Thursday, January 20, 2005

Russian roulette.

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from school today. As I was checking out, one of the cashiers called, "Here comes the snow!" And like little kids, we all ran to the big windows and looked outside.

It was beautiful. Huge, perfect white flakes, coming down in slow motion, like in a romantic movie. The store's muzak system was even playing soft, sentimental music. The bag-boy put his arm around the old lady who kept the books. We were all entranced.

For a few moments, a big group of total strangers were united, as we all stood there and silently watched that slow-motion, too-beautiful-to-be-real snow. The same goofy child-like smile was on everybody's face. It was one of those stopped-time moments. The whole world was peaceful and kind. I'll remember it always.

And then, as we watched, a big heavily-loaded truck ran the red light and blind-sided a minivan that had the green light. It had started forward and was beginning to turn into the store's parking lot. The truck hit the van so hard that it exploded and burst into flames. Black oily smoke filled the air, and suddenly there were no more large white beautiful snowflakes. There were, instead, large black horrible ash-flakes. Still coming down in slow motion.

A Burger King fun meal toy landed right in front of the grocery store window.

It happened so fast. Nobody saw it coming. Nobody could comprehend that it had even happened.

And it wasn't even loud. We didn't even hear the impact because of the instant explosion, and it wasn't loud either. It was almost like watching an old silent film of an atomic bomb experiment in the desert. It wasn't there, and then suddenly it was, blooming up from the sand like an ethereal mushroom.

For the first time, I can sort of, almost, barely, comprehend the element of total surprise that survivors of terrible catastrophes talk about. "We had no warning. It happened too fast."

I can see that now.

I think it is the fun meal toy and what it no doubt means, that affects me the most.

Wrecks are seldom written up, in this city's papers. I hope they don't do this one, either. I don't want my mind to be able to put any names to what I saw. I don't want to know the name of the truck driver who ran the red light. And I especially don't want to know the name of the child who was eating chicken fingers with one hand and holding a fun meal toy in the other.

Sometimes, I think life is a kind of Russian roulette.

If it wasn't for the occasional flashes of beauty, I wonder if any of us could stand it.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:21 PM | |


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