This is an example of what I call an 'emotive query story'. It is addressed to the reader in the form of an unstructured note because that is what the story is: an unstructured blurb designed to elicit an emotive response, normally through morbid or wrenching plot detail without giving the reader any clear idea as to the purpose. Ian McEwan is a writer who frequently uses this technique and I thought I would try my hand at it.
Hello. I am please to say that you have embarked on nothing strenuous or taxing here. This will not take up much of your time and soon you will most likely have forgotten this little passage and be moving on. You are here and I am no longer here and that is the extent of our connection.
I want you to embrace it because these words are not a 'connection' between us. You may think of them from time to time throughout the rest of what I hope will be a long and happy life, but you are not in anyway connected to me through these words.
This is important because what you are about to read is unlike anything else I will ever write and thus any connection to my being you fool yourself into believing in will be a hollowed out rut of earth in comparison to any true human emotive involvement with another. This text does not reflect who I am, it is merely what I was choosing to say, at a time long before you stumbled across this.
It was in a summer month, I forget which one, after all there are several and all much alike in a town where no seasonal food is grown. I was crossing the road that cuts through the centre of town, waiting patiently for the coach full of day-trippers to trundle past, when I saw a child of no more than six years old dart into the road. His father let out a bark of warning and the little boy stopped, leaving the coach just enough room to swerve around him. The mother gabbed the boy and slapped him several times, although not very hard and everyone at the road side waiting to cross was so fixated on the scene of a near disaster-turned into domestic banality; that they failed to notice the coach stopping and all of the passengers exiting very quickly. I only happened to be watching the coach because I had seen the drivers face as she swerved to avoid the child.
She had looked disappointed.
What followed was something that the papers described as 'a freak accident' and 'an unexplainable tragedy'.
Personally, I don't think anyone knew what to say about the coach woman.She was killed instantly on impact, the children and the mothers and the fathers and the friend, who had been milling around had all managed to get out of the way in time, and the cashiers working behind the inches of brick and steel of the bank walls suffered no worse than a little shock at the noise of impact. It was just her.
What I have never told anyone is this: I ran forward and held the drivers hand while the other people screamed or fled. I wrapped my fingers around hers, ignoring the blood that dripped from her nose, sticking our hands together lightly. I stayed with her like that because in the seconds that had passed before the moment the bus hit the wall, I knew there was a human in a lot of pain trapped inside that metal box.
I do not know her name, I refused to read beyond the tacky headlines, and in my mind I simply call her Annie. Annie let those people out of the vehicle because she knew what she was going to do, that I am certain of, but beyond that I have no clue as to who she was or why she did what she did.
We had no connection, and she was dead the first and only time I touched her.