I lifted my head off the floor of the car. I could not remember how I ended up laying on the floor in the back seat. My head was buzzing and my ears were muffled. No. My head was muffled and my ears were buzzing. I could hear crying and yelling. I smelled steaming antifreeze. I looked out the backseat window and saw my brother John limping around a driveway. He was holding his elbow. Whose driveway was that?(1.) Where were we?
I followed the sound of the crying. My sister was sitting on the curb. There was a crowd of people around her. She was leaning over, her head between her knees. She was spitting blood. She was spitting out teeth. Oh right. My sister was taking me, John and Bob out for ice cream. She wanted to drive by some guy’s house first. We made a u-turn, were in a car accident. Wait. Bob was with us. Where is Bob? I don’t see him. Did he die? (2.) He must have died if I can’t see him. If Bob is dead we are going to get grounded.
I lifted my head off the dark blue vinyl seats of the car. I could not remember how I ended up laying down in the back seat of a police car. I reached my hand up to my forehead to see if I could discover the source of the pain I was feeling. I felt bits of broken glass littering my hair. An officer asked me to look into his flashlight. I did. There was no light. He smacked the side of the flashlight, still no light. He borrowed another officer’s flashlight. That also did not work. They both needed batteries. One of the officers took out a first aid kit. He blew dust off the top, cleared cobwebs away from the latches. As he fumbled to open it I looked out the window through the metal cage separating the front and back seats. I saw the car we were in smashed against a telephone pole. I still could not see Bob. I could still see John and I could still see my sister. There was a hole in her chin. (3.) She was still spitting blood and teeth. A paramedic was with her. The officer told me not to look at her. I wonder if they are arresting me. If they do I am going to get grounded. The flashing red lights of the approaching ambulance blinded me. I closed my eyes.
I lifted my head off the tan vinyl bench-seat in the back of the ambulance. I could not move my arms or legs. They were encased in inflatable casts. My sister was laying down in the gurney with bloody towels covering her face. Where was John, in another ambulance? Maybe. The medic asked me questions about my sister since she could not speak. What was her name? Sharon. How old was she? 17. What was her date of birth? I don’t know. You don’t know your sisters birthday? No. Why not? I just don’t. How old are you? 12. When is your date of birth? March 9th. March 9th of what year? Not mine, hers. Her birthday is March 9th. Of what year? I don’t know. She is 17. Do the math. Try to stay awake you may have a concussion? I want to take a nap now. We think you may be in shock. Please don’t shock me.
I opened my eyes when the cold wind hit me in the face. They were wheeling me into the hospital. I could taste blood in my mouth. My mom stood out front of the ER doors. She was crying but smiling. How did she beat us to the hospital? Why was she crying? (4.) I think we may be in trouble. I hope we don’t get grounded. I tell the doctor my chest hurts and he tries to unzip my Oakland Raiders sweatshirt but the zipper is broken. He cuts my favorite sweatshirt off with a large pair of scissors. I am definitely going to get grounded. (5.) Using a pair of tweezers a nurse picks specks of glass out of my scalp. She washes my hair and I watch white suds turned pink by blood wash down the drain. I start to cry. She tells me everyone is okay.
That night my mom wakes me every two hours, per the doctor’s instructions, to ask me questions to test my mental state. Some questions are easy like my name and birthday. Some questions are more difficult. What is your grandmother’s first name? I don’t know. I don’t call her by her first name. What is the phone number of 125 Primrose? It takes me a minute but I get it. My mom then asks me to tell her how old she is. I am so going to get grounded.
(1.) John was sitting in the front passenger seat. His elbow went through the glove box. He had to tear it out of the dash board to get out of the car to go get help. He knocked on the door of the first house he came to. “We need help!” he said to old man who answered the door. The old man replied, “I am sorry I cannot help you. I am blind.” John went to the next house for help. John ended up with 60 plus stitches in his elbow.
(2.) Bob was sitting in the back passenger side. He saw we were about to crash and braced for impact. He sprained both his ankles and I think he had stress fractures in both shins. When he got out of the car with John, he could not walk and fell to the ground. He was lying below my line of vision.
(3.) My sister’s chin hit the steering wheel, her head hit the windshield. She opened her face from below her lip all the way through to her tongue. I think she lost all of her bottom teeth. She had to have numerous operations and plastic surgery.
(4.) We only lived a mile from the ER. Someone called my mom to tell her we were on the way. She beat us there and waited by the entrance for the ambulances to arrive. When they pulled Bob out of the ambulance on the gurney the wind caught the blanket that was on top of Bob and it blew up and covered his face. My mom only saw them wheeling in a covered body and thought that Bob was dead. She started to cry. Bob then said hello from under the blanket. I was wheeled in right after that.
(5.) I was sitting in the back driver side. When we made impact my chest smashed into the back of her seat and I flew over my sister’s head I hit the windshield. I had bruised ribs, minors cuts in my mouth and on my head and I had a concussion. The car accident happened 28 years ago this week.