-Lythande Desiré Tucker
There is a young girl who is about to witness, first hand, a traumatic accident.
She is ten years old, and it is the August before she will start the fourth grade. She is on her way home from Nebraska, where she has seen her grandparents for the first time in years. Her grandmother gave them the gift of a new car. It is not actually new, and is in fact probably as old as she is, but it is new to them and perhaps newer than any car her family has owned in her life. It even has power windows and air conditioning – she thinks this is very cool.
They are driving on a dusty county road with a number instead of a name. Her mother is driving their old car home, but she is riding with her brother in sister in the new car driven by her father. They are very close to home now, probably within twenty miles of it, and she is looking forward to being back in her small bedroom which she for once does not have to share with either of her siblings and exploring the boxes of books which are stored against one of her walls. She is oblivious to the immediate future.
In a moment, the front left tire of the car catches a soft spot in the road, partially obscured by the dust thrown up by the car ahead of them, and jerks. She does not realize what is happening – it happens very quickly. Her father tries to pull the car back under control, and instead they are quickly heading for the ditch, and a fence, beyond which is a field. There is a telephone pole directly ahead of them, and her father says "Oh, shit".
This is the last thing she will remember.
Her father manages to pull them away from the telephone pole, but they break through the fence. The car begins to roll, tumbling from the drivers side front to the passenger side rear, where she it sitting. The windows break, and the glass gives her several severe cuts up the length of her arm and minor ones on her face. Her sister will suffer a large scar on her knee from a collision with the door, and her brother, who is seated in the middle, will escape almost unscathed. Everyone is wearing their seat belts, and no one is thrown or seriously injured, though her father will suffer a back injury in addition to his lacerations and concussion.
The car flips three times. She screams and becomes very tense, and everything is a very confusing blur of sky and ground and loud noise.
The car comes to rest on its wheels, and her father pulls them all from the wreck that it has become, making sure that they are all more or less okay. She is crying, but she is also very much in shock. They wait together for the authorities. Later her father will be given a ticket for reckless driving, which he will always say is bullshit, and he is probably right.
The first thing she will remember later is being seated in the front seat of a very dirty police car who has responded. She will think she remembers store brand bread bags on the floorboard, but that is only her mind overlaying familiar trash onto the fast food wrappers that are actually there. She will think that she must have been bleeding, but she does not remember any blood.
The next thing she will remember is being in an ambulance, or a hospital. There is an IV in her hand, and she is tired and unfocused. She will remember thinking, in the dreamlike fugue state she is in, that she can't fall asleep, because if you fall asleep in a hospital you die. Her mind is in fact confused about the idea of a concussion, and in fact she has a concussion, but the thought makes sense at the time and makes her panic. She will always remember that thought and will secretly think that perhaps the thought saved her life, even though it is nonsense.
She will survive. The scar on her face fades to almost invisibility, and most of the time she will forget that she has the scars on her arm. Mentally, the only lasting effect she perceives is a heightened sense of mortality and perhaps an aversion to the thought of driving.
However, she will always wonder what she doesn't remember, and why.