After a lovely day in Atlanta, I didn’t know what the night would hold. I didn’t know what it would present to us. I didn’t realize that, before the night was over, a life once here would be gone.
My brother invited us to dinner so we went and got a table after the sun had vanished behind the tall buildings. In the restaurant, Daft Punk was playing and I jokingly sang along. Dinner was good and life was good. It wasn’t until the ride home that I knew that this night had the potential to end in disaster.
It started with a ring. Or, more appropriately, it began with a siren’s song.
In Greek mythology, sirens would lure ship captains to their death with their enchanting music. My friend Baker had a siren. His siren was conveniently pocket-sized. It sung and rung and lured him in.
I was exhausted after a full day and full belly. It was late and I was getting mad. Baker kept going back to that siren, using it to do everything from text to Facebook. He was the ship captain, he was the driver, he was the one responsible for my life and his own.
I sat in the passenger’s seat steaming. In my head I went over my speech on how incredibly stupid he was being. I wanted to tell him how my life was literally in his hands. Well, let me correct myself; in his one hand because the other was checking Facebook.
The more I thought about it the more irritated I became. I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t. Baker and I had been friends for at least seven years. Knowing him so well, for so long, I knew how he would react. Baker would have gotten angry. He would have told me how he does this all the time, how he has never had an accident.
I thought I couldn’t stop him even if I tried. The only thing that would have kept him from that cell phone siren would be me chunking the stupid thing out of the window. While that would have made an excellent point, I couldn’t afford to buy him a new one.
So I just sat there. I told myself to watch the road, to be alert. I was going to have to be the eyes on this trip because his were occupied. But, as I said, I was tired. My eyelids would fall and I would have to pry them back open. I wished and hoped that Baker would just put the siren away, so I could at least relax. He wouldn’t. Baker was tired too. I could see that his eyes were heavy. Both of us were quiet.
A loud thump jolted us. I had been watching the road when it happened, but I couldn’t react. It seemed so sudden.
“What was that?” Baker asked me, startled. There was something about to cross the yellow lines in the center of the road. It was white, almost glowing.
“An opossum,” I replied.
I think of the “what if’s.” What if Baker had hit a tree or another car instead of the opossum? What if we were the ones scraped across that road?
I think that even if no one was seriously injured, I would feel incredible guilt. If something had happened to Baker, guilt couldn’t describe what I would have felt. If something would have happened to me, I might not have ever written this.
Distracted driving is dangerous. Using personal pocket-sized sirens while driving, whether they are cell phones, iPods or MP3 players, could get a driver into a lot of trouble or kill someone.