Friday, May 23, 2014
"Distracted" - A Short Story
The squeal of tires echoed in Darren’s head, slowly replaced by the hollow moans of pain. He did not remember the events that took place that morning three months ago, but the sounds and burnt rubber smell haunted his dreams. The pressure of the airbag on his face was lingering as he sat there with his head in his hands. It was a week after his seventeenth birthday and his life had completely changed. “It is time,” the guard said in a deep voice breaking Darren’s reverie. The words came across heavy, like a weight being placed on his shoulders. Darren knew this time would come. He would have to face the family of those who lost their lives while he was sentenced for something he did not remember doing. Darren stood slowly as the chains around his hands and feet clattered. He was about to find out the price he would have to pay for an honest mistake. Darren was led into the bright court room which only made is orange jumpsuit more incriminating. The silence that filled the room made it surreal, low sobs in the front row occasionally breaking through. He shuffled his way to the table while waiting for the judge to enter. Reporters anxiously wrote notes as whispers arose from the family members sitting behind the low wooden wall. “All rise,” the bailiff called. Everyone responded by standing swiftly as the bailiff continued, “the honorable Judge Michael Thorton presiding.” The judge walked up to his podium and motioned for everyone to sit down. He took a deep breath before continuing, looking Darren straight in the eyes. “Will the defendant please rise?” Darren’s lawyer tapped him on the shoulder indicating it was time for sentencing. They both stood from their seats and waited for the judge to continue. “Darren Ryan Harrison, you have been found guilty by the State of North Carolina for three counts of involuntary vehicular manslaughter. While your actions appeared to be minor, the consequences are irrevocable. As a direct result of texting while driving, your actions have resulted in the death of three individuals and impacted countless others.” Darren looked down at the table, ashamed for what he had done. Texting was something that everyone did. He did not think that it would ever result in something like this. He took the lives of three people because he could not wait to get to school before pulling out his phone. “Mr. Harrison, please look up while I am speaking.” The judge was stern and unmoving. “You will be an example for everyone in the State of North Carolina. Driving while distracted will not be tolerated. You are hereby sentenced to ten years in a maximum security facility for each count.” The gavel slammed down hard. “Court dismissed,” the judge declared. The sound struck Darren in the heart before the words truly sunk in. Thirty years in prison. Almost half of his life was now forfeited for a simple text message.