The park was busy, filled with children and parents eager to be out of the house after a long grey winter, tourists with cameras taking pictures of the dogwoods, joggers, Frisbee players, bird feeders, homeless people with carts and signs and paper bags, dog walkers and their various canine charges, birds swooping and chirping, cars and buses pulsing around the perimeter. The sun shone down on it all, all this life and green in the middle of the city.

It was a lousy place to say goodbye. Too pretty, too public.

My head felt like a hammer was pounding from the inside, insistent, merciless pressure. Stunned and angry, and pushing down a fear that felt like a rising flood, I called to my daughter, who was playing on the climbing gym with another kindergarten friend. I called her once, irritated, twice with a rising ugly tone that got her attention. She dragged and whined while I grabbed her hand too tightly and tugged her to the car, which was parallel parked on the east side of the park. I didn’t hear what she said, just the rushing sound of the cars swooshing by and a replay of words, broken from context, that rattled and mocked me from inside my head. I snapped her seatbelt into place, shut her door with more force than was needed, then slammed my body into the driver’s seat and jammed the keys in the ignition, roaring the engine to life. I jerked the car into the road, kept to the right to get on the wide boulevard that ran the length of the north side of the park. I usually avoided the boulevard, because it was always so busy. I don’t like to drive.

The merge came up, right turn on red was clear. I turned my head over my left shoulder. There was a black Yukon barreling up, but I decided to go anyway. I didn’t feel like stopping and waiting for some endless line of traffic to pass, and it felt good to put the accelerator to the floor and feel the power of the engine push me back into my seat. It felt like everything inside me, the grief and the fury, spewed out in squealing tires and exhaust.

For those seconds, I never looked forward, kept my head turned back with an eye on the Yukon to see if he was going to get too close to my tail, as I heard the engine whine and wind, the turbo kicking in. I never looked forward until I heard the sound of a heavy fast thump on my front bumper, an odd sick sound, over as fast as it happened. I glanced at my speedometer. 50 MPH. I knew. I knew right then, braked and slowed the car, and pulled to the right, and stopped.

“Mama,” my daughter spoke, plain and matter-of-fact as if she were telling me what time it was, “You hit a man.”

I sat there as I began to understand, a heavy horrible black cloud settling in. I knew he would be dead. It was my fault. The police would be here soon, an ambulance, TV trucks, gawkers from the park, horns honking on the backed up boulevard, and I would be taken to jail.

My daughter calmly ate her snack in the back of the car, and began to sing the Alphabet Song to herself.

Easy dream to analyze, no?