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Author's note: My inspiration hit me one afternoon during the summer when my mom was driving my brother and I home after church. We were in a borrowed old, clunky truck and I had the sudden, vivid thought of what would happen were we to crash. When I got home I had to type it out... and everything expanded from there.
We are heading home from a friend’s house on Wednesday night. Our old truck is roaring happily along. My brother and I are playing around talking about math. I’m trying to tell him about Multiplying but with him only being five he doesn’t understand. I try not to show that I’m upset that he won’t pay attention and my mom’s telling me to stop because I’m confusing him. I sigh and not for the first time I wish the old truck had a radio, but of course it doesn’t. Finally my Mom, who has a major headache, decides that we could play a game. “Hey, how about we play the silent game?” Evan looks at me and smiles. “We start…NOW!” He clamps his hands over his mouth in an attempt to stay quiet, but with my being nearly sixteen I know how to be silent. I let my eyes droop till they are almost shut. It helps my mind wonder more freely, I thought of a book I was reading, what we had talked about at dinner and my friend’s boy troubles. I open my eyes and look at my mom; she rubs her eyes then her forehead. I go to talk but Evan looks at me with a huge smile knowing that if I talk he wins. I can’t let that happen, I may be almost eleven years older than him but I’m a sore loser. I glare at him and turn my head back to the front.
Suddenly I see a red blur run out of the woods on the side of the road that heads towards the road in front of us. I figure my mom will slow down, it’s far enough away. Only, my mom doesn’t. My next thought was that she knew what she was doing. But when she never even starts to slow down and I can make out more detail about the 4-wheeler in front of us, I know something’s wrong. I scream and fling myself towards Evan to shield him as we hit the 4-wheeler and everything goes wrong.
My vision slowly comes back; my head hurts as well as the rest of me. I look at Evan still in his booster seat. He has a bloody nose and is badly bruised and cut up from the spray of glass, my mom is next to him. She moans in pain and lifts a bloody hand to her forehead. Thought comes back to me slowly, like skittish fish coming to the water’s surface. It hit me what I was seeing. My mother and Brother, the only family I really had . . . bloody, hurt, and unable to move. I pull Evan out from the truck and lay him on the ground then I go for my mom but I can’t get her out. The people on the 4-wheeler are hurt but not badly. One of them is calling the police and the ambulance. I ran back over to Evan. “Evan, please talk to me. You win, I promise you win. Please just talk to me?!” My voice is shrill and I have to force myself not to shake him. “I win?” he asks, his voice strained and thick. What a tough little five-year old. “Yes Evan, you’ve won. Please, just please don’t leave me.” I beg, tears falling down my face. “I won’t.” He smiles then starts’ crying as the pain finally registers. I force myself to stand and leave him, it’s nearly impossible.
The two people, that had been on the 4-wheeler, see me coming towards them and stop talking in whispered voices. “Please, can you help me? I can’t get my mom out. Please help me?” My voice is barely a whisper; they share a glance before nodding. One –a dark haired, pale skinned, blue eyed boy- walks towards my truck, while the other – a light brown haired, dark brown eyed, and slightly tanned boy – looks me over. “You should sit down. You’re bleeding really badly.” He says softly. I shake my head and then regret it as everything tilts and I stumble to regain my balance. He catches me and gently sets me on the ground. “What hurts?” he asks. I laugh, it sounded wrong with everything around us.
“Everything, aren’t you hurt?” I ask, realizing we had hit them not the other way around. He smiles oddly.
“I’m ok, just a little stiff.” To prove this he stretched his arms out then lets them fall to his side. “Now, tell me. What hurts the most?” I frown and close my eyes, something I had always done when I was trying to find things out. I feel pain coming from every part of me, but in one place the pain is stronger. Like something stabbing deep into me while everything else is only skin deep. I open my eyes and look at my right arm and see it badly cut and bleeding. I gasp at the sight, I hate blood, it’s turning my white long sleeve scarlet red. I hear a groan but don’t look up. Hands lift my arm up and a knife comes into view.
Now I move.
