Have You Had an Accident that Wasn’t Your Fault – By @chlo_gray
By Chloe Gray
Have You Had an Accident that Wasn’t Your Fault
“Hello Chloë, you’re in an ambulance. You’ve been hit by a car. Can you hear me?”
I’d been at a fashion party in Shoreditch. Trendy people stood around the club in big coats and limited edition trainers, turning down the canapés that were offered to them and trying not to look like they were having too much fun. After a while, the free bar loosened up the room and for a few hours everyone forgot to act cool. Ms Banks performed, Eva, Lawrence and I danced, and Philip flailed his limbs around to the music in an abstract imitation of human movement.
When the event ended we regrouped on the street outside the venue. I hadn’t finished gallivanting so shepherded everyone to an afterparty around the corner. The last moment in my memory is Eva telling me to say goodbye to the friends we’d made because our uber home had arrived. I don’t remember crossing the road, or being knocked into the air, or hitting the ground head first. I laid on Old Street for 10 minutes, bleeding and unconscious.
I woke up in the ambulance and realised I was violently shivering; the paramedics had cut off my clothes to assess my injuries. I remember feeling the coldest I’d ever been but also a little bit smug in the knowledge I’d put on matching underwear that evening. Eva rode with me in the ambulance and stayed at my bedside the whole time I was in hospital. She held my hand while the surgeon stitched up my head and called my parents to reassure them I was going to be okay.
Despite having witnessed something so traumatic, she put on a brave face and cared for me until I was well enough to make the journey back to my parents’ house.
I’ve realised recently that I’m somewhat guarded as a person. Talking about my emotions is up there with watching Jeremy Kyle and jogging on the list of things I hate doing and I’d rather stay at home than have to be weak in front of people. But Eva saw me in the most vulnerable state of my life that night and the following day, and she didn’t freak out or check out for a second. She met my helplessness with empathy and kindness, and made me realise that sometimes other people can help me more than I can help myself. Relationships are forged in life’s messy hours and shying away from my humanity has never brought me closer to other humans.
I had a lot of time to think while I was in bed for a week. I wondered about the driver of the car that hit me – were they young or old? Why did they drive away instead of stopping to see if I was alive? Were they drunk or on drugs or uninsured? Was it an uber driver scared of losing their job? Was it someone rushing to drive their in-labour wife to hospital? Was there someone else in the car with them? Did they tell anyone about what happened, or did they take the secret to bed and hope it wouldn’t come back to haunt them? Did they even remember what had happened when they woke up in the morning? Did they refresh the page several times over the weekend for news of a girl killed in Shoreditch?
As an entitled child of the Information Age, who has never existed without Google and is truly spoilt by instant knowledge, the lack of answers to my many questions has been vexing.
Someone asked me if I’d had any near-death revelations. They wanted to know whether my perspective had changed or if I’d suddenly realised there’s something I’d rather be doing than studying advertising. The honest answer is no. If anything, my desperation to get out of bed and get back to school made me realise how much I wanted to be at SCA. If this had happened to me six months ago when I was working in a job that neither excited nor delighted me, I definitely would have exaggerated my injuries and taken a month off work. I think knowing school was waiting for me made me recover quicker than I would have if I didn’t have something I needed to get back to. Walking into the studio on Monday and seeing the brilliant people I love to spend my days with was all the reassurance I needed that I’m in the right place, and (not to be dramatic) I could die tomorrow and not have any regrets about how I spent the last days of my life.