national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

Incident on Route 46

Doreen St. Félix  • 
Brown University

In a poorly upholstered driving seat, middle age is approaching
a quiet, coughing woman much faster than it is her husband
because she is a quiet and coughing woman. She is turning the
key vigorously, pressing the gas pedal to the floor, digging into
the steering wheel, turning the key again, losing weight,
growing her hair long, gaining it back, making his coffee before
he even thinks he might want it, not yelling like that anymore,
burning the entire town, but the car does not start because it is
so painfully reliable in that way. She decides to tilt her rearview
mirror 30 degrees too much to the left so that when she finally
notices that the safety lock is on and begins driving along the
freeway, the white sun will refract, then reflect, then hit her like
it did when she was not married and she will beam. The white
sun hits her and she feels it and the turning car hits her and she
feels it. The white sun hitting her so she could triumphantly hide
her smile lines from herself and the husband, who does not
immediately recognize her in this new shape, peering into the
demolished car four minutes after the accident with his coffee in
his hand