Screeching I pull back, but the hand grips my arm tighter. “Stop it; I’m not going to cut you. Just stay still Dani.” It doesn’t even cross my mind to ask how he knew my name; all I did was look back at my arm. Slowly and carefully he slits my shirt sleeve open. Only then did we see the glass in the cut, embedded pretty deeply, shining from amid the blood. “Dang. That’s not pretty.” I hear him say. Just looking at the cut made it hurt worse. Instead I focus on his face. “What’s your name?” I ask to distract myself as he uses the tweezers in his knife to pull the glass out. “Marc and my friend getting your mom out of your truck is Andy.” He says slowly, trying not to hurt me even more. Up close I can see a bruise spreading across his chin, the dark bags under his eyes, and the razor thin scars across his right cheek. As he concentrates harder on finding the glass without hurting me too much, his brows furrow and his jaw tightens. “How old are you?” I ask curios. His lips curve into a small smile. “I’m 16.” I gasp as my arm throbs with pain.”Sorry,” he muttered.
“Did you call 911?” I ask, suddenly worried.
“Yes, I did.” He says, his voice telling of his worry and fear.
“How does my arm look?” I whisper. His eyes flick up and meet mine.
“The truth? Not good. There are a lot of little bits of glass embedded in the cut. I’m going to try to get the bigger pieces out then wrap it up.” I turn my head to look down at my arm but he catches my face before I could, pulling it around so I had to look at him again he says. “I wouldn’t. I’d rather you didn’t pass out on us too.” I give in and close my eyes, concentrating on the sounds around me; I hear the sounds of the animals in the woods around the road, the sound of my mother and brother’s breathing. In the distance I hear the sound of the ambulance. Opening my eyes I smile. “They’re coming.” I state simply thinking he could hear them.
“Who?” He asks, clearly confused.
“The ambulance, can’t you hear them?” I asked, completely confused.
“Uh, no. Are you sure it’s not your mind playing tricks on you or something?” I could tell Marc was trying to be nice when he said it but it still stung.
“Yes I’m sure. I’m not a mental chick.” I replied sharply. He shakes his head.
“We’ll see.” He whispers. Andy comes up to us, bends down and whispers something in Marc’s ear. His eyes become troubled as he looked back at me. He nods and finishes up the bandage on my arm. “They’ll be here soon. Andy and I have to go. See you around.” He stands and helps Andy right the 4-wheeler, finding it will not work they leave it and run across the road into the forest. Marc stops once to look over his shoulder at me; I see his mouth move slightly and barely hear the words ‘I’m sorry.’
I slowly get up and walk over to my mom and brother. Evan has calmed down but still lies where I left him. My mom is unconscious; I sit by her side cradling her head in my lap. Soon Evan could hear the Sirens from the ambulance, he smiled sleepily. “Is da ambulance gonna take us to da hospitul?” his asks. I smile, no longer able to cry from fear.
“Yeah, boo. We’re going to go to the hospital.”
When the ambulance arrived they loaded up my mom and brother then looked me over. “Your real lucky miss. It’s a miracle you didn’t hit your head like your mom. You can sit by her.” I climb into the ambulance sitting next to my mom, holding her hand.
Once at the hospital they take my mom and brother away to fix them up while they take me to get the glass out and stitch up the cut. “You’re very lucky.” The Doctor says as he picks the glass out.
“So I’m told.” I mutter.
“If you don’t mind my asking, how did you get so much of the glass out of you? If it hadn’t been for that, then binding your arm…you could have bled to death before they had reached you.” The doctor stated, the realization of the statement made me think back to Marc and Andy and how they had fled when they learned of the Ambulance. Maybe they didn’t want to be known about?
“The people on the 4-wheeler helped me then left to find help…then you all showed up.” I would have shrugged but he was digging in my arm with tweezers and I didn’t want it to hurt more than it already did.
“Other people? Hum. Well, good thing they were there.” The doctor murmurs.
