Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 41. “I’m going to be late,” my friend says through the static of her headset. “There’s so much traffic.” “Where are you?” I ask as I distractedly check my emails and open up a file on the Avid. “Heading downtown.” We’ve been chatting for a while now. I need to get back to work. I’ve decided scene 16 is my next conquest. I hope to be able to get it done by the end of the weekend. After more chitchat about the shoot she’s heading to I contemplate wrapping up the call. That’s when I hear the all too familiar screech of tires skidding. Time slows but my heart instantly speeds up. I hear my friend quietly say, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.” She’s not talking to me, she’s talking to what I can only presume she’s looking at. The skidding seems to go on forever. Finally, it ends with the inevitable cringe-inducing crunch. “I just got in an accident,” she says in practically a whisper. “Did someone hit you?” “Yes.” “Are you hurt?” The call disconnects.
It’s my turn to mutter, “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.” My thoughts go wild. Did she hang up on purpose or did she hit her head and pass out and the call accidentally got ended? Is she bleeding to death right now? Oh my god this is all my fault! She shouldn’t have been talking on the cell phone! But she was on her headset, I argue. Shut up and do something! I know I should do something, but what? What?!? My mind shuttles through options. Call the police? Call her husband? He’s 3000 miles away in Jersey at the moment. What could he do but panic and worry? “Oh god, and she just got a new car!” I say with a groan. Should I jump in my truck and head towards downtown? Wait, I’m not even sure which freeway she’s on. The 110? The 5? The 10? It’s likely she is on the 10 because she is coming from the Palisades. Do something! I snap out of it and call her back even though logic dictates she probably won’t or can’t pick up. It goes to voice mail. I speak calmly although I’m not. “Are you okay? What’s going on? I’m thinking of calling your husband. Or maybe the police.” I blather on for a bit longer, not even sure what I’m saying. I hang up. I pull up her husband’s number. Contemplate it. Seriously, what can the poor bastard do? Nothing. So that’s just mean. I text her instead even though I realize this is really stupid because if she’s hurt she can’t text me back. Any façade of calm is gone. I text, I’m freaking out. Are you okay? Should I jump in my truck? Should I call max? Police? Are you hurt?
Frozen, I sit. I wait. Helpless. I start to cry. I feel like Sally Field in that movie where she’s on the cell phone with her daughter and someone comes to the door. She tells her not to answer but the daughter does anyway and is killed while her mother, Sally, listens, helpless to do anything. “Fucking LA traffic,” I say to no one in particular because I am alone. “Now she’s probably going to move back to Jersey!” I pace. I check emails. I call her again. She picks up! Before I can say anything she says, “Don’t worry. I’m okay.” “Oh thank god.” “I’m pulling off to the side of the road. I’m not hurt.” “Damage to the car?” “A few scratches. The guy who was behind me is hurt.” “Oh god, how awful.” “I’ve got to go.” “Please call me later!” She’s gone again.
I try to focus back in on work but I’m too amped, distracted, weepy. I work hard not to go to any “what if” scenarios. My friend is okay and that’s all that matters. For that I’m incredibly thankful. But I don’t know what to do with this experience. It affects me deeply and yet it’s like it never happened because I wasn’t really there. Tree falls in a forest kind of thing. Bizarre.
It’s a little over two hours after the accident. She probably went on into work and her shoot. I text her again because I’m still unsettled. Checking in. Are you okay? She texts me back almost an hour later that she’s fine, didn’t need to go to the hospital and she’s going into an interview. All is well. I give thanks again. I’m not sure if I’ve really let it go but I need to get back to work. I add being powerless during an unexpected accident to the list of what I have to create from now.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have…including unexpected accidents.