By Accident

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Her husband’s accident came first: they found his car bent like a fortune cookie around a tree. Emergency workers transported him to hospital, and the hospital transferred him to a physical rehabilitation clinic, and one month later the clinic sent him home to spend long narcotic days in bed. He could still walk, but walking caused him a great deal of pain. By this stage Sarah bought a replacement car, and at the doctor’s suggestion she found a more suitable bed for her husband. Their new bed could be tilted to an upright position. Sometimes Sarah entered the room and he’d be standing with his back against the mattress, his eyes closed, like a man frozen and awaiting revival in the future.

Sarah said her own accident was nothing by comparison. She buckled the boot of her car, that’s all, reversing out of her driveway and crashing into a parked truck. The night before had been one of their worst: Sarah called the hospital, and she rang the community nurse. Her husband’s pain scale moved between pretty bad and it’s pointless as he tried to lie in bed utterly without moving. Neither of them had slept. By the morning he was out of painkillers, and Sarah went out for more. She hit the neighbour’s truck and kept driving because right then she didn’t want to be the person who stopped and attended to every little mistake, trying to make things right again. She didn’t want to be the person always ready with a Band-Aid.

Once properly dosed, her husband said thank you and fell asleep looking pale and pure, almost a picture of calm, except for his deranged hair. It was a mistake to bring him home from the clinic. It was a mistake that started all of this. And so much else, she thought, now felt like the consequence of some error or accident.

The truck driver must have seen her dented car in the driveway. He came to the house and pressed the buzzer before banging on the door: his way of knocking sounded like, why, why, why? As if to say, why did you damage my property? Sarah sat in the unlit front room, listening, her ankles locked together on a rug.