Description: While much of this is inspired by an actual walk I had on 4/27/12, most of it is made up; this is simply a scenario I imagined happening while I was walking back from class one day. The scenario stuck with me so much that I wrote it down. This is the result. After about a year after it was written, this piece had the privilege of being published in Anderson University’s 2013 Spring Literary Arts Magazine.
A boy whizzes past me on a bicycle, close enough for me to be justified in a feeling of rage or the utterance of a curse word. I don’t even flinch.
It’s just a normal day, and I’m heading back to the dorm, just like always. People are walking all around me, and I couldn’t now report to you any of their faces, even the color of their hair. I’m lost in my own world, in my thoughts, which are so incomprehensible and muffled that I could not accurately report them to you. The only thing I’m really aware of is the sun, which is shining brightly, and campus, gorgeous on this spring afternoon. However, even this is more of a matter-of-fact observation than an emotional revelation. It’s like someone just told me about that beauty of the day, like I’m not actually here experiencing it.
It’s hard for me to get out of this fog, this numbness of going through the motions. Even though my classes were interesting, even funny, I still can’t break out of this blah-attitude that I seem to be enwrapped in nowadays.
I stop at the crosswalk and let a few cars pass me. When there’s a gap large enough for me to pass through I step into the road and cross. Crossing the street always feels like a gamble to me. No matter how long I stop to look to see if cars are coming, I always accept the possibility that I missed something, that a car’s going to come barreling at me at eighty miles per hour. My heart rate stays constant today though; even that irrational fear isn’t enough to get me motivated today.
I make it across the street without incident, and this is when I notice I’m actually very cold. I can’t help but roll my eyes. That’s Indiana for you – sunny and gorgeous and somehow still thirty-five degrees. I pull my hoodie closer.
I’ve stopped by this point, and I look down the path. I have two options: I can take the shorter path that curves directly alongside the dorms, or I can take the longer path that lines the road. It’s cold enough I choose the long path, which avoids the shade of the trees, so there’s a slim possibility that it will be warmer.
I am cognizant that this is odd immediately. I never take this sidewalk, and I am a notorious creature of habit. Walking this way feels weird to my body, unnatural.
But I go with it. Hey, I could use a little rebellion. And it was warmer this way.
I have to pass two other dorms to get to mine. As I walk pass the first, I start thinking about this fog I’m in. I really want to get out of it, but I don’t know how. I see all these other people who have all these passions; they know exactly what they love, what they want to do with their lives. Those are things I really lack in my life. I just wish God would give me a sign, throw something at me that I was really passionate about.
I feel myself starting to get back into my mind fog as I pass Ricker, the next dorm. And that’s when the building exploded.
Heat sears my entire side, and an invisible power, like some force field in a science fiction movie, tosses me into the air. Luckily, I don’t get thrown far enough to get sent into the street, but I do land unceremoniously into the bush that separates the sidewalk from the road. After the crash, I feel tiny nettles and pointy branches rip at my flesh. I gasp in pain, but I feel myself losing consciousness. I am only able to see the dorm in front of me, flames pouring out the windows, before blackness drapes down over my vision.
I wake up in a hospital bed a few hours later. The first thing I see is the relief that pours over my parents’ faces. My throat is burning, and I ask for some water. Mom informs me they’re only allowing me ice chips right now. I sigh. I hate ice chips.
But I throw some in my mouth before I realize I’m in the hospital, that a dorm exploded. I ask my parents what happened.
They don’t know details, but they know it wasn’t accidental. But who set the bomb was still a mystery. I had a concussion, some mild burns, a lot of bruising, and about ten thousand annoying little cuts, but I would make it. Sixty students so far hadn’t been so lucky. With tears in her eyes Mom informs me that if I had been ten feet closer it would have been sixty-one. If I had taken the same path I always do I wouldn’t have lived.
“God has something very special planned for you,” my dad says quietly as he squeezes my hand.
And I believe him.