Second Person stopped at the four-lane intersection. Ahead of him were a gas station on one side and a small pool business with a gravel driveway on the other.
He was returning home from having lunch in downtown Canterlot City, his soda cup in the holder. Scarfing down pizza buffets wasn't his only business in town, though. He was bringing home a DVD for his daughter, Bitter Honey.
It wasn't a blockbuster by any means. It was a cheap CGI animated story about talking boats made by a Brazilian studio, proudly boasting the names of has-been Hollywood actors which contributed to the no doubt subpar English dub. Of course, it was exactly a toddler's cup of tea. If it pleased his daughter, then who was he to judge?
A few days before, the colorful characters on the cover had caught Bitter's eye during a family shopping trip. His wife, Sour Sweet had said no to her begging at the time. Second tried to find the movie on a streaming service with no luck. So, ever the sly "fun dad", obtaining the physical copy became his objective for the day. He was planning to surprise her with it later when he picked her up from preschool.
The vehicle with the right-of-way took off, a big white truck inching up to take its spot. Second let off the brake to begin his way to the other side.
The other side was not to be, though.
Second's car was halfway into the crossing when something caught the corner of his eye. He turned his head. A green car was speeding right toward him.
In reality, it couldn't have been more than a half-second of time. However, when one suddenly finds their mind caught up in the moment, there is all the time in multiverse for questions.
Is this actually happening? Is it going to swerve? Should I speed up? Hit the brakes? What the hell do I do? Am I going to die? Bitter, take care of Sour for me, okay?
The loudest noise Second had ever heard rang out. The left front side of his vehicle was struck, forcing it to the side. It could have spun completely around if it hadn't found its second impact. His car went headfirst into the front of the white truck, still at the stop sign.
Second sat there in shock for a moment. His eyes darted around. The driver side window was smashed with a deflated side airbag hanging out. Another frontal one hung out of the steering wheel. He didn't even remember either of them deploying. Everything went by so fast.
Smoke wafted around, clicking Second's survival instinct as if there was a chance the thing was about to blow. He tried to open the driver door. It wouldn't budge. He maneuvered to the other side, taking note of the floor, littered by splashed soda with ice as well as scattered ashtray pennies. The passenger door opened.
Second stepped out onto the road. With his mind still processing what just happened, he only half-noticed that his shoes were full of glass. Second looked around before spotting the car which had hit him. It had nosed-dived into the ditch next to the road. People were parking or rushing over from the gas station to see if they could help. The sight made Second's legs begin to shake.
Second turned to see Big Mac stepping out of the white truck and coming over to him.
"Y-yeah," Second stuttered, before pointing to the other car. "But are they okay?"
"Don't know," Big Mac replied. "Looks like yer arm's bleedin', though."
Second immediately glanced down at his left arm. A patch of blood was indeed around his elbow with specks of glass present. His hand had a small cut below his pinkie with a larger one in the middle of his ring finger. Glancing further down, he saw blood running down his left leg from cuts on his knee and the side of his calf. Despite all that, though, he didn't feel any pain.
Bodily fluids aside, his mind fully processed that he was fine as was Big Mac. He needed to know that the other driver was as well. He took a step and fully realized that there was glass still in his shoes. He stopped to empty them. He walked around the collision of the two vehicles, finding it ironic that while his car was completely totaled, Big Mac's truck likely only had a dented bumper.
Second entered the gravel parking lot of the pool business. A small crowd was around the older woman who had been helped out of her car and up the ditch. Someone had taken one of the plastic chairs from the front of the business ( probably used by employees for smoke breaks ) so she could sit down. Second was relieved to see that it appeared she didn't have a scratch on her. Someone handed her their cellphone for her to use.
"Is she okay?" Second asked as he came up.
"She's fine," somebody confirmed. "Were you the one in the red car?"
"Yeah, I think I'm okay."
A woman, ironically wearing the shirt of well-known insurance company, came up. "I was already on the phone with 911, following her. She was driving erratically and running stop signs even before she hit you."
"She said she has diabetes," another person informed. "Her blood sugar must have dropped quickly while driving. She doesn't remember the crash."
