Perhaps it was the sudden jolt that followed which burned that thought into my mind so vividly. Or maybe it was the lesson learned in such a frightening way.
With all the things that rush through the head of a 12 year old that don’t stick around for longer than it takes to get to the next break in their attention span, that thought alone has survived for almost 18 years.
I can even remember how nice a day it was, how green the grass looked and I can almost smell the exhaust from the bus as I stood behind it. Even the question I asked myself seems very nonchalant – as if there were no consequences involved. I mean, next time you’re standing beside a busy road, behind a bus – ask yourself this question: “Should I run across the road?”
Whatever you do – don’t answer yourself “What are the chances?” before sprinting out from the cover of the bus. If you do find yourself asking that second question in reply, at least answer it before recklessly darting out in front of 30 mph traffic.
Yeah, I got away lightly – the car that hit me was only just taking off from about 60 yards or so up the road, so it had not yet peaked at the seemingly acceptable 5-10 mph above the speed limit. It was going fast enough to toss me into the air for an ungraceful half forward flip before crashing to the kerb on my head, though.
Then came the screams from a gaggle of new mothers who had paused as their paths crossed for a gossip. Although dazed I did feel a little foolish when I gazed around to see what they were screaming at. I guess screeching car tyre’s and a summersaulting kid make quite an impression when you’re pushing your baby around.
After discussions with the unfortunate driver regarding the front of his car and whether I’d damaged it, I convinced him I was ok and made my severely concussed way home. Fortunately this was less than a minute away or I might not have made it, as the feeling of nausea and little cartoon stars chasing around my head led me to collapse in a heap fairly soon after my arrival.
My mother…? nope, she wasn’t too impressed when I told her what had happened. She done that thing parents do when they get a shock and started going mad at me and the driver, who was clearly not at fault.
I must have been home less than fifteen minutes when he called at the door – in a state of shock himself, offering to take me to hospital. A cynic might suggest he was trying to avoid a hit and run charge, but following an afternoon spent in casualty with him I can vouch for his sincerity. He even maintained his composure when the nurse walked up, asking me “Is this your dad?”
“No.” I replied, “This is the man who ran me over!” I added, as casualty fell silent and parents of my fellow patients looked on accusingly.
In the end, I had a headache for two or three days and I’ve been very careful crossing the road ever since.