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Three high school girls died today, two of them sisters. Their bodies -- tracery networks of firm and less firm tissues -- hammered into a gauntlet of steel and plastic parts inside their car. Momentum abruptly forced their delicate bodies into their unforgiving surroundings with a speed and power best described in Newtonian terms.

Their car, which carried one girl to the hospital and three to their deaths, was stopped on Route 53 in Pembroke, Massachusetts this morning by an oncoming pick-up truck in the opposite travel lane. One can imagine loud music (or soft conversation), an off duty police officer in his pick-up maybe a quarter mile down the road, around a curve, but just a soft one. The rain was heavy at times and maybe it started with a tap of the brakes and a spark of adrenaline. The pedal was pushed urgently down; nodding heads turned very quickly and understood the danger but not the full extent of it. The brakes worked. The wheels stopped. But that thin film of water...

Today as I dropped my daughter off at school and then picked her up I thought of children. My children. Our children. I had watched boys playing in the school yard, the rain had tapered off by about 11:00 AM. One boy ran toward the school building, and stuck his feet out it front of himself in a practiced maneuver and slid on the soles of his first-day-of-school sneakers, across the wet blacktop, to a neat stop. I thought, "How does a kid learn that by age 8?" He pulled up by his friend only inches from the red brick of the school, nonchalant but proud nonetheless. It wouldn't work on dry pavement. But that thin film of water...

The rubber, you understand, just doesn't grip the pavement if the speed is too high. Oh I know its too late for lessons. Too late for "I told you to be careful." or for seat belts. Too late for practice in the school yard, with wet sneakers.

The car slides across the yellow line. The girls are scared. This might be very bad. The cop thinks, "Oh, God."

He knows how bad it is.

-- --


The following comments are for "16 is Too Young"
by Philo

On first read, I was struck by two different issues, the first one being the sadness of the loss being foremost. The first paragraph is full of good imagery, but the word choice is definitely of a different type than the rest of the piece. I had this feeling of beginning to settle into a rhythm by the end of paragraph one, and then finding myself smack into another rhythm from that point forward. Perhaps that was your intention?

( Posted by: Feistyfemale [Member] On: January 5, 2003 )

Tragedy reply
Your comment ended with a question mark so I'm assuming you'd like me to respond. First, I'm a new member and I'm excited to recieve the feedback. I think you're on as far as the feeling you got; the feeling of loss in this small town was crushing. The tone of the first paragraph is intended to read like a headline and the overall rhythm like an article in a small town local paper. Thanks.

( Posted by: Philo [Member] On: January 5, 2003 )

Good :)
You portray emotion well. I liked this. :)

( Posted by: Comus_Bassington [Member] On: January 12, 2003 )

very good wording
it struck at a sore point in our responces to some things that we LET happen, we really should be more in control over what goes on under our noses. but like FEISTYFEMALE pointed out, we have been thrown into different rhythms throughouut the piece. maybe you could work on that!

( Posted by: man eating maniac [Member] On: January 14, 2003 )

Philo, I enjoyed this piece. The way you jumped from the accident to dropping your child off and watching their antics, and then back to the accident. Sometimes you wonder if you children will live through their childhoods, and if they do, will they live through that?
A good read.


( Posted by: kimberly bird [Member] On: October 10, 2003 )

I thought it was beautiful, flow nor words stop a great plot. You could have elaborated towards the end, but you are the story writer and have not a right to judge.

( Posted by: misspixious [Member] On: November 19, 2004 )

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