Nothing But Glass

"I never loved you.” The memory of these words rang in her head. Dizzying. “Look what you’ve done,” she had responded bitterly. The walls of the unfamiliar bar, darkened by decades of graffiti, spun around her. Ashley took another sip from the frosty glass in her hand, a bitter taste that made her want to retch. It felt good, in a strange way. It was easing the bite of pain gnawing at her. Two years of her life washed down the drain, wasted on him. 

She drummed her fingers on the counter. The rose color she had selected seemed frivolous, silly even. The drink felt good, matching her pain that was a dull ache flowing coarsely through her veins. Down went the glass. The emptiness of the bar felt good—the burly bartender had not even looked at her I.D. She grabbed her car keys and walked out the door and into the frigid night, enjoying the feeling that no one was regarding her, or stopping her.  

With trembling hands, Ashley unlocked the door and cranked the ignition. Her breath was ragged, causing mini clouds of condensation to appear in front of her face. The tinny voice of a radio announcer droned on as she eased her sedan onto the interstate. She reached to click the irritating sound off, but her hand seemed like it was being controlled by another force. Another ragged breath. How far was she now from everything she had ever known? There was no turning back, because there was nothing to go back to. Now, there were the only double yellow lines of the road behind her. 

She closed her eyes for a moment. Just for one moment, to prevent the unsteady feeling that remained from the drink. She tried to control her consciousness, her thoughts, her hands on the wheel. 

Then, glass. Nothing but glass. 

Her head thumped to a beat of an unknown song. Ashley was lying face up, with the back of her head against a level surface of a stretcher. Her sedan was nowhere to be seen. Her eyelids felt so heavy and her head felt foggy with confusion. Snowflakes from high above dotted her face. She lifted herself up to feel it on her cheeks but found herself restrained. Where was she? What was happening? Her head snapped painfully to the right. 

A silver minivan was smashed directly down the middle with deflated airbags hanging limply inside. The windshield was gone, and there was shattered glass everywhere on the road. So much glass in the street. The chairs in the minivan were almost comically out of place, knocked by a massive blow. It flickered in and out of her view as lights from a fire truck flashed. 

Another siren wailed, causing her ears to ache. She thrust her hands to cover her ears and discovered a long gash on her left arm. The sirens got louder and she shifted her neck to see what was happening, causing another jolt of pain down her neck.

She was not one for religion, but what she saw—oh God. A little boy with beautiful dark hair was crumpled in one of the minivan’s seats. How had she not seen him before? Her mind was playing cruel tricks on her. A battered men’s jacket enveloped him. His eyes remained closed as a paramedic sprinted towards him, shouting something she didn’t understand. 

A woman, probably the little boy’s mother, appeared from the other side of the crushed car. Tears streamed down the mother’s face and one hand covered her mouth as she watched the paramedics race to her son. 

Snow continued to fall softly around Ashley. Now, a paramedic was tending to the gash on her arm. Feeling terribly disoriented, she realized that she was lying on a stretcher. 

Ashley overheard voices approaching her. The night was eerily tranquil. A young girl in a pale blue winter jacket was staring at her with a sobering look. The girl turned to watch as two ambulances arrived, one after the other. A gray-haired woman rushed to the scene in her sedan and flung the door open. She appeared behind the girl, like an angel, and wrapped the girl in a tight embrace. The woman picked minuscule pieces of glass out of the little girl's hair as she suddenly locked eyes with Ashley. The woman spoke in a deep, shaking tone.  “Look what you’ve done.”

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Lauren Westbrook is a lifelong Tarheel fan who found her place at UNC studying Advertising and Public Relations. Nothing But Glass is fictional work written from the imagined perspective of the drunk driver who hit the author and her family exactly ten years ago. Lauren has always been an avid reader and has become increasingly interested in creative writing with hopes of publishing a book one day. She would like to thank her loved ones for believing in this dream and telling her to go for it.
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Lauren Westbrook

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