Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Night to Remember

Image Source:  Magpie Tales
I look at the photo of our smiling faces.  We were happy then.  The three of us were on our way to our high school dance.  None of us had dates, but that didn't stop us.  We were filled with a zest for life, and hope for the future.  There was a big beautiful world out there just waiting for us to make our mark.

It was a warm fall evening, and the dance was the first event of our senior year.  Donna was driving her Dad's car.  She was the first one of us to get a driver's license.  She was a happy-go-lucky, up for anything girl.  Ben was the wild and crazy guy, the risk taker and live wire of our trio.  It fell to me to be the level-head voice of reason.

We arrived at the dance to find the the lights bright, the music dull and the dance floor nearly empty.  We had the car and permission to be out until 11:00, so why waste the night here.  Ben suggested we pick up his pal Rick and go hang out at the park.  Where Ben was a bit crazy, Rick seemed dangerous.  Donna and I were a little leery of him, but agreed because Rick could buy beer.  
We swung high on the swings with beer bottles in hand until we could barely walk.  Then we went down to the lake, toting a flashlight, blankets and the last six-pack.  Let's go swimming Rick said eyeing us girls, and Ben piped up a quick second.  "That's crazy" I said.  "It's dark and besides we don't have swim suits."  Donna, more of a free spirit than me, said "That's OK" and started to remove her skirt and blouse.  "Oh, all right," I agreed, not wanting to be the only stick in the mud.  One by one, we stripped down to our undies and waded into the lake.  The water was colder than we expected, and once in about waist deep, Rick and Ben took great delight in splashing Donna and me until we were all shivering. Thinking maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all, we slogged our way to the shore.

Back on dry land, we wrapped ourselves in the blankets and talked of our dreams and how we would take the world by storm.  "To good friends, good times, and having our whole lives ahead of us" toasted Ben as we finished off the beer.  "This is a night to remember."

Now the moon was high in the sky and it was getting late. "We need to get going," spoke the voice of reason, so we headed back to the car.  Donna was sleepy, so we let Rick drive.  That's where things started to go wrong...fast.  Fast as in Rick was driving like a madman.  How many beers did he have anyway?  The road twisted right then left and back again.  We were approaching the curve too fast.  Rick lost control and yanked the wheel to bring the car back onto the road.  The car crossed back and then off the other side, crashing through a fence and down into a ditch plowing into a big oak tree.  It all happened in a matter of moments but it felt like slow motion. 

Rick was killed instantly when we hit the tree.  Donna died later from her injuries.  Ben and I were pinned in the back seat for what seemed like hours until we were found.  A passing driver saw the tail lights and went to call for help.

Ben walks with a limp, his right leg twisted as a result of being awkwardly pinned for so long.  I was the only one who escaped serious injury.  I was still wrapped in my blanket when I was removed from the car.  Ben could have had surgery to repair his damaged leg, but he chose to live with the pain and disfigurement as a reminder of that night, and his decision to include Rick in our plans.  The accident wasn't his fault, but he carries the guilt of their deaths with him every single day.

Yes, it was indeed a night to remember.

Written for Magpie Tales #79

For more fiction, please join me tomorrow at Sara Healy's a sharing connection where I will be guest posting. 

16 comments:

  1. This fiction seemed so very very real, Linda. From the light-hearted fun to the tragic ending, this gripped me. And sadly this happens all too often in real life.

    Hope you are well today.

    xo

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  2. Linda,

    You really brought me into this picture and the teenagers of the story. You created a great mood of anticipation; I knew something would happen, but what?

    I also liked how you put the personalities into the kids in the picture, especially the girls. I thought it fit very well.

    This story reminds me that in the beat of a moment, life can change. It certainly did for the teens in your story.

    I remember my eldest was in a car accident, which fortunately wasn't serious. She was bringing my youngest home and allowed others to ride in the car.

    They had too many kids and so, my youngest was sitting on someone's lap. They were only going a short distance and so, she thought it would be okay.

    They didn't expect a car to end of hitting them. As I said, no one ended up hurt, but that moment could gone tragically different, like your story.

    I look forward to hosting your guest post. You created an excellent mystery:~)

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  3. Hi Linda .. great story .. and I'm so pleased it didn't happen to me .. to people I knew ephemerally .. a senior girl, who was blonde, slim and exotic .. ie she came from South Africa - was killed in a car crash ... and a friend's father died after crashing his Jaguar on a wet and rough night .. ah school days .. lots of memories .. cheers Hilary

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  4. Jannie- Thanks so much. Realism is what I was trying to achieve here. And yes, things like this happen way to often.

    Sara- Thank you. I'm glad the personalities came through. I wanted it to seem real, although unfortunately tragedies like this are often part of our reality. I'm sorry that your kids had to go through that accident, and it is indeed fortunate that no one was hurt. But like you said, you just never know from one moment to the next what will happen. Accidents can happen to anyone no matter how careful they are. You just can't control your surroundings.

    Hilary- Hi, I'm lucky that none of the accidents I've been in were serious (injury wise). Neither were my fault nor hubby's. Like I said to Sara, you can't control what others do, and sometimes you can't get out of the way. So sorry, though, for the tragedies befalling people you knew.

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  5. good story- one to learn from! We lived charmed lives back then since most of us somehow escaped with our lives.

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  6. I agree, this seemed all too real. Very well written piece about the not so happy endings.

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  7. That was very powerful. I thought, for a moment that it was a real episode out of your life.

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  8. Ooh, I knew when you were talking about how fun-loving Donna was that things were not going to end well! I really hoped it wouldn't be fatal, though. Well-written story, Linda. I totally got caught up in it.

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  9. That was an excellent story. You really captured that time of life.

    my eldest son turned his car over a few years ago. He had friends in the car, including a pregnant girl. He hadn't been drinking, but the road was icy and he hadn't been driving very long. He told me that he will always remember their screams. No one was hurt.

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  10. "having our whole lives ahead of us"
    We do every day, don't we. Do we choose any better? A well-written warning.

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  11. Kathe W.- It is indeed a different time now, but tragedies have happened throughout history, and like you said, most of us survived.

    Thingy- Thank you. It is a sad bit of reality, I know.

    Babs- Thank you. I'm really glad it wasn't a chapter out of my life's book.

    Nicky- Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Not everything ends well.

    Anji- Thank you for reading - I'm glad you liked it. I'm glad no one was hurt in your son's accident. Icy road and new drivers (and often experienced drivers) don't mix well.

    ~T~ - "Do we choose any better?" Sadly, often times we don't.

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  12. Wonderfully written - a powerful fiction that transforms to reality in far too many instances.

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  13. Yikes! You drew me right in, Linda. Sadly, this type of scenario has played out many many times. My son lost a dear friend in a drunk-driving accident 2 years ago. The driver (not his friend) lost control, the car flipped and both died at the scene...just a few miles from home...

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  14. Talon- I'm glad I was able to pull you into the story, but I'm sorry if it brings back sad memories for you about your son's loss of his friend.

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  15. please tell me this is REALLY fictional!

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  16. Meleah, yes, this is indeed totally fiction.

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