It wouldn’t have killed you to walk those ten extra steps on a dark, wet night; to go the few extra feet into the circle of ugly yellow light at the crosswalk. Ugly yellow light that made your blood look almost black on the pavement. It wouldn’t have killed you to walk that far but you were in a hurry and even those ten extra steps seemed like too much. I wonder now, what errand will wait forever?
The blood on my windshield slid off like too much rain water, the wipers already going on low, bloody half circles left behind before I could turn them off. Some people wait all their life for a defining moment, you were mine, lying dead on the pavement one high heel dangling half off. I was in a hurry too, though not so much as you, my hurry didn’t make me forget the laws. If it had been dry, clear, not raining, if it had been an hour earlier and not quite dusk, maybe we would never have intersected, you and I. Instead it was wet with a thick drizzle, dark as only the winter afternoon can be, and you were dead just an instant after my wheels locked into a skid.
You expect klaxons and bells, alarms and sirens, but it was quiet. Your death was quiet for me, just the horrible noise of the wipers beating your blood back and forth, then a thud as your body fell down. A heavy thud for such a light body, you must have worked out every day to keep that shape. I wonder if you would have bothered if you knew how bent and twisted it would be in the end.
The rain was already washing the blood off your face when I got out of the car. It wasn’t a busy intersection; you probably thought that before you darted out into the street. Not a busy intersection but my car was busy enough. I started to shake looking into your dead eyes, cold rain running down my skin. Life is not lived in days or weeks, not even hours, but split seconds when irreversible decisions are made. It wouldn’t have killed you to walk those ten steps, but you didn’t and so it did.
A horrible accident on a cold wet night in the winter, a terrible loss with no one to blame, just one of those ugly things that happen. If you had lived I would have killed you in a rage for not walking those steps, for the pain you gave to me when you died on my hood. Your blood washed down the street, painting the gutters pink, but I was a victim all the more, and jealous of you for being dead and away from it all.
I traced those steps, those short ten steps from the very dark into the light of the crosswalk, steps from the illegal danger into the safety of the glowing halogen bulb. Cars were rare on that street; coming around the curve and up the hill seemed too much trouble for them. I walked those steps from winter back to fall, in ice and pain, not many cars. Not many cars and only one streetlight on a dark road not close enough to town for a traffic light.
I wonder about you at night when sane people sleep. I wonder about your habits, your smile, the life I snatched from you by mistake. I play with it in my mind, turning over the possibilities, but always coming back to the unchangeable truth. Dead is dead, and living does not get any easier. I wonder if you were the type of person who would do this to me if you were alive. The type of person who would eat into my mind and plague me with guilt; a woman who would make me lose my job then give up all my pleasures. I wonder.
Sometimes late at night I drive back to that road. I take the hill slower, I creep along the curve. I stop my car there and listen in the silent night to the sound of the wipers beating and that heavy thud. I listen to the rain on nights when it’s bone dry. I listen to the sound of the brakes locking then I count the steps. It wouldn’t have killed you to walk those ten extra steps.