It’s tiring, sometimes. The daily grind: waking up, groggily searching for an irritating mobile alarm, stumbling to the bathroom, foam falling from a gaping mouth as you brush your teeth. You should floss more, you think. You never do.

The air today is brisk, cold. Crisp. It nips at your skin and gnaws at your fingers, and a thin blanket of snow stretches before the world. A white carpet: After you, it seems to beckon. You don’t want to leave the warmth of your abode―a cocoon of comfort that swaddles you in its embrace―but you must.

One foot in front of the other. You’re glad you picked the shoes you did―the worst thing would be to trip over the minute cracks and uneven details of the concrete sidewalk panels as you made your familiar commute. Some music would be nice, you think, and you pop in your brother’s old earbuds. The left one doesn’t work unless you turn the headphone jack a certain way and make sure the cord is straight, but the right ear is perfectly functional. You’re in a Gorillaz kind of mood. Dangerous, like Clint Eastwood, and you meander along to the beat.

Something breaks through the cacophony of 2D and Del the Funky Homosapien: There is a squeal to your left. A piercing, harsh sound―the sound of the end. You raise an eyebrow. You turn.

Here’s a riddle, you note: What do you get when you add two car bumpers, an overworked speedometer, one cell phone, and an intersection?

There is red everywhere. Viscous and glossy. It doesn’t belong there.

You find yourself on wobbly legs moving toward the site of the crash. Twisted shards of metal stand out in a grey horizon. You think it would be better to run, to run away, to look away, to do anything at all except continue your approach of the wreckage, but you’ve lost control of your own body. You can’t stop.

2D spurs you on.

You want more than anything to disappear from the crowd, the confusion. You wish you were back in the cocoon, but you know you won’t be able to leave without seeing for yourself.

When you finally reach the scene, you’re breathless. It’s madness: People are screaming, and a crowd is forming and you hear cries of shock around you. But you see something familiar in the chaos, the throng of people.

Is that who you think it is?

The disparate final notes of the song fade away as you stare into familiar eyes.

—By Victoria C., 18, Alberta, Canada