Too Late to Slow Down by Jack Farquharson

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I started forward again...

"WHOOSH!"

The impact threw me violently backwards as the car suddenly erupted in flames. I hit the ground hard, the breath exploding from my lungs. My face felt raw, as though someone had pressed a hot iron against my skin, and my clothes were smoking. I groaned, and tried to push myself to my feet.

As I did so, the heat from the flames of the car drove home the reality of the situation. Kelly was still in there. I stumbled as I tried to get close to the car, franticly crying and calling out her name, but it was no use. The flames were too hot, and I couldn't get near. Dropping to my knees in the mud, I screamed in agony at the realisation of what I had done, and then buried my face in my hands, tears streaming down my blistered skin.

That was how the members of the emergency services found me.

****

I could feel the presence of my friends and family. All the while since the accident, they had been there, like rocks, trying to support me. Even Kelly's family, through their own grief, were with me, encouraging and supporting.

None of them knew.

All they saw was a grieving husband, who had lost his wife in a tragic accident.

They didn't know!

As I looked up from the open grave, I could see Kelly's parents standing opposite me. They were pale and haggard looking. The endless crying had taken its toll. Her father, Brian, tried to offer me a smile across the polished wooden surface of the coffin. I tried to respond, but all my burned lips could manage was a twisted grimace.

Behind Brian, I caught sight of a grinning countenance. I didn't recognise him, and when I blinked to try and clear the moisture from my eyes, he was gone. I shook my head, to try and clear it of the roaring noise, but to no avail.

Throughout the rest of the burial ceremony, I caught glimpse of the grinning face again and again. He would appear behind a friend or family member, and then disappear again, just as quickly.

Maybe I was losing it. Shock could cause such a loss of sanity.

I knew though, that this was not really the case. I knew who the face was. He was reminding me, that this was my fault, and that one day, I would really burn for it. I had earned nothing other than an eternity of pain for my actions.

Kelly hated when I drove too fast. She was always warning me to slow down, but I knew best! I was in control. That night, we had been arguing, and anger made me drive even faster. Kelly had pleaded with me to take it easy, but I had dug my heels in and kept my foot on the accelerator. What did she know anyway? She couldn't drive, and wouldn't even let me teach her. I knew what I was doing.

I certainly knew what I had done. I had killed her, and that evening, Hell had watched. As Kelly was starting her final journey, to what I hoped was a better place, I had taken my first step on the fiery red carpet.

It was too late to slow down now.