Flash Fiction: "Self-Destruction"


"Self-Destruction" by Jade Hengel

The steady beeping of the machine had remained constant for over seventy-three hours, but his future had been uncertain for much longer than that. He’s never been the kind of person to quit when things get hard - he loves a challenge, which is why we’re here in the first place. The doctor said comas are common with traumatic injury, especially in the company of car accidents; from driving too fast, to feel the high as if flying; that’s what he lived for. He always told me that life wouldn’t be worth living if he couldn’t put his hand out the window and feel the wind fighting him, which is where the speed came in. I have to wonder at what point the speed becomes self-destructive, and when the race is no longer just for the win, but becomes a drug so addictive it holds your life in its hands.

His deep brown hair was still a mess from the wind hitting him from all different directions, even hours after. He thought he was unstoppable, but the blood covering his grey hoodie told a different story. Just the other day I had emptied his pockets and taken his sopping red clothing to the laundromat. While I waited for them in the washing machine, I admired his wallet and everything inside of it. The first fold held a laminated photo of us with our baby girl at her kindergarten graduation last year. We’re a small family, sure, but one that we’re proud of. She never left his side for a moment. When it was time to eat, she insisted that I bring it to her, because she wanted to be there if he were to wake up, and she never slept a full night without waking up to check on him.

The second fold of his wallet held two tickets to a talent show our daughter would be singing in. He had reserved the tickets early to get a front row seat and backstage pass to meet the adorable artist in person, even though we had already made plans to celebrate with ice cream afterwards. Before I opened the door to the washing machine, I thought I would’ve been able to get rid of the stains, but once I did, I realized they had put up a battle - this one, I was willing to settle.

We sit in the auditorium; his hands find mine as the curtain opens.