Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 12

it down my throat. It lodges there. I can’t cough it up. I can’t breathe around it; just a tiny whistle of air squeaks through. I stagger up, my body shaking from fear, and my chair skitters away on its casters. I throw myself back against the wall, shoulders, neck, head slamming into the wall again. The cap won’t move. I reach for the phone, press 911, hear the operator’s voice, but I can’t even whisper. My lips, my hands, feel numb. She speaks in my ear. I cannot answer.

* * *

Again I’m driving, crossing one of the many bridges that span the Bay. Traffic is heavy. The road is slick from rain. This bridge is low on the water for a few miles, then arches over the strait in one rainbow of an arc. I’m on the flat now, but traffic skids to a halt, and I’m too late, don’t see the slow-down until I’m on top of it already. I swerve to the right, but there is no shoulder, no emergency lane, only guard rail and cement. I clip the rail, bounce away into the car next to me, ricochet back, and then I’m flipping, ass-over-end, and falling. The car hits the water right-side up, my forehead bounces on the wheel, and I have a dazed moment where I think, I’m floating. But the car is heavy, and though my windows are closed, water percolates up through the floor, and it is cold. I can’t stay inside, and I’ll drown outside, and how can I get the door open with the water against it? Perhaps people saw me go over, perhaps are calling for help now, but I feel thick and dumb, and my hands fumble at the seatbelt. The windows are electric, (a foolish choice, I can see that now) and they’ve shorted out, they won’t open. I gather myself, my thoughts, and prepare to push open the door with the strength of my legs and swim for the safety of the pilings of the bridge. When I open the door the first crack, cold bay water rushes in and I try to kick it open enough to push out. The water is stronger than I am. I cough in salt water, a harsh, cold gulp. I go down.

12 | Psychopomp Magazine