Having recently been told that he smelled like fall, he contemplates the mysteries of life on the drive home from the hospital and ultimately decides that everything is just a matter of compromise, a matter of picking what is easy or what is hard or what is right or what is left, because it would have been easy to swerve out of the truck's way when it tipped over and it would have been easy to put up with the abuse for the two more years he had left to put up with it, but suddenly he turned right instead of left and the dawning comprehension on his stepdad's face didn't have time to change. He wonders what it would have been, though, if the truck had taken a half-second longer to crush the passenger side to dust; would it have been easy - the anger that seemed to come so readily, the lip curl he knew so well? Or would it have been what was hard, what was right, would it have been an apology, a tiny, redeeming glance of remorse, just for a moment.
He stops at the accident intersection.
He had never stayed at a hospital overnight before last night, his roommate was a girl a year younger than him, and it goes like this: she wakes up in the middle of the night whispering to him about how scared she is about the surgery she has tomorrow and telling him she hates how the hospital smells, it smells like age, she says, but not the good kind of age that books smell like - hospitals smells like the bad kind of age - and it would have been easy not to say anything, to pretend he was asleep, but instead he rolls over, he looks her in her amber eyes, slick with tears and shining in the sterile moonlight that filters through the blinds of the third floor room, and he tells her that she has nice eyes and that he has never heard anyone describe smell like that, and she chokes out a smile, so he asks her what he smells like, and she tells him she can't tell from so far away, and so he gets up and stands next to her bed, she grabs his hand, pulls him next to her, and buries her face in his shoulder.
She says he smells like fall.
The light changes.