Once I’m all fixed up I ask if I can go see my mom and brother. I’m told that only my brother is able to be seen. I ask why I can’t visit my mom but they won’t tell me. This is why I hate hospitals. They ignore you if you’re not sick. Finally I get someone to tell me where my brother is, when I get to his room I find him asleep. Curling up next to him I sigh, letting out everything thing that had happened in such a short amount of time. Sleep took me before I knew what had happened.
* * * *
Something had changed, something in the room. Opening my eyes and rubbing the sleep out of them reminded me of how sore I was, I groaned as I stretched. “You all right?” I jump at the voice. Looking around I see Marc.
“What’re you doing here?” I blurt out, not bothering to think that he had saved my life yesterday and that I should be grateful. He smiled, clearly amused, in one of the seats by the bed. “I felt bad about leaving you all like that yesterday. How’s your arm?” His gaze moves down the bandage around my cut arm.
“It’s much better. You know, the doctor said that if it were not for you I might have died.” I sit up gently running my fingers through Evan’s hair. “You saved my life.” It felt odd to say but it was true. He watched me closely, as if trying to see if what I was saying was the truth. I look up at him. “Thank you.”
“I would have to be a cold hearted…monster not to help you. It was our fault the crash happened in the first place.”
“It wasn’t your fault, I saw you…both of you but didn’t say anything because Evan and I were playing a game” My voice cracked oddly, he handed me a glass of water. “Thanks” I muttered slowly drinking the water.
“Do you mind if I look at your cut?” he asked slowly, not sure if that was a really odd request. I eyed him for a moment before I nod.
“Knock yourself out.” I turn so that he can get at it better.
He gently lifted my arm, his hands hot against my hospital frozen sink. Slowly he took the bandage off to expose the stitched up cut. I was shocked by how it looked, almost like I had had the stitches for a week or so. “I always knew I was a fast healer…but that’s crazy.” I muttered. Marc gently ran a finger underneath the line of stitches.
“You’ll be fully healed in a few days.” He rebound my arm and sat back down.
“How long have you been here?” I asked, feeling bad if he had been waiting for me to wake.
“Only about…five minutes or so before you woke. You looked like you could use the sleep so I didn’t wake you up.” He shrugged.
I nod, finally I ask. “Why did you and Andy run away like that?”
Marc looked uncomfortable. “We...Uh...we weren’t hurt and that would have raised some questions.” He looked away tilting his head to the side like he was listening to something. Marc grimaced and sighed. “I’ve got to go.” He stands and for the first time looks at my little brother. “You two have different father’s, don’t you?” I look down at Evan and smile.
“Yeah, though I like to think we don’t look that much different.” Evan sighs in his sleep.
“In some ways you look alike. But different enough that you can tell you either have different mothers or fathers” Marc says.
“I never knew my father, he only knew his for a little while before he died.” My voice gives way to the exhaustion I feel and I rub my heavy eye lids.
“You should sleep. It’ll help you heal faster.” He looked between me and the door.
“Faster than I already am?” I asked amused.
“Yes, much, much faster.” He says smiling. “I…I’ll see you around.” With that he turned and left.
I curled around Evan and fell asleep again.
It’s two day after the crash, Evan is ok. He’s being watched by the doctors to make sure nothing is wrong. I have to stay with him because I have no family aside from an unknown father and his sister that I’ve never met. I’ve been told that my mom has a bad concussion. It doesn’t look good for her, I want to cry but I have to be strong for Evan. I’m all he has. It’s odd after I woke up I asked a nurse that came to check up on Evan if anyone had visited, she said no one had come to see us…no one had seen Marc when he had come. Maybe I dreamt it, though it seemed real. I don’t know, nothing seems very real right now.
“Dani, where’s momma?” Evan asks, bringing me out of my sad thoughts. I haven’t told him that he might never see her again. Or at least not awake.
“I’m not sure boo. We’ll just have to wait. Kay?” He sighs grumpily.
“Fine.” He grumbles. I can’t help but smile.
“Hey, boo? I’ll be back in a bit. I’m going to go get a snack.” His little head snaps up so quickly I fear it might pop off.
“Can I have cookies?” Evan smiles sweetly and bats his big brown eyes I’ve always been jealous of.
