The sun is coming out. The weather is changing. The clocks are going back next week. It’s just that time of the year, after the doldrums following new year, when things begin to pick up, don’t you think?
What could be better than a walk in the Lake District? It was sweet. Fond hours along a nature trail with only the pleasing sight of RAF planes navigating by, rather than queues of static motor car traffic.
A nice day. A nice walk. Done. But on the way home...
A car – the very next car in front of us, on the motorway, doing 60 at least – drifts out of the left hand lane. I didn’t see that bit, to be honest. I just heard Julie saying “F*ck!” in that special tone of seriousness reserved for things that truly surprise or shock us. Now, Julie NEVER swears. The very first glimpse I got of the accident unravelling right in front of us was of a car rolling onto the grass beside the motorway and bouncing off a farmer’s dry-stone dyke.
The absolute key detail* is the blond female hair I saw coming out of the open sunroof as the car rolled. A car, flying through the air upside down, and blond female hair cascading from the sunroof. Then it came to rest and the second detail my mind recollects is the passenger, a man, get shook back into his seat like a doll.
Our speed takes us past them but then we pull up. I didn’t want to get out the car. I didn’t want to see. I’m not one for blood and gore. If her hair was hanging out the sunroof, then her head could have been too. That girl’s head could be like an egg for all I knew. One thing for sure, it was a damn serious crash. Off and rolling at motorway speeds is always going to be a serious crash.
It all happened so quick. And in slow motion at the same time. Weird.
I was expecting blood. I was thinking crimson. The idea that the car might explode never occurred to me, but the thought of a messy-bodied woman tangled in metal held me back for a good ten seconds at least before stepping out. The responsibility of being first on the scene is massive. It’s also horrible. You don’t know what the nuts to do.
But this girl is out before me. There’s a scratch on her finger and that’s it. Her passenger, her dad, is also unmarked. She is absolutely unscathed, considering. I’ve just seen her get tossed about, upside down, with her hair billowing out the sunroof, off the motorway, off a wall, and she’s just like, huh, totally fine. Completely fandabbydozy.
She’s shocked, oh you bet she is, doesn’t utter a single word, all distant and vague, but she’s actually on her feet, she’s stood up, looking girly and pretty and blessed and alive. A cut finger, nothing more. I wanted to hug her. I actually wanted to hug her. I did a kind of mild manly half cuddle with one arm and said something along the lines of “Well in love, I could see your hair blowing out through the sunroof, I’m glad you’re okay, you’re lucky to be alive, put the lottery numbers on this week.”
Eventually she sat and by the time the ambulance arrived she was breaking down into tears. Until then she remained blank and staring and in shock. Perhaps she did bang her head, and to be honest I don’t see how she couldn’t have banged her head (view picture), what with her head more or less dangling out of the sun roof as her small car’s flipping every which way but loose. The driver’s side is caved in. She must have been flung towards the passenger side when that happened.
We took her number so I should be able to find out what happens at the hospital, but like I say, the girl was standing up with a scratch on her pinkie when she should have been stuck red and dead. She cheated death. She told it to do one. Her name’s Emily, and here’s to her.
*Passing a separate wreck several years back, I remember seeing a potato on the road, which had come clear of some shopping bags. This car was upside down on concrete, and the driver had already been whipped away in a body bag. Absolute key detail.