She heard the car coming from behind. She did not, and would not, move from the middle of the narrow road. The car was moving fast and when it hit her, it would throw her lifeless body into the ditch. The driver couldn't know she was in the road. Their view obscured by the tall hedges on either side of the bend in the road. People had died in this very location before. She wished the car would hit her with enough force to bring her ever repeating life to an end.
The car rounded the bend, nearing top its speed, aimed right at her. Its tyres screeched as it passed her, coming to an abrupt stop in the road ahead of her. A sorrow washed over her as she remained standing in the road. She would have cried, but she hadn’t been able to shed a single tear for the past five years. She hadn’t been able to do much of anything.
“What the bloody hell do you think you are playing at!” the man shouted as he got out of his large boxy car.
“Oi, you!” he yelled at her as she turned, walking away, her head cast down with long dirty hair covering her face. He ran past to her, stood in front of her shouting and waving his arms in anger. “What the hell is wrong with you! Walking in the middle of the night and dressed in black.” She remained silent, continuing to walk.
“I thought I'd hit you for sure,” he continued. The anger sliding away with every word he spoke.
He stretched his arms wide, preventing her from continuing. She stopped, slowly lifted her head without speaking. When her eyes met his, the colour drained from his face. He stepped out of her way, saying, “I’m calling the guards,” the anger was gone, leaving a hollowness in his voice.
He walked back to his car while making a phone call. She couldn’t hear or understand what he said. She only heard the car start a few moments later. The car crept behind her, its flashing yellow hazard lights illuminating the surrounding hedges. The guards had instructed the man to ‘Follow her with your hazard lights on until we get there’. They said this to all drivers that hit her.
When the garda arrived, he parked his car across the road, preventing her from walking any further.
“So, Lucy, out for another one of your strolls?” said the garda. She couldn’t remember his name. He was the younger of the two guards that always came to pick her up. She didn’t answer him.
“Ah, the silent treatment again,” he said, no emotion to voice. “Fine by me, but you know as well as I do, you need to be wearing reflective clothing if you are going to be on the roads this late.”
She stood still as he spoke, keeping her gaze on her bare feet, giving no suggestion she was listening.
“Have it your way but I am telling you, one of these days someone will hit you and you'll not only ruin your own life but theirs too.” he always said this to her in some fashion or another, it was precisely what she wanted to happen.
“Right, I’m bringing you home to your dad.” he took her by the arm and put her in the back of the police car. She allowed him to grab her arm and moved with him toward the car. After he closed the door and walked away, she could hear muffled voices, then a car door closing and an engine starting. The garda got back into the car but didn’t say another word the entire drive back to her father’s house.
He climbed out of the car and went to the front door. A moment later, her father came to the door with apprehension on his face. The two men spoke for some time before the garda returned to release her from the car. He followed her into the house, where she could see her father’s frail face. His eyes were wet with the threat of tears. She was glad to see it.
She allowed the garda to put her into a chair in the living room as her father babbled on. “I’m so sorry, I really am, I just have no control over her, that poor man, he must have been scared out of his wits, he was really lucky by the sounds of it, he really could have…”
“Are you making any progress with her at all?” asked the garda.
“Well, she just won’t listen to me.” her father said, his voice weak.
“Right, Donald, if this happens again, we will need to prosecute. There’s only so many favours I can give. You understand?”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I.. I just wish..” her father broke down into tears. She would have smiled if she could.
The tears subsided once the officer fetched a glass of water, showing little sympathy for the sorry old man.
“I’m so sorry. This all started after Sally died,” her father went on with raspy breaths between words. “She has never been the same since she killed herself.”
“Well, there normally is a cause to behaviour like this but that doesn’t make it right.” said the officer. He stood the entire time he was in her father’s house. It made her wonder if he really wanted to leave, but her father just kept talking.
“Sally got so depressed after she hit..” her father made a wet sniffling sound “after she hit somebody on that road, the one Lucy walks.”
“I can’t remember Sally hitting anyone on that road.” said the garda, taking a small notepad from one of his many pockets. “When did that happen?” sounding more like he was questioning someone rather than reassuring an elderly man.
“I don’t know, really. I assume it was before she got depressed. We never talked about it but it was in her suicide note.” Her father seemed to get his act together. He shouldn’t have mentioned their crash. The radio attached to the officer’s vest made some noise, and the garda spoke into it for a moment.
“Donald, I have to go, but I will have someone come down to speak with both you and Lucy first thing tomorrow morning. Do not let her out of your sight, this is happening more and more often.” The garda shook hands with her father and left. Her father didn’t even get out of the chair. He was getting so old. She looked the same as she did 5 years ago. They sat together without speaking. The only sound between them was her father’s weak sobs.
She wanted him to cry, to be alone. It was his fault that her mother was dead. He treated her mother like she was a slave, only there to meet his needs. He refused to have more children because ‘one costs too much as it is’ even though he drank every night of the week. It was his fault that she didn’t have any reflective clothing, his fault that her mother didn’t see her walking that night, his fault she never had a proper funeral, he had killed both of them and hid the evidence so his slave of a wife could remain locked up in his prison.
He stood up and went to the phone. She knew he would call the local priest. He always did that when she returned from one of her walks. She could hear his half of the conversation but had heard it so many times it was useless listening. She stood up from the chair the garda had placed her in. Her father dropped the phone.
“You need to stay r…r… right here.” there was a new confidence in his voice she had not heard since her mother was alive. “Father McGuire is on his way right now!”
She walked toward the front door, noticing the cross hanging from a nail on the back of it. How could a small piece of wood stop her? She passed through the door, leaving it closed, like a breeze blowing through an insect screen. Like all those cars that never hit her. He shouted something, but she couldn’t hear him through the door. She walked toward the road hoping to get hit by another car and die a second time.