Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Perils of Driving Distracted

NOTE: This is fiction. I wrote this as part of a scholarship essay contest on the perils of distracted driving and driving while texting. Make sure to vote for me here! (It's the fifth one listed on the page.)

“She’s still not home.”

My mother’s statement is greeted with silence, except for the sound of the clock ticking 2:00 am. I don’t know why she bothers saying it. My father and I can see that Sarah hasn’t come home yet, and her friend Rachel said she left her house hours ago, after the two had a fight. The heavy rain pours onto the streets outside, lashing the windows. I watch the drops slide down the glass outside, glittery against the dark nighttime background.

A sudden knock on the door breaks the pained silence. We all jump up, but my mother, clad in a nightgown and robe, is the first to get to the door. Two very wet police officers holding broken umbrellas stand on the stoop.

“Is this the Miller-Green household?” the female officer asks. My mother nods, still in shock. “My name is Officer Fawcett, and this is Officer O’Grady. May we come in?” Mom makes room for them to come into the living room.

“I suggest you sit down,” Officer O’Grady tells us. Numb, we sit on the couch. I expect the worst.

“Is this about my daughter, Sarah?” Mom asks. Her voice is a thread of sound, barely audible over the pounding rain outside.

“I’m sorry to say that it is,” he replies. “Your daughter was in a car accident at about 8:00 pm. She drove her car, a red Kia, into the side of an apartment building about a mile away from here. An ambulance was called almost immediately by the tenants. Sarah was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was ID'd she’s on life support.” We all breathed a sigh of relief that Sarah was alive, but then froze when we realized it might be a temporary state.

“She was coming home from a friend,” I say after an awkward pause. “Her friend told us that they had an argument when Sarah stormed out.”

“Sarah was holding a phone when the EMTs got her out of the car,” Officer Fawcett says. “It was smashed to pieces along with the rest of the Kia, but we figure that she was texting someone, maybe her friend, when she crashed the car. Her mascara was a mess, and there were make up stains on her sleeves. It looked like she was crying, maybe because of the argument, which probably blurred her vision.”

“And she wasn’t wearing her contacts if she was crying,” Dad says, the first time he’s spoken since before midnight. “With the rain…” As if to validate his conjecture, a large clap of thunder booms outside the house.

“Do you know if she’ll make it?” Mom asks the officers. As soon as she says it, she winces, not wanting to know the answer.

They both look pessimistic. “We’re not doctors, so we can’t really say,” Officer Fawcett says, but it’s clear that even those not in the medical field can tell that Sarah won’t survive. All because of a stupid argument, a storm, and an ill-timed text. Sarah’s life was worth more than that.

She's not going to make it. My big sister's going to die. Oh my gosh. My sister's going to die, just because she was upset and driving and texting, all at the same time.


  1. I'm not good at comfort, but I wanted to leave a note to let you know I saw your story. I can't imagine how you're feeling and won't presume. But you're heard and witnessed. *hugs*

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words. I added a note above stating that this piece is fiction (thank God!!). Sorry to alert you!