- Vol. 07
- Chapter 06
When they pool their recollections, they tell themselves they seek understanding. In reality, they aim to ensure everyone is as in the dark as each other.
Nobody denies something happened as they drove through the trees. Pine, hunter, bottle – they don’t share what shades they pick as backdrop to the memory.
One thinks she saw a sign. The others feign ignorance, but a blood-red triangle overlays the green expanse in their minds. They swear she’s making it up, that there was no warning, but the gleam of headlights on white-limned red is seared into their amygdalae.
The one who had his stomach pumped says he was messed up, seeing double. Says he blacked out in the bar. Everyone is satisfied with this. They don’t ask if he remembers fighting his way out the car.
The impact is stored in their muscles. They feel it in their necks, their shoulders, their waists. Two of them hit the gym. The others seek massages, reiki, crystals. It takes them weeks to understand the tension has taken root in their limbic systems, trickling from hypothalamus into bloodstream. They jerk awake in the night, chain-smoke, avoid liquor stores.
Spring breakers do it all the time, they tell themselves. Hunters do it for fun. Accidents happen. The influencer stops blogging. Says they should have stopped to help.
They used to claim divine connection with nature. Now the fear of retribution keeps them confined to municipal life. They envy the body its access to soil, grass, leaf-filtered sunlight.
Steadily, they drop out of contact. The one who has started eating meat likens his time with the group to a cult. Only one remains an activist. He becomes more radical as he spreads his exhortations, believing it will help him redeem himself. When the others see him using their old slogan, they scoff. It is juvenile, they say. Parochial. They laugh when see the murals painted of the activist nestled between lion and lamb.
They wonder if they would have reacted the same way, if they had been behind the wheel.