Small Town Accident


Small Town Accident

By Skyla Nolan

In a small town, the smallest of tragedies become the biggest disasters in mere minutes. It doesn’t take a calamity to cause a panic. The crowds don’t need to be in imminent danger to feel as if they are, because everyone knows everyone else so well.

Everyone knows that Ella Prince failed her last math test badly enough to drop her down from a C to a D, and that now she’ll have to go to summer school, so they all go around whispering “oh isn’t it just too bad because she used to be such a bright girl, didn’t she?” Everyone knows that Martin Summers got a new car even though he and his wife are stretching their money as it is, and now they all wonder where such money could be coming from, so they all pile casseroles and deserts on their front steps for Mrs. Summers. Everyone knows that Ava Folly is cheating on her husband with not one, but two, of the Smith brothers, and that sooner or later she’ll be found out because Mr. Folly is getting suspicious, so they all try to steer clear of their street until it happens. Everyone knows that when Kevin Bryant was sixteen, he dropped out of high school and hitchhiked ‘round the country to “see the sights” before he settled down, and even though Kevin earned his GED years later and became a successful business owner, they all warn the Bryant children to “stay in school or you’ll regret it.”

So of course, when sixteen-year-old Nikki Bouchard was made the victim of a hit and run down by Clark’s General Store, practically everyone knew instantly. Cards were written for her and cash was sent to the family for bills and the parents in town offered Mr. and Mrs. Bouchard their advice (though they had no experience with anything of that magnitude) and food was sent to their house and absolutely everyone’s thoughts and prayers belonged to Nikki. It didn’t take a wildfire for the news to spread like wildfire, and suddenly everyone in town was completely shattered for the poor girl and her family.

Everyone knew everyone, of course, but that didn’t mean that everyone liked everyone. Now, every kid in Rowland High School claimed to be Nikki’s best friend, or at least insisted that they had lunch together every so often. People who had never uttered her name were beside themselves over the cataclysmic loss of this teenager they had never met. The whole town was absolutely overcome with grief three days later when Nikki died in her sleep while hooked up to half a dozen monitors and tubes in the hospital a county over from her home. Tears fell from the faces of the entire population of Rowland, all 4,338 – no,  4,337 citizens.

So, for better or for worse, everyone knows everything that happens in Rowland. Every stove-top fire is a catastrophe, every flooded basement a disaster, every car accident a tragedy. In a small town, it doesn’t take a devastation to devastate the masses.