Second looked at the older woman with newfound sympathy. However, the more he gazed at her, the more recognition began dawning on him. Her hair was down and graying, but their was no mistaking that angular face and beauty mark.
It was Abacus Cinch.
Cinch got off the phone and immediately looked his way. Second couldn't help but to flinch as memories of his strict, blackmailing former principal flooded his mind. She got up from the seat and came toward him.
"Were you the one I hit?" she asked.
Second nodded nervously. "Uh, yes, ma'am."
Cinch suddenly gave him a side hug. Second's eyes popped with shock and confusion.
"I'm so sorry, dear," Cinch sighed with sincere-sounding grief. "I-I don't even remember running that stop sign."
Second smiled politely. "It's alright. No one was hurt."
Cinch smiled and went back to sit down. The realization hit Second that she didn't even recognize him as one of her former students. Was it simply the passage of time... or did she have some serious health issues? The possibly of the latter made Second's empathy grow.
"This yer first wreck?" Big Mac asked, breaking Second's thoughts.
Second smirked and nodded. "Eeyup."
Big Mac smirked back and held out his hand. "Congrats."
Second chuckled and shook his hand. "Thanks."
It wasn't long before the emergency vehicles and police cars came along.
A medic came over to the crowd and cheerfully asked, "Okay, who was involved here?"
"Me, this guy, and the woman over there," Second responded. "They say they're just fine, but – " He raised the arm which had the cuts. " – I do have some bleeding."
"Come with me and I'll clean that up for you," the medic said.
Second followed him back to an ambulance. A bottle of alcohol was retrieved along with a sanitized cloth. Before starting, the medic flicked off the pieces of glass which were simply sticking to the blood. A bit of relief swept over Second. A paranoid part of his mind was afraid that some of those pieces may have actually been lodged in.
"You know, I really don't feel much pain," Second mentioned.
The medic chuckled. "Well, that's the adrenaline flowing through your body right now. Tomorrow morning you could wake up feeling awful. Or not until next week. Or ten years from now, even. You never know."
"The woman who hit me said she has diabetes. She may need to be taken to the hospital."
The medic smiled and nodded. "We'll take care of her."
Second went back over to the small crowd where a police officer was talking with Big Mac. He recognized the officer as Shining Armor. Second knew Shining quite well from years back when he was best friends with his older brother, First Person.
"Glad to see you're okay, Second," Shining said.
Second nodded. "Sure glad I am as well. Weird how it was Cinch, though."
"What a way to have a CPA reunion, right?" Shining joked.
"Well, I'm going to need to see your license and insurance."
Second pulled out his wallet. "Here's my license, but the insurance card is still in my car."
Second handed over the license and returned to his wreck of a car. He retrieved the insurance card out of a pull-out compartment. He was about to leave when he thought he should pull out his keys. As he reached in for them, he remembered something else he absolutely could not leave behind. He reached behind the seat and found the plastic bag containing the DVD he had bought for Bitter on the floor. He shook it slightly, hearing no sound of a loose disk.
He smiled. It had survived.
As he walked back to Shining, the medics had loaded Cinch up onto a gurney. She gave him one last apologetic smile as she was pushed by. Second wondered how long his former principal had been suffering from health problems. Was she going through them when he was at Crystal Prep? Would knowing about it have affected his opinion of her then?
"Here you go," Second said as he handed over the insurance card.
"Excuse me, officer?"
Second and Shining turned to see a man walking over from the direction of gas station. "I wanted to tell you that the station's security caught the whole thing on video."
Shining raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
The man nodded. "Yep, they got a camera pointed right at the intersection. The owner and some of us were watching it on repeat in there. That green car must have been going fifty miles an hour passed the stop sign, right into the red."
Shining nodded. "That's something I'd like to see. You're very lucky, Second. Video like that would leave no doubt that you're not at fault."
Second pulled out his phone. "I'd love to get a recording of it to show the insurance company." He tried to turn it on with no luck. "Crap. The impact must have messed something up with this thing."
Shining patted him lightly on the shoulder. "I'm sure something can be worked out later, but I would advise you to get checked out at the hospital."
"But I feel fine," Second stated. That was a half-truth, of course. He was indeed finally beginning to feel some achiness.
