pages Braking

by Jessie Carty

Published in Issue No. 166 ~ March, 2011

She knows it is a cliche, but all she can think is slow motion as she goes limp. She had looked left while driving down a Friday afternoon hill.

During her commute, she changed climates. At her home it would be 60 degrees but then 50 as she traveled west to work. Her doctor diagnosed her with tension headaches but years later a specialist would say it was vasomotor rhinitis which meant her fickle sinus’ could flare up at changes in pressure. Although, that is just another way of saying tension, isn’t it?

She has time to think all of this just after the moment she notes the first red tipped leaves and just before she realizes that her brakes are just not catching, catching, catching.

She isn’t as sure if it is as cliched to say her face is impacting the airbag as if it, the bag, were nothing more than a pillow. This phrasing feels, she thinks, over poetic and she hadn’t really considered poetry in years.

It amazes her that she isn’t hurt. She feels passive. She can’t convince herself to get out of the car because there isn’t just her car: there is another car; there is a truck; there is someone sounding reasonably upset.

She is in an SUV. A teenage boy is wrapping her in a blanket. His mother, she assumes it is his mother, is asking, “Are you OK?” A Band-Aid is affixed to an already fading scratch on her hand. Steering wheel?

Later, she’ll find the bruises on each of her knees. She’ll have fried chicken for dinner. She’ll pick out a new car and feel guilty for a few minutes about that, but only a few because it was time for a change. She’d been hurtling towards one for years.

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Jessie Carty's writing has appeared in publications such as, MARGIE, decomP and Connotation Press. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks At the A & P Meridiem (Pudding House, 2009) and The Wait of Atom (Folded Word, 2009) as well as a full length poetry collection,Paper House (Folded Word, 2010). Jessie teaches at RCCC in Concord, NC. She is also the photographer and editor for Referential Magazine. She can be found around the web, especially at where she blogs about everything from housework to the act of blogging itself.