The night is dark and the headlights of the oncoming traffic are blurred and hazy, not entirely from the rain. My head my feels light and full of stuffy air and cobwebs. I shouldn’t be driving.
“Dad-day! My seatbelt!”
Mikey is crying and fussing in the passenger seat next to me. It wasn’t bothering him before, why now? Rain pours and the windshield wipers beat out their syncopated song. I stop at the light, its redness is blurry beneath the water still trickling down the windshield, refusing to succumb to the machinations of the wipers.
“Don’t fuss, Mikey, here, here,” I unbuckle him and try to buckle him in again.
“Mikey, stop!” I struggle with the metal tip and his resistance at being resecured.
I lean over, too far, I feel the leaden liquor pulling me down. My foot slips from the brake.
“Dad-day!” he screams.
The car rolls out into the intersection but I feel – I know – it’s already too late to do anything. I realize I’ve seen this moment a thousand times before. Lived it, a million times before, and only once.
The world of the car interior is blasted with blinding white light, the headlamps of the oncoming transport truck. The horn sounds, loud and low and angry.
“DAD-DAY!” Mikey screams one last time, the terrified scream of an innocent child, and then there is only the sound of the collision and twisted metal.
I awake calling his name into the empty darkness of the bedroom, and the coating of sweat on my face is indistinguishable from my tears.
My son is gone, again, until tomorrow night.