I see her just in time—a young woman (a girl, frankly) with her ear buds in. She's one of the many who hasn't bothered to look one way, let alone both ways, before stepping into the street today—I see her just in time to stomp the brakes in order not to kill her. She never knows what didn't hit her. She's wearing a t-shirt with WTF on it. Of course, I know what this means. I've texted it to friends. I've said it, outright, in public, have whispered it, thought it, written it, been at the center of what this means, and what it is. But what I read, instead, seeing her t-shirt's three letters through my windshield this afternoon is What's to Fear? Because she hasn't bothered to fear today, it seems. Some other time I might have gotten angry, honked my horn, unrolled my window, shouted something out about suicidal tendencies, childish stupidity—but today, I say to her, silently, instead: May such times continue to slam their brakes for you, as you continue on your way. Or may you at least look up just in time one day to say to yourself something simple, like: I've made a regrettable but rectifiable mistake, while the motorcades pass through you without wounding you, the flashing sirens and lights, the patriotic parades, the hearses flapping their miniature flags, the whole vehicular physics of everything slipping through you, waving politely, as if Nothing might be the answer to the question you're not asking: What's to fear? As if this could save someone so young and so carefree (I used to be you) so that you, too, might live long enough to be a driver in some distant future slamming on the brakes just in time to save some people who weren't paying much attention to the world around them because they didn't think they needed to—people like me and you.
To hear Laura Kasischke read “WTF,” please click here:
To hear an expanded interview with Laura Kasischke on To the Best of Our Knowledge, click here: