A Crack in My Windshield

Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 38

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash.com

I don’t remember how the windshield crack began. At some point, some bit of something from the road had struck it just right to set it in place. Initially, it was just a short jagged line. Then it slowly meandered its way across the entire windshield.

It began high on the passenger side next to the pillar and gradually tended towards the dash for three inches; then it plunged downward until it was just an inch from the bottom. From there, it resumed its horizontal migration leftward, toward the driver’s side. Just past the midline of the car, the crack climbed again to about halfway up, leveled itself, then extended itself until it just touched the upper right corner of my state registration sticker. By some magic that I don’t understand, the sticker seems to have arrested the crack’s progression.

I don’t understand if the whole thing is safe as is. Will it eventually cross the entire piece of curved glass? If so, will the thing collapse then in two separate parts? There’s so much I don’t understand about the physics of glass!

When the crack had progressed far enough to where it was always in my sight-line as I drove, I grew concerned. I’ve gotten online on at least two occasions and searched for windshield repair places. I have completed the form, entering ‘2009 Toyota Matrix’ in the form boxes. Neither entry has, so far, elicited any response from either website.

The state registration has technically expired. I’ve renewed, of course, but I fear removing the sticker because I think the crack will quickly finish its journey across my windshield. It’s 90% of the way there already. In my mind’s eye, I see myself removing it (the registration decal), then with some cartoonish sound effect, it will suddenly continue cracking until it reaches the driver’s side pillar.

The most annoying thing, by far, about the crack is the sunlight.

When the geometry is right, when the sun hits it at the right angle, the crack diffracts, bends, and magnifies the sunlight. I fear that whatever is happening within the microscopic canyon between the two walls of glass where the break divides it – is making the light super-harmful to my eyes. When it’s overly annoying, I put on my sunglasses to help reduce the intensity. Or if I’ve forgotten my glasses at home, I will hold a hand awkwardly up before my face to prevent the harmful light rays from reaching my precious eyes. This is obviously a tiring solution, and I never keep my hand up for more than a minute.

My mind is funny. The intense light that is captive within the crack isn’t, to my mind, a little bright; it’s the same light as that from a solar eclipse, the kind scientists warn you about looking at directly. I imagine the individual photons of light stumbling into the tiny space between the two edges, like a bullet ricocheting endlessly between two rock walls in a ravine. Trapped in the gap, bouncing back and forth, diffracting, and god knows what else until it has distilled into something quite potent and harmful. To my catastrophic mind, when I notice the light – I am positive it is slowly blinding me! The light isn’t just bright; it’s filled with electromagnetic spears that are actively frying my retina, optic nerve and possibly even damaging my brain. Though how it might do the latter is unclear to the anxious worrywart in my brain.

The Buddha taught everything is impermanent, that all phenomena were ephemeral. Everything is a process that has antecedent causes, other processes, which also were caused by something. My windshield is a potent reminder of impermanence. Outwardly it looks solid (and transparent), but these are superficial time-bound observations. I will meditate on the impermanent nature of glass, my retinas, and the universe while I still can. The line in my windshield is like the trajectory of my life’s path. It had a causal instigator; it has progressed – sometimes in a straight line, sometimes in a crooked downturn or upturn, and it will end one day. I am impermanent. All things are.

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