“Do you want to build a snowman?”
The words bounced around inside Maddie’s head just as they had done hundreds, if not thousands of times before. The repetition of the words was what had prompted her mother to insist on the headphones. The thought of the music being a distraction to her driving had never entered either mother or daughter’s head. How seldom are good ideas intentional? Still, the sound-deadening headphones that were purchased as a means for Maddie’s mom and dad to block out the repetitive insanity that Disney had introduced into their lives, prevented Maddie from hearing her mother’s four-letter word as she noticed a black Audi from Florida spinning in their direction. “Go away Anna.” “Ok bye.”
As the words were sung, the black Audi from Florida contacted the grey minivan. Maddie noticed when the the straps of her car seat tightened as the restraints slowed her forward momentum. This reminded Maddie of the way it felt when her daddy would pick her up and throw her around. The game was called “Wee!” and had to be played when mommy wasn’t looking. She thought that daddy was way better than any playground toy in that way. Still, mommy had yelled at daddy for throwing her too high. Instead of continuing forward with an argument, Maddie’s dad had gone up and squished all opposition with a kiss. The memory caused Maddie to giggle. The headphones prevented any of the metal crunching sounds from reaching her ears. Maybe if they hadn’t, the whole experience would have been different, but setting the events to the Frozen soundtrack changed Maddie’s view of them. As the glass from the windshield burst into the car, the small pieces reminded Maddie of snowflakes falling onto a black piece of construction paper, or maybe they were closer to twinkling stars set against a black, night sky. “Do you wanna build a snowman?”
As the incomprehensible wreck continued, mommy’s seat was pushed back by the rear driver’s-side tire of the black Audi from Florida. Her long blond hair was carried backwards by the wings of momentum and for just a moment, Maddie could smell her mother’s shampoo. She remembered waking up from a nightmare a few weeks earlier. She had run into her parents’ bedroom and mommy had opened the covers and allowed her to curl up, cuddling her as only a mother can do. Maddie had fallen asleep to the smell of Pantene and the feeling that she was as safe as she could possibly be. The feeling returned and Maddie closed her eyes for the last time as the minivan cuddled her away to the afterlife.
Later, the Pulaski County Fire Chief would report that an accident was caused by black ice. “The black ice caused a Black, 2015 Audi A6 from Polk county, Florida, driven by ############### to spin out and enter oncoming traffic lanes where it impacted a Grey, 1992 Dodge Caravan from Roanoke County, Virginia, driven by ############ and containing Madeline Duncan. The accident would lead to the deaths of both occupants of the minivan.” However, when writing the report, the chief would omit two facts. First, it nor the subsequent police report would state that the driver of the Black Audi from Florida was intoxicated. Lastly, neither report would mention that when the rescuers from station #2 pealed back the side of the minivan, they found the body of a small, four-year-old girl with a smile on her face.