Friday, February 17, 2012

Out of Nowhere: The Body in the Road

We carry around in our heads thousands of memories, some of them fragments, some so rich with detail they feel as if the event just occurred.  Others are so frayed and thin that they are more sensation than a past reality.  One wonders if a memory they've thumbed over again and again truly happened - was it part of a dream or something that happened to someone else?  In a series (which I'm calling "Out of Nowhere"), I will be sharing the kinds of memories that remain bright - that have stood out because of their strangeness, because of their poignancy, or significance - or maybe for no particular reason at all.

The Body in the Road

I was the last to be dropped off that night, late.  Early, really, around 3 or 4 am.  I'd been with my friends since early evening, doing nothing much.  I was on the passenger side of the big, broad front seat of Gary's 50s-era car, all shiny chrome and waxy leather.  He loved and babied that car so as he made the right turn off of the pavement of Wilson Mills onto the gravel road that ran past my home, he slowed down to avoid any spray of rocks pinging against the pristine paint job.

Save for the headlights there was no illumination on the road on that mild summer night.  And it was quiet.  Even the crickets had gone to sleep.  As Gary turned, the headlights swung wide and resettled onto the road and something flashed ahead of us.  Gary slowed and put the car into park.  The sound of the crunch of wheels on rocks stopped.  Seconds ticked without either one of us moving as our brains' struggled to make sense of the image on the other side of the windshield.  A few feet in front of the car was a limp form, human, down in the dirt, right in the center of the road.  My throat constricted but my hand was reaching for the door handle.  Gary was already out.  We walked to the front of the car, the light flooding our faces, the body bright, alarmingly three-dimensional yet sickeningly boneless. Neither one of us wanted to reach for it.

But.  A dummy.  Something stuffed and dressed to look human.  We looked at each other, relief mingling with the dissipating remnants of fear and dread.  Thank goodness it hadn't been real.  Thank goodness we hadn't run over it.  Thank goodness we didn't have to help.  Gary dragged the dummy to the side of the road.  My heart rate slowed.  We got back into the car and drove the next mile in silence, following the sturdy beam of the headlights to my house, dark and comforting in the early morning.

(Thanks to Kel for playing The Body.)


  1. I can taste the adrenaline as I read this.

    I heard once that each time we revisit a memory we overwrite the old one. So, that, theoretically, the only "pure" memories we possess are the ones we don't remember.

    The Good Luck Duck

  2. I've heard that, too - in one of the many "brain" books I've been reading lately. The human brain contemplating the human brain is one of those circular kind of exercises that makes one, well, mind-boggled.

  3. Wow, I love the story, but the comments gave me a headache. Heehee. Memories are funny....they can really blur the lines. As the youngest of many children it always amazed me how different our memories are of the same situations and times and people in our childhood.

  4. Cor ..... that was a corker! Really drew me in and I was gripped (as ever) when you start to tell a story. Thanks Annie! Hope you didn't take too many shots of Kel and that it wasn't actually raining at the time!

  5. Wow, what a scary event! Somebody was a real prankster.

  6. See you've already been awarded this - but feel obliged to give it to you again, because I've had such enjoyment from your posts.

    I'm awarding you a Versatile Blogger Award:

    To pay it forward, create a post mentioning the award. Include 7 factoids about yourself in the post. Then list 15 blogs you'll bestow with a Versatile Blogger Award.

    I've posted about it, as bid, tonight.

  7. I've been a fan of your blog for a little while now checking in from time to time and I just now was reading your profile to see where you were from and saw you live in Oklahoma - I live in Oklahoma as well, in the Southeast. Anyway, I just had to share I think it's funny that so often the blogs that I like turn out to be by people from Oklahoma and Texas. Anyway, this post had me going - really crazy.


    1. Hi Felicity - thank you! I enjoy your blog very much as well. Yep, something about Okies ;-)!


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