Technically, the first thing that rattled my skull was the knobby pavement of the dorm driveway. The second thing that hit my brain slightly before the internal warning sirens was the indignant feeling that I had been cheated of my five minutes of route, undisturbed, unobstructed time. In fact, I was again vertical and moving before I had even assessed whether I was actually hurt. I think that some part of my body and mind actually thought that if I started walking up the street, I could still have three to four of those remaining minutes. I probably even took a step up the street to try and capture those minutes. But that was probably just my body acting under the aftereffects of shock. Or maybe it was because I wasn’t thinking clearly because I had just been hit by a car. Now that really was the first thing I should have realized. The words rattled at memories and spanged around the fortunately intact confines of my skull. Somewhere, my internal narrator spun out those simple one syllable words in slow, echoing, quadraphonic sound like this: “Hiiiiiit byyyyy aaaaaaaa carrrrrr”.
Instantaneously, the memories flooded my body with the accompanying pain and rage. The mundane soporific haze disappeared in a flash of recollection. I had been one step into the intersection when the grimy bumper attached to the battered American car flew over the last broken speed bump, careened up the hill, and roared up at my legs. My eyes didn’t have time to traverse the distance to the driver’s or passengers stunned eyes. Instead, they were locked on the splattered metal grill with the ludicrous hood ornament that was targeting my abdomen. My life wasn’t flashing through my head. I was thinking about the last step I had taken before the rusted chrome-covered monstrosity had come to devour my life. Like everything else, it had been automatic. Like every day, I had checked the pitted and potholed driveway with my eyes before not-breaking stride. And, as always, my foot had fallen midway across its desolate space, exactly on the largest center crack, roughly three feet from the safe sidewalk.
It was three feet – maybe two and one half feet – maybe even less between my life and certain traumatic death. The exact distance was an immaterial, invisible expanse. There was a similar expanse in front, and a similar expanse behind. One half of my body was mid-air and mid-stride. The accelerating car perfectly bisected my body; everything was halfway and in limbo. Then the half-second ended. Hand hit hood and whipped past the pointless ornament, which tore skin hungrily, drawing first blood. Irresistible momentum passed through hand into arm, lifting my torso. My now airborne hip whacked off the top of the dirty grill, pushing my flying body even further from the earth’s surface. My back bounced across the dusty hood, dragging my protesting legs along. My head braced for the next skip which would surely propel hands, feet, and eyes into the jagged broken windshield teeth. Instead, my body was mid-air with no man-made objects around it. Then, instant impact, gravel burrowing and furrowing itself into every exposed area, air exhaled through brute force and complete mental confusion.One foot away from where I had landed, I slowly shook my head at the jumble of memories and finally realized that I should check to see if I was injured. I pointlessly wiggled my toes and moved my legs. My fingers and arms rested at their normal angles. I could breathe and think and recollect. I had bounced across the hood and hit the ground. I laughed nervously. Aside from the blood seeping from a half-dozen places on my body, I appeared to be fine. It was crazy. I was fine because my unconscious routine had placed me in the exact spot I had needed to be in to survive. I paused and tried to understand just how and why it could have happened, but couldn’t even begin to formulate a theory. I took a breath and looked up. The stopped headlights of the car stared back at me. The mechanics of how I had survived fled from my brain and the laughter vanished from my throat. I cracked my neck, and took a step back towards the car.