Last Wednesday I drove my car into a wall at 40 miles an hour and walked away from the twisted wreckage, lucky to be alive. My chest is black and blue, I can’t move my head too well, there’s a graze under my eye that I think might have been caused by flying glass, my wrists hurt from the impact and there are cuts on my hands. I’m stiff all over. George (the car) is a complete write off. The front end was crushed and smashed, the engine unseated and protruding up through the torn bonnet. The passenger side was crushed in as well (I had difficulty getting the door open. Couldn’t get out on the drivers side as it was jammed up against another wall). All the side windows were blown out. As I staggered away from the twisted heap of steaming metal, I could hear that the radio was still working.
A blonde woman came out from around the corner. A neighbour from a few houses down and across from me. I’d never seen her before;
“Did someone just crash their car?”
“Yeah. It was me. I was in it.”
“I think the brakes went,”
“Oh that happened to me.”
A second woman came over. The were both in their thirties, but the second was shorter and chunkier, with dark hair.
“Was that you? Are you alright?”
“I think so,” (patting myself down) “I was just going to call…”
“Oh you think you’re alright, but it’s tomorrow you’ll feel it,”
“Same thing happened to me, my knees got jammed under the steering wheel. I’ve been off work for 12 months.”
“Do you want a cup of tea?”
“It’s alright – I only live up there. I should call…er…”
“They live there,” said the blonde woman pointing at our house. The dark woman looked at our house.
“You should call the garage at the bottom.” she said.
“I’ll do that. Who’s house is this?”
“It’s Marks house. Do you know him?”
“No. I’ll call the garage then.”
“Do you want a cup of tea?”
“No – it’s OK. I just live up the road. That’s my house.”
Keep in mind that all the time this conversation was taking place, George was hissing away behind me. I wasn’t so sure we should all be standing so close. There was liquid dripping from the shattered front bumper. Could have been water. Could have been petrol. We had no way of knowing. Looking at the mangled car. I thought again about the seconds before impact – when all I hoped is that it would be over with quickly.
My brother Julian came over this morning and we went to look at the wall.
“Shit” he said. Which just about summed it up. The wall hadn’t collapsed, it had been decimated. It was a corner wall in a guy called Mark’s back garden, intended to hold in a rockery or flower display, about 3 and half feet high and made of stone. There had been a metal clothes pole in the ground next to it. This had been uprooted from its concrete base and broken in half. The yard was covered in broken stone.
“How the f**k did you do that?” he said.
“I don’t know.”
I dreamed last night that Julian had rebuilt the wall. Not only that, he’d landscaped the whole area with ponds and paths. Mark, who I had only met briefly when the breakdown truck was winching the car out of the alleyway alongside his house, was standing there with a huge smile on his face. “This is great this,” he said in my dream.