warnings: swearing, death
“This is going to be so much fun.” Ian said beside him.
“I’m so excited.” Anthony replied with a huge smile, keeping his eyes on the road. They were on their way to a Youtube meeting, and while that might not’ve been the most exciting thing on Earth, they were looking forward to spending the day hanging out together. Neither had been to San Francisco in years and were happy at the prospect of returning.
“Okay, it’s the next exit.” Ian said, looking at his phone, and Anthony nodded. “This is gonna be a great day, I can tell.”
“Look who’s all enthusiastic.” Anthony said, still wearing a huge smile. “Keep it in your pants.”
“Just take the exit, dumbass.” Ian responded, swatting his arm.
“Okay, okay.” Anthony turned the wheel. “We’ll get to the hotel, put our stuff away, then grab a bite to eat because I’m starving.”
“Same. Let’s get pizza.” Ian said, and Anthony made a sound of agreement. “Cool, sounds like a plan.”
And then a jolt went through them both, and Anthony found himself slamming his brakes, not entirely sure what was going on, and he lurched forward with a great and unexpected velocity, slamming his forehead onto the steering wheel, his arm moving out on instinct and touching Ian’s chest. The sound of metal scraping and crunching like tin foil was ethereal in volume, sounding out as though from God himself, causing them to feel the deep rumble in their chest and the vibrations through to their fingers like electricity. It was an incredible feeling, large and full and awful, and it all happened in those two seconds prior to Anthony slamming his forehead and Ian hitting his head on the windshield, at which point a different feeling came.
Anthony leaned against the steering wheel, dizzy and feeling ill. His head was pounding and tears had came to his eyes from such a hard hit. He could feel blood drip down the side of his face. He groaned and took a deep breath, feeling as though his lungs were burning and his neck about to snap off. He could vaguely see a smokey haze and a cracked windshield, but not much more.
“Ian.” He muttered, sitting up and resting his face in his hand. He wiped the blood away as it creeped down to his brows, and let his eyes adjust as he stared at the blood on his hands and steering wheel.
“Ian.” He said again, and looked over to him.
His friend was slouched in his seat, almost looking as though he was nonchalantly staring out the window, but he wasn’t moving, and wasn’t answering. Anthony stared for a moment, in a world more silent than he’d ever known, and his eyes slid from Ian to the cracked windshield, which was covered in surely more blood than Anthony had let out from his head.
“Ian.” He reached out slowly with a shaking hand, the same hand he’d put in front of his friend on instinct when they were crashing. He thought he would be enough, that he could save him, and he was wrong.
He put his hand on his shoulder, then pulled Ian slightly closer to him, and that’s when he saw the blood. All down Ian’s face, soaking into his shirt, coating his hair. It was dripping from his crown in sickeningly thick amounts. Anthony, in all his confusion, simply stared for a moment, floored, then the realization of what was happening weighed down on him deep in his gut, and he suddenly felt very tired and as though he would vomit at any moment, because Ian was dead, gone from him, and it was all his fault.
“Hey.” He heard a voice suddenly, and turned around to see a man standing at the window, staring past him and to Ian’s bloody body. “Oh my Lord, is he okay?”
Anthony shook his head, then pushed the door open, untangled himself from his seatbelt, and fell to his knees on the pavement, throwing up. He felt the man patting his back gently, but he didn’t care. His best friend, poor Ian, gone. He was all alone in the world.
He discovered later, through a thick fog of pain and confusion, that the man at his window was the owner of the car he hit, and he gave Anthony a bottle of water as he sat on the side of the road, waiting for the ambulance. They took Ian away then. He would never see his friend again. The men in the ambulance told him after he spoke to the police to record the incident, they would take him to a hospital, and there he was, looking blank and emotionless, answering yes or no questions on whether he’d been drinking or taking meds, but inside he was crumbling, crushed, destroyed.
He had stood for the officer, but as he walked away to check Anthony’s license, he sat on the ground again, and the man he hit came and sat next to him.
“Sorry about your friend.” He said softly.
“I killed him.” Anthony mumbled back, and the stranger shook his head.
“These things happen. You’ll forgive yourself.”
Anthony wanted to laugh, but merely shook his head. “Will I?”
They sat silent for a moment, looking at the two wrecked cars and the blood spattered all over Anthony’s. He felt as though he was trapped in a never-ending sigh, that of some otherworldly being too large to comprehend, and his melancholy would never disappear, and he felt that this was something he truly deserved, because the death he caused that day was the worst one he could imagine, and he wanted a lifetime of punishment.
The officer returned, handed them both their licenses, and told Mr. Padilla and Rosenthal that they were free to go, and so they wordlessly parted ways. Anthony climbed into the ambulance, the man climbed into a taxi, and they both left that horrible scene.In the end, he did not forgive himself. He did not return to San Francisco. He did not see his friend again. He could not.