A small memoir

Most of the writing I have done on my blog has nothing to do with the novel I’m working on, however, everything I read keeps telling that writers, well, write! So here I go writing again. At some point, I will gather some of these pieces and turn them to my novel, or actually do some novel writing! Again the important thing is to keep writing, keep exploring ideas, keep playing with language and keep practicing. Play around with point of view and genre. Today I am using first person narrative in a piece of autobiographical writing: a small memoir.

My latest writing exercise:

When I was a kid, driving home from some dinner out with my parents, we came across the most horrific accident. I was sitting slumped down in the back seat of the car. It was quite late and I was tired and full from dinner. We had a long drive ahead of us and I was planning on falling asleep, but right then I was glancing over the top of the door, through the window, into the darkness beyond.

My dad was driving; mum was in the passenger seat. Something caught his eye – a light in the ditch beside the road. I hadn’t even seen it, but he pulled the car over onto the gravel beside the road and reversed up. I couldn’t see anything other than a glimmer of light coming from the ditch. Dad went out into the darkness alone and left mum and I peering after him. After a brief few moments, dad returned, ashen faced, and turned the car around so the headlights were pointing to the light in the ditch. He muttered something about an accident to mum, told me to stay in the car and took mum out into the night with him. I could see them moving around but couldn’t see what or who was involved in the accident. I remember being cold and frightened, like my parents and I were somehow in danger. I could sense the seriousness of the situation.

There were no mobile phones back then, but finally another car came along and mum flagged it down and had the driver speed off to a public phone box to call the ambulance. I remember seeing mum rush out of the ditch and onto the road when this car was coming, with her jacket in her hand; her lips tight with horror and cold. She ran out into the road and waved her jacket around like a flag. I thought for a moment that the car would hit her, and then I thought they would just pass her by, but the car stopped and after a frantic discussion that I couldn’t hear, that involved my mum gesturing to the ditch, pointing to her leg and gesturing like she was taking a hat off, the other car drove off in search of a phone box.

It was not long afterwards that the ambulance arrived. Dad came back briefly to move the car out of the way and then was back to the ditch, leaving me alone in the darkness pondering all kinds of horrors. In hardly no time at all though, mum and dad were back. They were no longer needed now the ambulance was there and they didn’t want to get in the way. We continued home.

Perhaps they thought I was asleep, perhaps they thought I couldn’t hear them, perhaps they had forgotten I was there, but they talked about the accident in the ditch on the way home and from what I heard there had been a motorbike accident. A young guy was driving and his girlfriend was on the back. The young guy had his thigh bone sticking up out of his leg – he was in a pretty bad way. Dad hadn’t initially seen the girlfriend and thought this was a lone rider, but the guy muttered urgently, “My girlfriend’s here.” It was mum who found the girlfriend, she had been thrown some distance away and was unconscious. Mum undid the strap on her helmet and the girl’s head gurgled.

Mum and dad did the best they could to make the guy comfortable and to stop his bleeding. They left the girl where she was, afraid to try to move her.

I went to bed with grizzly images that night.

Later, we found out that the guy had had his leg amputated, but his girlfriend had died.

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2 thoughts on “A small memoir

    • I had forgotten all about this incident until I sat down to write! And what for me was a faded memory, was tragic and life changing for others involved.

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