I left on vacation on May 31st. The customs agent held me up at the airport and I missed my 6 hour non-stop flight to Houston from Vancouver. Apparently not having a printed copy of my return flight warrants this kind of action. I eventually get passed through and get thrown on a flight to San Francisco then connected three hours later to a flight to Houston. I finally land at 12am. The drive to my Mum's house is about an hour and a half from the airport. You speed all the way there down this long stretch of highway. The roads look brand new. Its not like in Canada where the roads are in a constant state of construction. These paved trails are traversed by thousands upon thousands of cars, in a constant flow of life. You can't even tell how fast you're going on these freeways until the vehicle in front of you starts to slow and you need to stop before smashing your front end into their fender. It's 2am on Friday, and even now, there's late night drivers all around. The cars are sparse, but there's an oddly abundant amount for this time of night. Still, we're all barreling down the four lane highway, full speed without a worry of rear-ending the car in front. Suddenly, there's brake lights. The four lanes flood with slowing vehicles into a complete bottleneck. Two of the lanes are blocked by a white pickup parked at an angle. "Oh that's nice, the cops just stop traffic without warning now," my mother proclaims. But it's not the police. It's a civilian vehicle and its headlights are shining on the road ahead. We're passing the truck on the left side and I hear a shuddered gasp out of my mother as she says "don't look" and she goes as fast as she can past the block. In those blocked lanes, under the lights of the pickup, is a body. A human lying face down, arms at the sides, legs straight and relaxed. I resist the temptation to look for a moment but as we pass, I turn my eyes to take in what happened. I know it will be traumatic to see but I've always had a curiosity for these things. I've seen countless images of gore on the Internet, read and researched multitudes of serial killers and terrorists. At first I followed my Mum's suggestion to not take in any of this garish image but this is my first opportunity to see it first hand, in real life. I want to see if I can be truly frightened by something like this, if the Internet really does fail at translating the entire emotional experience of witnessing a dead or dying person. As we drive past, and I'm taking in the scene, I can feel my heart racing and my brain is trying to get me to look away. It knows there is something here that could be traumatic but my morbid curiosity is too strong. We're as close to the body as can be and I see it's a woman. The long hair and small frame give it away. There was either little or no blood, but my brain is blocking this part out and I can't remember for sure. Cars are stopping on the side of the road, like the tourists in the Rockies when there's a moose or a bear visible. They don't look like people aiming to help. There's a few things that felt exceptionally strange in this occurrence. There were no emergency vehicles. The accident must have happened just before we had arrived and it made it feel even more eerie. Then, the woman was lying in a perfectly aligned position. No limbs splayed about. Her head wasn't even turned to the side; she was nose to asphalt. Looking at her position, I can tell immediately that she is not alive. Of course, I won't know this for sure until I inevitably look up the accident in the next day's papers. In my belief, she is dead, but there is no gore anywhere and her lifeless body is in such a calm position that it's dissonant in my mind. A person dead on a highway like this could have been missing limbs, splattered, blood all over the incriminating car. But it's not like any of the pictures or videos from the Internet or Hollywood films. There's nobody even standing anywhere near the woman. Nobody performing first aid, or holding her as she passes. I can't imagine that this woman has been hit by a speeding car on this highway without splattering everywhere but that's what I found in the article I read the next day. She was trying to cross the highway, misjudged the speed of the headlights coming towards her and she was hit. The car must have slowed down before she got hit which explains why there wasn't any blood. It's a strange thing to know that I've now actually seen a dead person in real life, and the fact that it's so possible and almost normal to die utterly alone has been a little hard to swallow.
Au Revoir! tohuwabohu