6 Seconds

Time is a very strange thing. You never seem to be aware of it as it flows in the background. Time just goes on at its own pace uninterrupted. We measure our lives in events that we’ve experienced and glue those chunks together in our minds as memories but we can never seem to remember them in order. You wake up in the morning, drink your coffee, smoke a cigarette, drive to work, do your 8 hour job, drive back home, have your dinner with a beer or two, and then go to bed. Repeat. You find yourself doing this routine five days out of the week with two days to spare for whatever shenanigans you please. Eventually the cycle repeats itself and soon enough you can’t count the days that you’ve been doing this for. All of a sudden it’s another Monday afternoon but now it’s already December. It’s been another long day at work dealing with bullshit from your boss saying you have to meet these deadlines before you can go home for the holidays. You are driving back, one miniscule dot among the thousands driving in the same direction on the highway. It’s dark, and raining heavily. It’s not even rain, it’s that disgusting combination of rain and snow. You keep driving normally without really paying attention because you’ve driven this route so many times it has become reflex now. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice something. The van in the left lane suddenly moves right. It’s a glitch in the monotony of the flow of cars, unexpected by your reflex of driving so you notice it. Your brain suddenly focuses in on the situation in an instant. And this is when time does its strange thing. It slows to a crawl.

Tick.

Everything is now in slow-motion. The wipers are almost standing still, and you can see the rain drops as they slowly shoot towards the window. It is almost mesmerizing seeing everything in this view. The sound of Justin Bieber on your radio sounds as hideous as ever but you can still recall the catchy verse he’s about to say. The van is very slowly veering to the right just a few feet away before it will collide directly into the driver’s side of your car. You wonder to yourself, what could have possibly caused this situation?

Tick.

By this time, your body is starting to tense up as you brace for impact preparing yourself for what’s about to happen. You start to unconsciously think if this is real life or not as you process things while everything’s moving in slow-motion. You take notice of your speed which is clearly higher than it should be given the weather conditions. You know you shouldn’t be driving this fast but you give yourself the excuse that everyone else is doing it so why not. Bad excuse, you realize. As the van continues to slowly get closer and closer before it collides into you, you wonder what would have happened if you drove the speed limit today. Would things have been any different?

Tick.

Too late, the van is already a few inches away before colliding into you. You look at your side view mirror and see the face of the other driver. He appears to be a middle-aged man who would probably have a family given the fact that he’s driving a shitty mini-van. You look deep into his eyes and see the fear he has for dying and losing everything. He is afraid not for himself, but for his family. You suddenly come to the realization that this is in fact real life. Until now it has been a slow motion movie that you were looking at but it never really sunk in that you would be one of the actors. This realization is overwhelming to you and you start to think, is this really it?

Tick.

As the van touches your car you start squeezing the wheel holding on for dear life. Your muscles start to tense up. Suddenly you start feeling the force of the impact, slowly moving in a big wave through the car. You lurch forward to the side as the seatbelt starts cutting into your skin. The panels creak and pop as plastic starts to break into small pieces. The windshield starts to shatter in a spider web formation with small shards flying outward. Your head swings forward, unable to hold back the inertia. As it moves towards the wheel, you see the small panel in front of the airbag crack open. You close your eyes and time stops for a final standstill. You begin to think your last conscious thoughts. Would you have done things differently in life had you known this would happen? Would you have been nicer to that guy you made fun of in college? Would you have travelled more and seen the world instead of working all the time? Would you have actually taken the time to get to know your neighbors? Would you have asked out that one person you were dreaming of ever since you met them? Would you have seen your parents more than once every Christmas? Would you have told the people that mattered in your life how significant they are to you?

Tick.

Does it matter anymore?

Tick.

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