Some years ago, I was in the Safeway parking lot.
Just behind me was a young mother with a baby
on her hip, holding a three-year-old girl by the hand.
The girl twisted away from the mother and started
to run, past me, just as a car reversed out of a parking
stall. I leapt forward and swept the girl into my arms.
I vividly remember the feel of her bones, the
insubstantial depth of her rib cage, her thin white
cotton dress. The reversing car continued reversing,
and then proceeded away, completely unaware.
I stood with the very surprised child in my arms
and the mother stumbling up behind me, saying
thank-you thank-you thank-you. It was very bright
and sunny, the kind of day where you dare to believe
that the world is a benign place.
This morning, I was exiting off I-90 to Rainier Avenue
and I saw a car that appeared to be parked (no emergency
flashers) against the concrete pylon, right against the curve.
I thought it was odd, and as I continued on (very slick road,
a dangerous curve if you're going too fast), I noticed that
the car had head-on collided with the concrete and was wedged
against it. This all happened incredibly fast -- by the time I
realized it was an accident (I do not think quickly in situations
like this), I had rounded the curve and was on Rainier --
probably about four seconds. Panic! I called 911 and reported
it, thanks to the existence of cell phones. So much flashed
through my mind, so many possible scenarios, life/death/
Autopsies. A knock at the door. I believe I did the right thing.
I want to believe this. Need to. I could not stop.