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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Daily Life | 2 comments

Short Story: Impel

canstockphoto19883641What I really really really want to do is write. If I can write I can be all right. I’ve got one or two or three quirks though, so that might make my style a little bit impenetrable. What I’ll do is best-attempt writing, best-attempt storytelling, best-attempt creativity. Please bear with me. I know the repetition isn’t great but I have to do it, I have to do it.

I have to put this sentence here.

So the story starts 7 (seven) days ago, meaning 168 (one hundred and sixty eight) hours ago, meaning 10080 (ten thousand and eighty) minutes ago, and how the story starts is with me waking up.

The first thing I have to do in the day is get out of bed. Depending on how I’m feeling this can take anywhere from 1 (one) minute to 20 (twenty) minutes. It’s all about the method. If it isn’t perfect I have start again. I just have have have to start again. I get anxious otherwise.

Once I’m out of bed I go to the bathroom to get ready. I brush my teeth properly. 5 (five) minutes of brushing. I run the toothbrush over the front of my top teeth 20 (twenty) times. And then I do the same for the bottom, 20 (twenty) times. Then I do the interior. The bottom jaw, 10 (ten) times, then the top jaw, 10 (ten) times. It has to be done perfectly, otherwise it isn’t worth doing at all.

Before I leave the bathroom I have have have to wash my hands. I know bathrooms are dirty places, filled with germs and bacteria and viruses so washing my hands is not optional. I stop washing my hands. After thinking about all of those germs and bacteria and viruses I simply have to wash my hands again. Just to be safe, just to be sure.

Before I dress myself nicely I lay the clothes out on my bed very neatly. 1 (one) smart shirt – navy blue. 1 (one) pair of jeans – black. 1 (one) belt – leather. 1 (one) pair of underpants – blue with white diamonds. 2 (two) socks – white. And then I notice my 2 (two) shoes – black – are on the bed. And shoes never never never go on the bed. I get dressed.

I have to put this sentence here.

And I’m sorry it took this long to get downstairs. But we’re here now. I’m standing in the kitchen, scrutinizing the expiry date on carton of milk I’m holding. It says 21 (twenty-one) April which is today so this milk is expired. After I pour it out I have to wash my hands because I’ve thought about what expiration actually means.

I put the lid back on the milk carton and dispose of it in the bin. After touching the bin I have to wash my hands again. And after washing my hands I have to wash my hands because I’ve just now considered how dirty the bin actually is. At least I’m not anxious, I think.

Whilst washing my hands I take a moment to look out of my kitchen window. I’m on the ground floor of a block of apartments. I had to had to had to be on the ground floor. There just wasn’t any other option. Directly in front of our building runs this road and just before it disappears from sight it turns into an intersection which has traffic lights.

Typically the traffic lights are sensible. Green means ‘go’, red means ‘stop’, and orange means ‘consider doing the stopping or the going a little bit faster’. Today all of the traffic lights are green. All of the traffic lights are green. All of them are green. I haven’t seen them all the same colour at the same time, but it makes me feel really really really good. However, because this is an intersection, the traffic lights should never never never be all green all at the same time.

I stop washing my hands and turn the tap off just in time to hear two cars colliding at high speed. The noise is horrendous, all scraping and scratching and screeching. I can hear the sounds of glass shattering, shards spilling towards the street. When silence eventually returns it’s as if those two cars never crashed at all. But I can see them. So they did crash.

I start thinking about how bad the accident must be. I think about how many people might be hurt. I think about the possibility of there being blood. I turn the tap on and wash my hands again. I try to stop thinking about the blood but can’t. I can’t can’t can’t. So I wash my hands again.

I have to put this sentence here.

I have to leave my home, leave my apartment, leave my safe zone, to see what has happened outside. I have to know if those people are alright. I have to see if I can help them. I have to figure out if I’m not responsible for this, I have to know if this is my fault, I have to know if I caused this. Maybe I forgot to do something this morning. Maybe I put my clothing on in the wrong order. Maybe I lost count whilst brushing my teeth. Maybe I climbed out of bed wrong. Any any any of those things could’ve caused this.

