At a certain point you just have to go for it, and then you are hitting the kid, and you want to say the sound is like a “plonk,” but it’s not. It’s a sound outside of language, after all, and you feel that feeling that you are part of the car, that the car is your body colliding with the kid’s body, and your own meaty body is just an organ in the vehicle, your awareness of it proprioceptive—like a fender is your limb and it is knocking the kid under and away. Not away enough. The tire clumping over a leg at the kneecap. The soundlessness of splintering bone. Think that a tire might be a cushion of air that bears all the force, that you might be part of something misguided but miraculous, before you hear the wail. Do not hear the wail. The wail requires, and you do not have anything to give it. Ask yourself what life meant until now and what it will mean after now. Wonder at what point your belief in yourself as a person becomes insufficient, and if this is that point. A bike will clatter under you, and here comes the second rise and fall, the back tire adding injury to injury, here comes the onlook and the limblessness and the official response and then the shame-shouldered slump of the rest of your life.
Zach VandeZande is an Assistant Professor at Central Washington University. He is the author of the novel Apathy and Paying Rent (Loose Teeth, 2008) and the forthcoming short story collection, Lesser American Boys (Ferry Street Books, 2018). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Gettysburg Review, Yemassee, Georgia Review, Wigleaf, Smokelong Quarterly, Portland Review, Cutbank, Sundog Literature, Slice Magazine, Atlas Review, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. He likes you just fine.