from the broken mirror. The other car, a faded blue pickup truck, burns quietly. Inside, someone moans; there is a broken beer bottle near the smashed window.
He runs faster, hoping without hope. He sees a flash of blonde hair tangled in the wreckage and knows. He runs to her, not feeling as the flames singe and burn his skin and the hot metal brands him.
Her body is mangled, but her chest still rises and falls. She looks up at him.
Harold does not think what he should, that this is impossible, that his wife is dead and the dead do not come back to life.
Instead, he smiles.
He doesn’t remember how or why he is here this late at night. But he remembers the past year with clarity.
The denial. The pain. The grief.
It is a Tuesday. The air is just beginning to turn cold. The leaves are just starting to fall. The road is slick with moisture.
And somewhere, deep in the folds of time, they receive a second chance.
Danielle Bordelon currently studies International Studies and Spanish at Southern Methodist University. She lives in an apartment with three friends, hundreds of abused books, and an overactive imagination. Danielle has dreams of being an author, along with other strange dreams like dancing avocados. Her short story “After” has recently been accepted for publication in Black Fox Literary Magazine for the Summer 2013 issue.