A FEW WEEKS ago, I almost killed my baby. I was driving out of Brisbane’s CBD, on a steep downhill slope towards the expressway in the morning rain, when my brakes failed. With my car hurtling like a pinball from one side barrier to another, it took a few dumb moments for me to understand what was happening. As my foot explored the brake pedal, I thought: “This is it. This is how it ends for me.” And my baby, who the day before had erupted his first two teeth, this was how life would end for him too, just after it began. I imagined the car flipping on to its roof or over the side barrier into the river. Time after time, we hit a side barrier and ricocheted towards its opposite. The speeding traffic of the expressway was closer and closer. Almost at the bottom, the ramp flattens. I projected myself forward even faster than we were travelling. I was in the future, looking back. I saw that this was the moment when I could act differently, and change things.
Then I was back in the present, in the out-of-control car. This was the moment. We hit the wall again. The road was almost flat by now. I pulled on the handbrake instead of pumping the pedal. Was it skilful driving? A miracle? Had the slope finally levelled so that, without acceleration, we would have stopped anyway? Metres away from the splashes the trucks and the buses made as they sped through the rain, the car stopped. I squealed on my horn. I wanted to be heard. I switched on my hazard lights. I reached for my mobile telephone and pressed redial and screamed something at my husband, and slumped forward over the wheel waiting for whatever would happen next. In the back seat, softly, my baby began to cry.
Already a subscriber? Sign in here
If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org