So you wanna drive, eh young Murray? Be patient. This is a lesson best learned now, before the car wreck that will nearly kill you. Just ease up on the throttle and relax. You’ve got a three-month coma to spell ya, and a year in a wheelchair. At sixteen, you think you aren’t fast enough on the track team but just wait till you’re on four wheels. Just wait. There is nothing to prepare you for that. A wheelchair will give you unfathomable focus and drive: Get out. Get up. Get better.
You will drive soon enough though, my man, and even be a good driver, so don’t rush it. And don’t worry. It won’t be your fault. Just a random instance of a red light missed, of all the unlikely things. But brace yourself. There’s a lot more than that. That girlfriend of yours? You’ll marry her after college. That’s right, college, and after that graduate school. You’ll become a writer, and all this stuff that happens will become the fuel that drives you forward. Bad things happen, but good things do, too.
So take your time. Enjoy that driving before it scares you. Before it gives you anxiety. Just know that you get through it. You will drive on your own again. And though your marriage will sour as a result of the medications you’re on while you’re recovering, you’ll get through that, too.
There’s a girl in the hall right now, looking at you. Smiling. You’ll forget her when the amnesia sets in from the impact of the head trauma, but she won’t forget you. She’ll remember what you forget, and she will help you find your way again.
And isn’t driving more fun when there’s someone else to ride along with you?
Murray Dunlap’s work has appeared in about fifty magazines and journals. His stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, as well as to Best New American Voices once. His first book, an early draft of Bastard Blue (then called Alabama), was a finalist for the Maurice Prize in Fiction. Bastard Blue was published on June 7th, 2011 (the three-year anniversary of a car wreck that very nearly killed him). The extraordinary individuals Pam Houston, Laura Dave, Michael Knight, and Fred Ashe taught him the art of writing.