|Image Source: Magpie Tales|
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.