I’m standing on the pavement just outside of my property. I keep my hand on the fence just to be safe, just as a precaution. There are 2 (two) cars that have crashed into each other. Just the 2 (two).There are no other cars that have come yet. I am the only person who is at the scene of the accident now.

The car closest to me is red and there is a woman inside. This woman, she says, ‘help’. But she doesn’t say ‘help’ she screams it. She screams, ‘help’ very very very loud. I can’t really tell if she is screaming at me but still I say, ‘okay’.

The other car is blue and there is also a woman inside. This woman, she also says ‘help’. But she doesn’t say ‘help’ she shouts it. She shouts, ‘help’. Just like this other woman, I can’t tell if she is shouting at me but still I say, ‘alright’.

I shudder before speaking. I get the shakes as I formulate this question in my head. I cringe before opening my mouth to ask it. I ask it in a loud loud loud voice.

I ask, “Which one of you is bleeding less?”

Beyond the sounds of cars cooling down, that tinking and plinking of metal expanding, there is just silence at that intersection. Nobody says a thing. All of the lights are still green. I realise that I’ve left the front door of my apartment open but before I can run back to close it, the silence gets broken.

“Excuse me?” asks one of the women.

I don’t really understand why she does this. I asked my question very loudly. She couldn’t have misheard me.

“Which one of you is bleeding less?” I ask. And then I have to ask a third time. I’m compelled to ask a third time. “Which one of you is bleeding less?”

I can see the two women looking at each other now. They are peering through the smoke that their crumpled-up bonnets are producing and they are seeing each other and making eye contact and doing looking. This is a good time for them to compare their bleeding. I think that maybe I can help so I squint at both of them.

The one in the red car looks like she has suffered a contusion to the head after hitting her steering wheel. The one in the blue car looks like she has suffered an abrasion. She is bleeding more.

I think about the blood. I tell those ladies that I will be right back.

I go inside and wash my hands. Then I come back outside. And I close the door behind me.

“Okay,” I say. “I’m going to help you in the red car because you aren’t bleeding.”

I have to put this sentence here.

I am at the red car and the door looks a bit bent after the collision. I want to open the door for this woman but when I look at the handle I start thinking about it. I cringe as I slide my fingers up and into that unknown crevasse, that blackness where anything could be. My skin crawls and I cringe I cringe I

cringe. I shut my eyes very tight and I pull at that door’s handle as hard as I can. That unshapely door fights with me but eventually I manage to open it.

When I push that door out of my way I become very surprised. I tell this woman, ‘you should never drive without your safety belt on’. I tell this woman ‘that is dangerous behaviour’. I tell this woman ‘she was a bit silly’. She doesn’t say anything back to me. I assume that she is thinking about this important safety belt information I have just given her.

I examine her and she looks alright. She isn’t bleeding which is good.

“Do you think you can move?” I ask her. She nods.

So I nod.

And then she nods.

So I have to nod.

And then she doesn’t nod.

But I still have to nod.

“Okay. Give me your hand,” I say bravely. And she takes my hand. And she holds it tight. And her hand is sweaty. I can feel this immediately. Sweaty sweaty sweaty. Whatever’s on that hand is now getting onto my hand. Alive with whatever she’s got it’s creepying and crawlying onto me. I think about things like seepage and oozing and then I really want to wash my hands. I help her out of the car very slowly and then I sit her on the pavement so that she is safe.

I ask, “Have you called anyone?”

And she says, “I thought you went inside to call someone.”

And I say, “No, I went inside because I had to wash my hands.”

And she doesn’t say anything.

“I’m going inside to wash my hands now,” I say. “And then I will call the authorities.”

I go inside and wash my hands. What a day this is turning out to be. After I wash my hands I pick up my cell phone and I phone 9 (nine) 1 (one) 1 (one).

