Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Four Seconds

You see the collision and the twisted metal before your very eyes, and you are disgusted. Bile rises in the back of your throat and the acrid acid burns your oesophagus; you want to puke. You want to turn away and throw up, but you don't. Instead you swallow back that sour taste and you stare at the carnage of twisted metal and broken people, because you can't turn away. You're fixated by the beautiful, horrifying chaos. And as the people burn, so too do your memories; forever, scorched into your mind's eye, and you'll never forget. You'll never wash that from your eyes, no matter how hard you cry.
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I want to talk, today, about something that happened on the 11th of January, 2015. New Year, new times, new lives being lived, and everything was happy, we expected good things, even if we were a little bit anxious about the coming year. Earlier that day my Dad had left, headed for Newcastle. I woke up late that day, so I didn't see him packing, I just saw Mum saying goodbye, so I ran outside, gave him a hug and said "Try to have fun," my usual farewell. Dad was going to see family, and hopefully my Grandpa. His motorbike was in the shop, so he borrowed my mother's "roadster", a 3-wheeled motorcycle, to drive down, he drove down the driveway and was off, disappearing along the road. The Word of the Day is: 'CRASH'

Crash /krash/ v.t. 1. To fall, hit something or break into pieces noisily. 2. To force or drive with violence and noise. 3. Colloquial To come uninvited or without permission to: To crash a party. 4. To damage in a fall or by running into something: He crashed his car. 5. To break or fall to pieces noisily. 6. To make the noise of something breaking or falling. 7. To fail suddenly. 8. To move, go or hit with a crash. 9. Aviation To fall to the ground. 10. Computers To shut down because of a fault. 11. Colloquial To fall asleep when tired out. ♦n. 12. A breaking or falling to pieces with loud noise. 13. The shock of hitting something and breaking. 14. A sudden and violent falling to ruin. 15. The shutting down of a computer system because of a fault. 16. The sudden failing of a company, etc. 17. A sudden loud crashing noise. ♦adj. 18. Colloquial Using full speed and effort: A crash course.

At about 6:30 in the afternoon, I got a phone call; from the hospital. It turns out, my Dad was driving down a motorway, as you do when you travel interstate, but half-way through his journey, things took a bad turn. As he was driving 75 km/h down the road, a woman I'll call Miss Black entered the motorway with her little, blue car without looking. Most likely turning across to another road, I don't know what she was doing, all I know is that my Dad had no time to react, he couldn't even hit the brakes. So the motorcycle hit the driver's side door, crumpling on impact.
Because of the speed of the collision, my Dad was thrown off the vehicle, conservation of momentum and all of that . . . he flipped over Miss Black's car and landed headfirst, but the momentum continued and threw his body after him, making him roll forwards, somehow scraping the visor of his helmet before he landed on his back. It was all over in four seconds.
He then sat up and looked around, saw the traffic beside him driving slowly, obviously keen not to join their car to the wreckage. He glanced around, shifted his legs and attempted to stand, but the pain was too much, so he laid back down, to recover, before people started to gather, including a doctor who was passing by, a nurse and Ms Black herself.

Thankfully, my Dad survived this collision. He shouldn't have, a human body at that speed, on a crashed bike, flying through the air and hitting their head on the road - that's more than any human body can bear. But, my father was wearing head-to-toe, high-quality protective gear: An armoured jacket; kevlar-reinforced jeans (seriously); motorcycle boots, gloves &, of course, a motorcycle helmet.
Even with all that on, his body took quite a rattling, and it's not exactly a pleasant experience having your hand pressed so hard against the handlebars that you break a bone in your wrist.

Everything's alright, and my Dad is fine. The opening paragraph (in Italics) is fictional and it's nothing more than melodrama, but I write it because this incident is causing me to think more about the word crash.
It's odd, but I had been thinking about it before this incident. See, I plan my Duke Forever chapters in advance, and while at time of writing the Archive says that I have one chapter I want to write (Chapter 11: The Talladega Experiment), I actually have plans for upcoming chapters twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, eighteen & nineteen (seventeen is still up in the air) and Chapter 12 will be called Party Crashers, as usual, being a play on words, as the story will be about both 'party crashing' and 'crashing party'.

But now, afterwards, it's not really that much . . . different. You'd think something like this would be more of a life event, even if my Dad got out of it fine, surely something more should happen. I feel like maybe I should be more upset. This is quite dramatic.
I mean, if I wrote a story where a character's father got into a motorcycle accident like this, I would expect them to get upset, y'know? Shed a tear, maybe even take a quiet moment to contemplate. But, no . . . nothing, really. I'm not ungrateful, but it feels like something is missing, it was too easy. Maybe I'm growing up and this is how an adult handles an issue like this. Or, maybe I'm too immature to grasp the severity of the situation. I just don't know.

It doesn't feel like a crash. Because, as all those definitions up there say, a crash is noisy, it's a collision with noise: break into pieces noisily; fall to pieces noisily; the noise of something breaking; falling to pieces with loud noise; A sudden loud crashing noise, and yet . . . it's so quiet. And perhaps that, alone, should mean something: What does it mean to crash in silence?
But no, life isn't that dramatic. It's times like this when I'm glad I'm not a protagonist, since any writer worth his salt would've vindictively made this incident have a much worse outcome. I just don't know . . .

I guess that's what today's post is really about. This crash took four seconds. It happened, it ended, now it's in the past. If I were writing about this, it would probably mean something. The rider needs to wake up to the world around them; perhaps they're not ready for their upcoming relationship and the crash is a metaphor for the sharp, sudden derailment they're experiencing in their life. Perhaps this would lead to an epiphany or self-actualization. Or perhaps it's an incident calculated by the villain in an attempt to rid themselves of the hero.

But in life, sometimes things just happen. Meaningless things, full of sound and fury, but in the end . . . signify nothing.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time, I'm going to ponder this a little longer, then move on with my life. Drive safe, loyal readers; watch wear your going; always wear a seatbelt and to fellow bikies, always wear protective gear.

1 comment:

  1. We're all extremely relieved that your dad was wearing safety gear, and passing along our good wishes.

    What happened probably is that it's hard to comprehend that an accident can happen at any time, and to people who act as our protectors to an extent, and our support figures. You're not too immature, and you're not insensitive. Your mind is trying to protect you from the implications of "what if".

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