[Short Story] - A life lesson - Entry to Art Prompt Writing Contest #8
The writing prompt was the following image:
“Holy f#&@!! I hope everyone is okay!” I yelled as I was running toward the site of the accident.
I couldn’t fall asleep that night. I had a math exam in two days and all I could think about was what a mess my life was. Wake up, go to college, come home, eat, study, then watch TV and drink until ultimately passing out on the couch.
I had had way too much booze to study, but apparently not enough to fall asleep, so I decided to go for a walk.
“You have no friends, no girlfriend, your grades are bad and you drink every day. Worse yet, you drink alone every day. Hell, if you at least went out and socialized. But then again, don’t all students live a life just like this? It’s the pressure. It must be. We’re not robots. We can only do so much,” I was talking to myself in 3rd person to try and be objective. Look at my life from different perspectives.
“If only you hadn’t messed up with Cindy, Peter, everything were different. It really wasn’t worth it. Sure, she was a solid 10, but she was your friends girlfriend. You don’t bang your friends' girlfriends. Well, yeah, but if she were the right one for him, she wouldn’t have gone with me anyway. True. True. But still, you can’t deny you tried really hard to get her.” I laughed out loud at my last sentence. I did try really hard to get her, even if only for one night.
“See? You can win over a girl if you wanted to. You’ve got everything it takes. You’re funny, smart and good looking.” I shook my head. “Who am I kidding? I’m a bitter drunk. That’s me.”
I shivered with cold when I said that. An omen. No doubt.
“Listen, Peter. You have proven countless times that you have it in you. You just have to stop being so negative. Remember that time at Max’s house? There were 3 women all over you. And the springbreak party? You were the star, Peter. Just relax and go with it. Here’s the deal. You will go back home, get rid of all the booze and -…”
A very loud bang from behind me pierced the silence.
I turned around and a car had crashed into a tree beside the road.
I ran toward the site and all I could hear were my footsteps and my breathing. Aside from that, silence. Not a single cry for help, nor the sound of the doors opening, nor anything indicating signs of life.
There was only one person inside the car and I rushed to the driver’s side to try and open the door and offer help. The door opened with ease, and the driver just fell out the door, unconscious. He wasn’t wearing any seat belt.
I crouched down, turned him over and immediately recognized him. It was Max. His face was completely covered in blood and he wasn’t breathing. I placed my hand on his neck, no pulse. I panicked and began walking in small circles beside the body.
“Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit. What do I do? Relax, Peter. Breathe. You need to keep your cool and call 911.” I took out my phone, took a couple of deep breaths and dialed the number.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“Yes, hi. I witnessed a car accident about 500 feet North of the intersection between Lantern lane and Circadian street.”
“We will dispatch a unit right away. Can you tell us anything about the victims?”
I broke down crying when she asked me that.
“He’s dead. He’s dead. Oh man he’s really dead.”
“Calm down, sir, help is on the way. Can you feel his pulse?”
“I’m telling you. He’s dead. My friend is dead.”
I hung up. I couldn’t take it anymore.
“Why Max? You think you are too cool to wear the seat belt? Were you driving drunk, huh?” I checked inside the cabin and there was an empty bottle of whiskey on the floor next to the passenger seat. “You had a perfect life Max, why the fck would you go and do this? You had the most gorgeous girlfriend, thousands of friends, a tonne of money… Everybody loved you, Max. I loved you. But you go and drive drunk in the middle of a snowstorm? And I thought you were smart, Max. Fcking stupid! Even I don’t drive drunk.” I crouched down next to him and lowered my voice into a whisper. “Know what, Max? I looked up at you. I wanted to be like you. You had everything. But I guess it was all just a farce. An act. Trying to be cool in front of everyone else. Well you know what? You got what was coming for you. So popular, and yet you died alone. Pathetic.”
I straightened up and beat the snow off my coat. I looked down at Max’s body one final time and shook my head, then left toward my apartment. I didn’t want to be there when the ambulance arrived.
That time around I wasn’t talking to myself. The incident was a real eye opener and I needed some time to let it sink in. The person I had always been comparing myself to and tried my best to be like, was just as broken as I was, if not more. It was time I stopped comparing myself to others and live my own life the way I see fit, not the way others do.
When I reached the apartment, I threw out all the liquor I could find and texted Cindy to apologize for what I had done – I didn’t show up for our 2nd date – and asked if she wanted to grab a coffee sometime. I also sent out some texts to my former friends I’ve lost contact with and asked what they were doing for the weekend. I knew it wasn’t the best idea to do at that hour, but at least I couldn’t chicken out from doing it the day after.
Going to bed I couldn’t help but feel happy. It wasn’t that Max was dead. It was what his death had taught me.
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