The car seemed to get faster and faster. The music sounded louder and louder.
I looked to my left and saw a man walking his dog. The simple freedom and normality of it struck me.
I realised I wanted to get out of this car. I wanted to be walking, even getting wet in the rain – anything rather than be in this speeding ‘tin can’ right now. We stopped at a set of traffic lights. Instead of taking the left turn, which would’ve taken us in a loop back to mine, Tim went straight on ahead.
I think that was the moment I felt the most powerless.
There was little traffic on the roads, and the familiar streets of King’s Lynn rushed past us now as Tim urged the car on, thumping the steering wheel for emphasis while Jamie moved his head to the beat of the music.
By now the car was going way too fast, and it was scaring me.
Slow down, Tim, please just let me out, I screamed inside my head. Why the hell did I get into the car? I feel so bloody stupid! Despite my internal pleading, I still didn’t have the courage to beg him to pull over, but perhaps he wouldn’t have listened to me if I had.
Panic rose within me. Trees raced past us out of the window.
I froze, my mind whirling with fear, holding onto the seat with both hands gripped tightly to the edge of the faux designer cladding. My heart was pounding.
Please, just stop, just stop and let me out. He has to get fed up of driving, doesn’t he? I whispered to myself. I couldn’t have made him hear me even if I’d tried, as the beat of the rap music blared from the car stereo.
Sarah and I shot terrified looks at each other. By now, we knew this wasn’t going to end well. I could see that from the expression on Sarah’s face, reflecting mine. We grabbed for each other’s hands. There was no time to pray, but then who or what would I have prayed to? It felt like we were beyond help, beyond divine intervention of any sort. I wasn’t brought up to be religious, preferring to trust in my own sense of my destiny rather than a great force somewhere out there deciding my fate. Yet it had got me here, inside this car, speeding towards an unknown future, my fate already sealed, though I didn’t yet know it.
The car’s wheels bumped as they hit Castle Rising Road, which was more like a country lane. We’d only been driving a few minutes. Everything happened so quickly. It wasn’t raining but there were gaping great puddles in the road from earlier. The car swerved as it hit one of them, speeding through the rainwater.
It was all over in a fraction of a second.
The moment when my life, as it was, was utterly destroyed; altered forever.
The car aquaplaned. Tim took his hands from the steering wheel, holding them aloft in a kind of quasi-religious pose. Jamie grabbed for the wheel as the car spun out of control, veering violently to the right. The trees reared up in front of us. The lane was dark, bushes and vegetation covering both sides of the road completely.
My next thought was, we’re going to die.
The last thing I remember is the screaming as the world turned over along with the car, which landed in a ditch at the roadside, the radio still blaring.
Then there was silence. I think perhaps I had passed out. The crash, even now, is a blur of noises, people and lucid moments interwoven with panic, fear and the strange sensation of having no sensations at all.
Blinking, my eyes focused but I wrinkled my face, confused. Where was the steering wheel? Where were the passengers? Why was I facing what looked like a ditch, and several tree stumps? It was then I realised that I was lying on my front on the inside of the roof of the car, facing through the back window, which was the wrong way up. I’d been flipped over.
I could hear voices from the roadside; I was sure there was no one else inside the vehicle with me. It was then that I felt the pain in my neck, an agony I can barely describe.
‘Call an ambulance,’ I said with as much strength as I could manage. Sarah’s knees appeared, crouching next to me. ‘Call Mum,’ I added. My throat tightened and I felt rather than saw that the seat belt was twisted around my neck, strangling me as I hung from it. Panic set in. My weight was pulling down on the seat belt, which was now tightening with every breath I took.
‘Help me, I’m choking, I can’t breathe!’ I managed to shout and one of the boys, Tim, I think, peered into the back. His face was white with shock. It seemed obvious, even to me in the state I was in, that no one knew what the hell to do.
‘Undo the seat belt, I can’t breathe,’ I said again, wondering why everyone was so slow to act. My heart was thudding as adrenalin coursed through me.
The car seemed to swim yellow in front of my eyes, and I knew I was seconds from passing out.
I don’t know how he did it but moments later, or so it seemed, he returned. I was drowning, in and out of consciousness, then I felt the sudden jolt of relief as the seat belt, my hangman’s noose, was undone.
Perhaps that was the point at which my neck was broken. Perhaps that was the moment that continues to define every second of my existence. Who can ever know?
My head snapped forward and I slumped onto the car roof. Lying there, my face and hair covered with glass from the shattered windscreen, I was surrounded by a pool of blood that I realised by now was probably mine. But I was grateful to be able to gasp in lungfuls of air.
Still alive. Still breathing.
This exclusive extract was taken from Jordan Bone’s new book ‘My Beautiful Struggle’, published by Trapeze Books, part of the Orion Publishing Group.