“The two assholes were racing each other,” said L. “I heard they were on drugs or something.”
He was standing in the non-Euclidian circle we had created, incessantly tapping his right thumb on the filter end of the cigarette. L. was one of P.’s closest friends. I had to like him because he was dating one of my closest friends.
“I heard he was still alive when the ambulances arrived,” said F. “They were all still alive, but the ambulances took too long to get there.”
F. came to be known as “the one who hadn’t cried.” He was always the confident, borderline cocky one, with his blond hair and angel voice. He was fervently texting when he spoke those words. In that field of stones and graves, it seemed that P.’s death had left F. unmoved.
I, on the other hand, was shaking. My legs trembled. My fists clenched. My body was fighting the urge to pour out my lunch – if there was any. I wanted them to stop talking about it. I couldn’t understand why they were even talking about it, why they were looking for a culprit, for someone to blame.
“Who the fuck cares?” I whispered. “It’s not like it’s going to change anything.”
I stood up and began to walk away. When I realized what I had said, it was too late. Things were not going to change. There wasn’t any magic time-turner or machine in a police box.
P. was dead. He died. He is dead. A collision, a moment, an instant and, then, boom – gone.
Police disabused us of what we thought had happened. The drivers weren’t racing. Of the three cars involved in the accident, only one was speeding.
In the Alfa Romeo 147, there were two friends, both in their 20s.
In the other Alfa Romeo 147, there was a couple of newly wedded Swiss tourists, driving down the coast.
In the red Renault Clio, there was a family of four.
When the driver of the first Alfa Romeo decided to pass the honeymooners just to prove that he could, he probably wasn’t thinking about how a family of four could turn into a family of two in a split second. Or could stop being a family at all.
“What can I do? It’s not like I can bring them back from the dead,” the guy said when he woke up from a coma in the ICU of a small town hospital.
And he was right. What could he do? What could we do? What could I do?
On August 19, 2013, the day we were gathered in the cemetery, I thought about a lot of things. I remember thinking about the last time I had seen P., a day before the accident. I remember thinking about the sound of his voice and the way he would call my name loudly in the street. I remember thinking about our first kiss and our last one. I remember thinking about all his talents and his potential. I remember thinking about the promises we had made to each other and the ones we had broken. I remember thinking about how alone he must have felt, lying down in that field of olive trees, his blood rusting under the afternoon sun.
On August 19, 2013, I don’t remember ever asking myself how it had happened. I don’t remember ever wondering the technicalities of it all – when the cars had crashed, why the cars had crashed, who had made the cars crash. I don’t remember feeling angry at whoever was responsible for it – that came later. I don’t remember even caring about the person responsible for it. Because what could he do now? What could we do? What could I do?
On August 19, 2013, I walked toward the exit of the cemetery with cold sweat dripping fast down my forehead.
It was the first day of the rest of my life.