Editor’s Note: Late last year, I began advertising the very first Genuine Writer’s Flash Fiction Contest for 2019. Submissions weren’t open until January 10, but I wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to take their chances at one of three prizes.
Third place got a free hour of editorial or book-coaching time.
Second place got to choose between two editing/consultation hours or a $50 Amazon gift card.
And the grand prize was a $100 Amazon gift or four full hours of editorial insights… all for a 500-word story that began with five little words.
There’s no such thing as...
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As for this past contest, I’m exceptionally impressed with and proud to present the grand-prize winner, Barb Miller, and her thought-provoking entry. Time.
There’s no such thing as plenty of time.
While you’ve heard it over and over, most don’t fully grasp it – until it’s too late.
Then you start with the “what ifs.”
Why wasn’t I kinder? If only I was.
Should I have said I love you more often? If only I had.
What about stopping to smell the roses – literally? What joy it would have brought.
If only I had.
This morning was hectic as usual. Not more. Not less. Like always, running late. Hitting the snooze button for the second and third time was to blame. Or maybe it was because I stayed up late last night finishing my presentation for work. Or perhaps yesterday’s office crisis caused me to bring home my work.
Who knew where it started, but here I was now.
The crash happened quickly, yet I saw every detail – as if watching in slow motion. When it was over, I closed my eyes and leaned my head on the seat’s headrest. My heart was pounding, but I focused on breathing deeply, trying to remain calm. I heard noise – lots of it – but from far away.
Or maybe I was.
People around me were talking and shouting. But I was perfectly still. I focused instead on the rain; hearing drops hit the windshield. Each with a unique sound. In combination with the wipers, they played a beautiful rhythm. Like a heartbeat but in a soothing contrast to what surrounded me.
In the distance, loud car and truck engines were humming, playing their own tunes. Sirens near and far added to this cacophony.
I almost felt relaxed, but not quite.
How different would life have been for me? For those who loved me?
If only there was more time.
Or if I had used the time better maybe?
Does a person learn anything from close calls with death?
I was jostled by a muffled voice nearby. “Can you hear me? Hang on. Just hang on.”
Opening my eyes and looking around for the first time, I took in the catastrophic scene. Emergency lights flashed. People rushed about. Hunks of crushed metal strewn everywhere.
I hadn’t noticed the police officer until he knocked. It took a few seconds to find the button to lower my window.
“Ma’am, we’ll need a witness statement from you, so if you would kindly pull over.” He pointed in the direction of an open area on the shoulder. “I guess it’s your lucky day. A minute or two earlier, and it may have been you in that accident.”
I don’t answer right away.
“Ma’am, are you okay?”
“I’m not sure, but I think so.”
“We should have a paramedic check you out. Sometimes, with horrific scenes, witnesses can go into shock.”
Pausing, I looked at the officer. “No, I’m okay. Just reliving another time; another accident. I won’t need to see anyone. Sir, any chance I could call and give you a statement later when I have more time? I’m very late for work.”