Brehanna Barns had only been stopped at the green light for a couple of seconds longer than it had been red, her mind preoccupied with the meaning of the message on Steven’s card that came with the tulips that arrived at her office precisely twelve hours earlier that day, when the other car hit her from behind.
The impact wasn’t strong, not dangerous strong, not enough to push her car into the intersection, but enough to knock her head about like one of those rubber balls connected to a racket with a piece of elastic, and enough for that head-jolt to catch her breath in her throat as the seatbelt seemed to draw against her chest like a garrote.
She pushed the door open and stepped out of her 2009 silver Chevy Impala, still coughing and gagging, steadying herself with one hand against the car’s roof, and moving towards the rear to inspect the damage (because there was quite obviously damage) and towards the other car, the car that had hit her, and towards the man who was now standing silhouetted by the lights on a passing semi-trailer. Brehanna put a hand up in attempt to shield her eyes from the truck’s blinding lights, tried to say something, but all she could get out was more coughing and then the semi was roaring past and the man was almost on top of her and she noticed too late the handkerchief that he was bringing up to her face as his other hand cradled the back of her neck and the strange hospital-like smell and all she could think was isn’t this Mark Zuckerberg?
It was light when Brehanna awoke. Her head was against the car window. The tulips were sitting in the passenger seat just as they had been last night. She was parked in her driveway and her Rottweiler, Samson, was barking at the sprinkler.
She pushed herself up in the seat and pain spread through her neck like a burning hand. After a moment with her eyes closed she wiped away tears, took her keys and the tulips.
She was unstable on her feet, the ground seemed like a Magic Eye puzzle. Samson was jumping up on her and it was all Brehanna could do to tell him to get down. She put a palm to her forehead, winced, walked unsteadily to the back of the car.
There was no damage. Her car was pristine. It even seemed cleaner.