birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

I am a Petty Monster

I was in my early twenties and living with my boyfriend across the country from where we grew up and went to college. Errands to furnish our apartment were always a bit of a challenge because we were both new at such things. We were used to small towns and pickup trucks but out here navigation was always a tiresome, traffic-filled chore. This was before smartphones.

We were needing some kitchen stools for our new apartment. In my trusty blue Geo Prizm, which had entered my life in high school with a big bow on top, carried me through college adventures and then took me way across the country, we were on our way to Big Lots! He was driving for a change. I was learning to take a break and trust a little.

We looped into a tight right curl of an on-ramp, and crept upon a stopped sedan that was waiting for an opening. Traffic was moving briskly in the lanes, and this car ahead of us was waiting for an opening like it was double dutch. The driver of my car, my then-boyfriend, saw the sedan up there make its move and then he hit the gas.

Alas, it was a fake out. My guy saw and braked, and we were definitely feeling the OH SHIT part of things. We hit the car in front of us in the best way. The IS THAT IT part of things. But then there was the NOOO of the SUV behind us impacting my trunk. My trunk. My car. My accident? Not my accident, but yes my accident.

Our necks were a little sore but no one was injured. The car was totaled. It was an easy enough driving mistake I suppose but I still feel let down by him, the driver, my former person. I don’t think he took responsibility for his part. He blamed the car in front and the car behind. Why wasn’t he more careful? Am I to believe that accidents just happen? It seemed preventable.

I don’t think I would have done that. I watched the way he hit the gas, and I knew I wouldn’t have. I was trying to not be so critical. And it’s true that I didn’t tell him how I really felt, so maybe I actually did OK there. But my opinion still haunts me. I still know how I feel about it even though it really doesn’t matter anymore. It was my car, and I wasn’t in control and this is what happened. Is this just what relationships are? And then I got a new car, and after another year or so the relationship ran its course. I drove the car back across the country, where years later another boyfriend would total that one too.

Becoming Your Parent's Parent

The Accident Magnet