Shining shrugged. "Better safe than sorry."
Soon after, Shining Armor gave Second the ride to the hospital. It was the best thing to do, Second had decided. With his car gone to auto heaven and phone not turning on, he needed to get in touch with Sour Sweet to let her know what had happened. Also, it wouldn't hurt to get looked at.
"So, what areas hurt exactly?" Doctor Horse asked.
"My neck's a bit stiff, my knees have began to hurt when I walk, and my lower stomach seems to have a slight pain."
Doctor Horse nodded. "Your seat belt catching you hard is the likely cause for that stomach pain. The ugliest bruise you've ever seen is going to appear there by tomorrow. It's what we like to call around here a 'seat stamp'." He chuckled. "Not the most creative name, is it?"
Second smiled. "Not bad."
Doctor Horse began his examination. He asked Second to raise his arms up, felt around his collarbone to try to detect fractures, and even checked his temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. Second's left knee was causing the most pain, so he agreed to have it x-rayed along with his neck. Thankfully, nothing was found.
"I would like to write you a prescription for tizanidine, which is a muscle relaxer, and some high-dose ibuprofen," Doctor Horse said after giving Second the good news. "Just because you feel mostly fine now doesn't necessarily mean you can't break out in terrible pain later. And, of course, you can always call in for another appointment with me if you need to, Mister Person."
Second reached out to shake his hand. "Well, thanks for everything, Doc – "
The door suddenly swung open, causing both Second and Doctor Horse to jump. There stood Sour Sweet... and she did not look happy. Her chest heaved from what Second could only assume was her hurrying all the way from the Pediatric Unit. Word must have spread among the staff that he was brought in.
Doctor Horse's eyes widened. "I'll, uh, leave you two alone."
He quickly slipped by Sour and ran for cover into the hall.
"Second Person..." Sour seethed. "What the HELL were you trying to do today? Cause Bitter to grow up without her father? Make ME a widow?!"
"W-w-wait, S-Sour...!" Second stuttered in utter terror. "I-It wasn't my fault! I was just – "
He was cut off by Sour taking him in an embrace. It wasn't too tight, likely being mindful of possibly injuries. Second smiled and returned it.
"I'm glad you're okay," Sour said softly. She broke the hug and stepped back. "What happened?"
Second shrugged. "I got hit while trying to cross the street. And you won't even believe who it was either!"
"It was Cinch."
Sour froze, just staring at him for several moments. Finally, her face began to contort into unbridled fury which even eclipsed the level displayed when she came in.
"Cinch?" she hissed through clenched teeth. "It was CINCH who almost killed you?!"
Second held out his hands. "Wait, wait! Calm down, Sour. She had low blood sugar. She didn't even have any memory of what happened."
Sour rolled her eyes. "And you BELIEVED that?! I bet she just said all that to cover her ass in being responsible for the crash! You know what your problem is, Second? You're too TRUSTING of people! Have some discernment!"
Second paused for a moment, a little surprised by his wife's words. "You could be right, Sour. Maybe I do try to find the good in people too much. Discernment may be something I need more of." He suddenly smiled and reached up to stroke Sour's cheek. "Then again, if I did have more discernment, I probably would have never gotten together with someone struggling with schizophrenia." He laughed before adding sarcastically, "Too much baggage, you know?"
Sour's face fell. She knew he was right.
She glanced away before uttering, "So what am I supposed to do? Feel sorry for Cinch now?"
"Of course," Second stated matter-of-factly.
Sour's eyes darted back. "And WHY would I do that, exactly?"
Second leaned in and planted a kiss on her forehead. "Because I know you are a good doctor and an even better human being."
Sour stood in silence before letting out a frustrated sigh. "Fine. I guess I can find out which room she's in and see how she's doing..."
"We both will," Second said as he slid off the examination table, making sure to grab the DVD off the nearby desk.
Sour noticed and asked, "Bought a movie?"
Second held it up. "Yeah, I was in town getting this for Bitter."
Sour leaned in to get a better look. "Talking boats, huh?" She chuckled. "Sounds good to me. We'll watch it together tonight. Hope Bitter likes it."
"She better," Second joked. "I almost died to get it."