I say, “Hello, there has been an accident. There are 2 (two) cars involved in the accident. 1 (one) of the cars is blue and the other 1 (one) is red. There are 2 (two) women who were hurt in the accident, 1 (one) per car.” I pause. “I have helped the lady who isn’t bleeding. She just has a contusion. The other lady has an abrasion and I am still building up the courage to help her.”

The woman on the other end of the line sounds slightly confused. For some reason she asks how old I am. I tell her that I am 27 (twenty-seven) and I remind her that this is not a social call. I give her the address in full and tell her that she must send an ambulance. She says, ‘okay’. I end the call. And then I wash my hands because I used the phone.

I have to put this sentence here.

I go outside again and for some reason there are still no cars that have come down the street. The red car woman is still sitting on the pavement. She looks dazed and confused and out of sorts. I go up to the blue car and I see the woman in there.

I say, “Hello. I’m going to try and help you now.”

And she doesn’t say anything, just nods.

So I nod.

Then she furrows her eyebrows at me and nods.

So I nod again.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

I nod again. I tell her, “Nothing.”

I open the blue car door much faster than the red car door. I notice immediately that this woman is wearing her seatbelt. I say ‘good job on wearing your seatbelt’ and ‘things could’ve ended up much worse otherwise’ and ‘I wish you weren’t bleeding on your head like that’.

I reach over her and I unbutton her belt. I do my best not to make eye contact with her as I help her out of the car. I simply don’t don’t don’t want to see the blood. I take this woman and sit her down next to the other woman. But not too close, not too close.

“Well, aren’t you a pair?” I ask. And they are because there are 2 (two) of them.

I have to put this sentence here.

Eventually an ambulance arrives. Eventually a police car arrives as well. Paramedics get out of the ambulance whilst policemen get out of the police car. The paramedics attend to the women and the policemen talk to me.

“Did you call this in?” the larger man asks.

I nod. I nod. I nod.

“Oh, dispatch said she thought you might be a prank caller,” he says.

“Okay,” I reply.

“But you weren’t.”


The other policeman says ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ and ‘you helped a lot’. I nod. I nod. I nod. He smiles and says, “Well, we can get going now.” Then he sticks out his hand at me. He wants me to shake it. He wants me to shake his hand. I think about his hand for a little while. I stare at it and whilst I stare at it I think of the word ‘moist’. But I do shake it. I shake his hand and I smile.

“Thanks,” he says.

And then the other policeman wants to shake my hand as well. Fuck fuck fuck. So I think about his hand. And I look at it. I build up my courage and then I shake it.

“Okay,” I tell them. “I’m going back into my house now. I have to go to work soon.”

They both nod.

So I nod.

And then they nod.

So I nod again.

And then they just stare at me weirdly. As if something’s wrong with me.

So I nod a third time.

I have to put this sentence here.

And I turn around and head back towards my apartment. I think to myself that I will probably have to wash my hands for the next 10 (ten) minutes to be completely rid of all those horrible horrible horrible things that I’ve just touched. It has to be done.

Once I’m inside I shut the door behind me and then I go into the kitchen. I start washing my hands. And whilst I wash them I’m watching those paramedics help those two women. Everyone is alright which is quite nice. I think to myself that I was very very very brave to help. Even with all of the blood and all of the touching and all of the sweat and all of the handshakes. I think about washing my hands but I’m already doing that. I remind myself to wash them again after the 10 (ten) minutes is up.

I think about just how lucky those women are. I think about how lucky they are that today wasn’t a Tuesday. I think about how I simply can’t can’t can’t leave my house on a Tuesday. I smile. And I keep washing my hands.

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  1. Thanks for the feedback, Emily. Much appreciated. It never crossed my mind that one of the women would bleed to death, only that one would be helped prior to the other.

  2. This is an amazing story, Dane – you really got inside the head of an obsessive in a convincing way. I especially liked the description of the narrator’s difficulty in opening the misshapen door, and the invented words ‘creepying and crawlying’.

    I just wonder whether it might have made a stronger story if he had been unable to help because of his obsession, and one of the women had bled to death. Was this something you considered and decided against?

    Either way – thanks for sharing.

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