Close Call

Ari should have been dead: her hands rested on the roof of the car that had stopped just an inch from striking her; Billy, the driver, held his breath and clutched the emergency brake yet still trembled. She was crossing the street, at the corner of Central and Prospect, at a stop sign; the car had started to turn but stopped to let her walk safely but it was struck from behind by a speeder who ran the opposite stop sign. The speeder’s car slammed into Billy’s and forward he lurched, careening toward Ari at a speed that made her certain that she was doomed to die then.

Billy was grateful: he admired Ari as she crossed – he thought she had poise and grace and she wore a sunflower sundress and a white sweater perfect for a slightly warm Long Island spring, he would have been distraught if he had run her over. As it was, as soon as the car came to a halt, the bumper of it barely touching Ari’s knees, he jumped out of the car and rounded on Ari.

“Oh my God, are you all right? Are you all right?”

Ari was in a daze, a bit – she was certain that she was dead. He hands reached up instinctively, but the speed and the sound of screeching tires, and her own, sudden inhalation still swum inside of her and she could barely focus. Realizing, finally, that Billy was frantically shaking her shoulders now and yelling “Are you all right?” made her snap out of it enough to breathily confirm that she was.

“I’m fine,” she said quietly, “I’m all right.” And with that she ambled to the corner she was heading to and sat down.

Traffic had come to a stop on Central, and the speeder trembled as he held onto the steering wheel. Michael, he was distracted, changing a CD, knew that he was in a lot of trouble and fought the desire to flee the scene but still did not want to get out of the car.

“Get out here, you piece of shit,” Billy said, rounding on Michael’s car, “get out here now!” Michael made no move and Billy pulled on the handle but the door was locked. “Get out here and apologize!”

“Leave him alone, okay?” Ari said firmly but still quietly and Billy backed off and sat  next to her as the police arrived and took their statements and filed a report and asked Ari if she needed an ambulance but she said she was fine and went back to work.

Billy would get her number and called her, made sure she was okay, and she thanked him and called him her savior and he brought her dinner, and she made them dinner, and one night after a little too much wine, they made love. He felt like force of nature to her, and she felt like life itself to him, and together they came like it would be the last either would ever experience. But it was the first of many to come.

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