The red taillights of the motorcycle were a triple-pronged brand that burned her conscience with guilt and horror. Whether waking or sleeping, the red triangle haunted her, as did the mocking word on the passenger’s leather jacket, flashing white in her own headlights along the dark interstate of her memory.
She no longer drove herself anywhere, rarely leaving the house except to walk down the street to the nearest gas station. The last time she attempted to drive she bounced her new car slowly over a speed bump and promptly broke down in the middle of the grocery’s parking lot, killing the car’s engine, removing the keys and raking their teeth through her hair while some customers blew their horns in a cacophony of geese fury. Other customers— more observant, and subsequently horrified—scrambled to restrain her from scraping out more bloody strands of hair from her head.
She could not eat apples anymore, or anything that crunched when bitten; nor tomatoes or anything that smashed wetly inside her mouth. The truth was that she ate little of any food now, and wasted away in a limbo of self-loathing. She did not watch television anymore, either, with its “entertainment” of car crashes and sudden noises and pulse-quickening action giving way to tragedy. Her mind instead repeated the same reel again and again in a compulsory loop of torment: the motorcycle wobbling, the scream of the little boy, the motorcycle toppling over, the little boy’s body tumbling off the back of his drunken father’s bike, the shriek of her brakes, and the shriek of her own shrill voice, and the strangely rhythmic thumping beneath the underside of her old car as the shadows of the interstate pirouetted beneath a ghostly moon branded with those three red taillights.
Now she lived in shadow, the curtains of her home incessantly drawn and the sun shunned like the prying eye of a busybody god. She dwelt in darkness, and in that macabre memory, and sheathed her soul in an iron maiden of blame.
“I deserve this,” she said, and no one was there to contradict her.
The accident that fateful night would eventually claim three lives.

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