Punch Buggy

I don’t how how long I stayed there, but my knees went numb after a few minutes and my upper eyelashes were sticking to the bottoms and I had the white cold fear that if I didn’t keep moving I’d die, so I got up and walked to the main street quickly. I walked just to move, and tried to blink my eyes dry but the cold air on the wet surfaces of my eyeballs kept them wet. It was hard to see but I didn’t want to stop so I walked in the direction I started, toward the Rexall drug store, and I nearly tripped when I suddenly stepped off a curb. I heard a scratching skid and then I felt myself pushed aside, gently but with irresistible force, hard against my puffy winter coat down at my hips, and the low shove doubled me over until my head caromed off a cold hard surface. I managed to avoid falling backwards, barely, instead stepping back until I had space, my head feeling like a kite on a string.

My vision cleared enough to see a car right in front of me. The driver got out and said, “Goddamn, you okay?”

I didn’t know why he asked me, but I said yeah because I was done pouring my heart out to strangers.

“I didn’t see you,” the guy said. His face was obscured by the mist of his breath.

“Oh,” I said. My pelvis ached. My stomach rolled. I could feel my heartbeat in my head. I thought I might throw up.

“You sure everything’s fine? You’re not hurt?”

I realized he hit me with his car. Slid into me, really.

I touched my head. It stung but I didn’t see blood on my fingers. “I’m fine. I didn’t see you either…”

“Okay. Uh.” It sounded like he wanted my permission to leave. I didn’t know the etiquette. I’d never been hit by a car before.

He said sorry, like he brushed against me in a crowd. I said sorry too, because I was Canadian and that was the proper response to bumping into someone, even if it wasn’t your fault.

There was another awkward beat, so I walked straight legged to the opposite corner. I felt like a penguin. Chilly Willie, like the mugger said. But I was cold and sore and so I was stiff out of defence and not wanting to slip and fall and add to the pain and coldness and humiliation and if I fell I didn’t think I’d ever get up. I kept going. Eventually I heard a car door shut behind me and a car accelerating, then fading. I realized then that the car was a VW bug. Punch buggy.

I think I threw up a couple times on the way to the store but I wasn’t sure, except I had a specific mental image of chunks sizzling in snow. Anyway, my head wasn’t quite straight enough to realize if I did or didn’t, but my stomach felt a little better at least.

The lights of the Rexall swarmed behind my eyeballs and flayed my frontal cortex. I had to squint and move with my hands in front of me like a blind man, trying to get the words above the aisles to form English.

“Whoa, hey, are you okay?” asked a voice. Someone behind the counter, a woman with an East Indian accent. I could see her general shape, but the colour of her shirt was too florescent so I looked away. I was angry that everyone was asking me that question, that question that lost its meaning long in the history of language, almost as far back as the first asshole who decided the letters o and k together would have a meaning that had no meaning, just a noise you grunt and click out of your face to grease the wheels of social interaction before actual talk happens. And yes, I understood that lately people genuinely wanted to know, but it was too late, the English language cried wolf as small talk too many times for me to fall for it. My heart was poured. A mugger drank it down. I had no more to give.

All of that translated into the word “Fine.”




Day 302’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Punch buggy,” “Utterly ignored,” and, “You’re on your own.”

The events following The Best Medicine. Except I seem to have changed tenses… Oh well. One day these will all be complete (and consistent) stories.

– H.

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