When I was 16, I was in the back seat of a car that hit and killed a teenage boy jaywalking at night. He died right there in the road. When I felt his body being forced underneath the car, I assumed it was a deer.
I got out of the car and saw his broken body in the middle of the street. I fell to the ground, and then I don’t remember much after that. My sister says I kicked her and screamed. My dad says he picked me up and put me in his car and brought me home. I don’t remember.
When we went to his funeral, his cell phone lay next to him in the casket. There was makeup all over him, trying to cover up the bruises. They were dark purple, stretched over his body, showing me the places where we killed him. I felt like I shouldn’t be there… like I was responsible in some way. They call this Survivor’s Guilt.
His mom hugged me and told me it was God’s will. Soon after that, she tried to sue the owner of the car. I was angry at first. Then sad. Horrified. Confused. Sad, again. I told myself to let it go. And I did, I think, for the most part.
Today I walked through a wet meadow with my bare feet and saw three deer. I thought I knew what paradise feels like. I felt free and only a little afraid. I felt like everything was good, and life could never be that bad. Sometimes I think that for there to be so much good, there has to be an equal amount of bad. But I don’t know. That is just how I keep myself sane. Telling myself to think of yin and yang. But Chinese philosophy confuses me. Everything does, really.
His name was Dakota. That’s all I know for sure.
August Pfizenmayer is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and student. She studies creative writing, specializing in poetry and creative nonfiction. She loves reading, sweets, and warm weather. You can connect with her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.