“Yeah boo. I’ll bring you up some.” Laughing I leave the room. He’s content for the mean time to sit and watch cartoons.
I take the elevator down one floor and head to the vending machine. Grudgingly I take out the money and buy a pack of cookies and a thing of crackers. “I am going to go crazy. I feel like I have aged ten years in three days. Dani Lune you have really lost it.” I mutter to myself and shake my head. Walking by the information desk I hear a lady with short black hair, tan skin, light hazel eyes, wearing jeans and a plain green tee-shirt ask about ‘Dani and Evan’ I stop in my tracks.
“Why are you asking about my brother and me?” Fear grips me, What if this lady is here to take my brother and me away till or if my mother ever gets better? I wouldn’t let that happen.
“Dani? Oh my goodness. You look so much like him” She shakes her head, her short hair whipping around.
“I look like who?” I ask, completely confused. “And who are you?”
“Oh, my. I’m sorry. This is odd. Hello Dani. I am Erika Lune, your father’s younger sister.” She extends her hand towards me and I shake it. I look closely at her face and see the same thin scares I had seen on Marc’s face only less visible because of the makeup she wore.
“So, you’re my aunt?” I ask, slightly dazed at meeting someone else in my family besides my mother and my brothers relatives. “Yes, I am your aunt, and I would like to take both you and your brother to my house till your mother gets better.” She didn’t add ‘if she does’ but it was implied.
“You’re willing to take care of us if my mother dies?” Some of the color drained from her face at the bluntness of this question.
“Let us hope she doesn’t,” was all she said. “I hope you will come, but I am taking your brother. A place like this is not the best for a five year old… nor a fifteen year old.” I go to say something but she holds up a hand to stop me. “Before you say no let me assure you that you can visit your mother whenever you want, during visitor hours.” I hesitate then nod. “Good!” she claps her hands together. “Now, let us go meet your brother, shall we?”
I open the door to Evan’s room holding the pack of Cookies in front of my face an arm’s length away. He giggles happily as I hand him the cookies, then he sees her…our aunt. He frowns and looks between Aunt Erika and me then says. “She looks like you,” Pointing from Aunt Erika to me.
“No she doesn’t!” I exclaim, but he just nods and smiles.
“Is she my sister too?”
Aunt Erika laughs pleasantly. “No Evan, but I am your aunt. I am Dani’s Dad’s Sister.” She adds the last part to help Evan because he frowned in confusion at the term.
“Oh!” His face clears then he remembers the cookies sitting in his lap and attacks them with a happiness only a five year old can manage.
“Evan, would you want to come spend the night with me for a little while? I have chickens you can play with, and some bunnies, and a cat. Would you like that?” Aunt Erika asks slowly in a childish voice. I realized that, though she maybe my aunt, I had no idea if I could trust her. I had never met her before and I couldn’t judge her by how my father was because I hadn’t known him…what if she turned out to be an awful witch? Well, if nothing else I could always take Evan back here and stay in Mom’s room. Maybe. I wonder where she lives. It can’t be in town with those animals. Maybe on the out skirts, I had a few friends that lived out there. My Mom never wanted us to live near the forests. She never said why but she didn’t like the forest.
“Where do you live?” I finally ask, interrupting Aunt Erika as she told Evan about all the fun he could have.
“Oh, I live on the out skirts of town.” She says turning to me, something odd glinted in her eyes. Something slightly wild and untamed then it was gone just as quickly as it was first there, leaving me to wonder if I had even seen anything.
“Near the woods?” I ask, slightly apprehensive.
Aunt Erika just smiles and says. “Nothing will hurt, you.” Something in the way she said it made me feel odd but I let it go.
“Will you drive us by our apartment so Evan and I can pick up our things?” I ask with a sigh.
“Of course, Hun. You cannot go around wearing nothing.” She laughs making her look younger than she already looked. “So, are we ready to go?” She asked. Evan nodded but I leaned forward and whispered something in her ear. Solemnly she nods, takes his hand and says. “Come on; let’s go get you checked out of this place. Your sissy will join us soon.” Evan nods and starts talking animatedly to her.
Raleigh, North Carolina
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