September 2011

A Thing that Happened

I saw a car crash. It was graceful, strangely. The car went northwest in a diagonal line and met the guardrail. It missed everything else. There wasn’t even a noise. Although that can’t be possible. I stood in the breakdown lane. There was no one in the car. I started yelling How can she not be there? and ran across the highway. I looked for her on the road and under the rail. It started snowing in a tiny way. Only when I got to her window did I see her. Jammed into the floor starting with her face. Her hair had blood. Her legs were caught behind the stick shift at the calves. Knees pointed in the wrong direction. It seemed false. She is dead I yelled she’s dead. Because these are the kinds of things that happen when there is a car crash. Another person ran across the highway. We have to get her out I told him but the doors were locked. We tried to break the windows. He threw his big shoulders against the windows. I found a hole in the windshield. In the corner of it. Plucking away at the hole we got our arms in to unlock the door. She started crying then screaming. It was not a texture I had heard ever. Probably she had never heard it either. So she was not dead but in all ways she was wildly muffled. She tried to pull her torso up but had no bottom strength. I saw her face then. Her teeth were in her cheeks. She screamed for her legs. But her sound came out through tooth chips and blood suds. Should we move her legs or not I asked the man. She begged for her legs then wailed from saliva and blood when the man dislodged them. We told her not to move any more but she had strange might. She pressed her back against the passenger seat. There were holes in her scalp that held blood and bits. Tangles. I found her pulse and it was fast. At her vein she was so oddly warm. Again and again she wanted to sleep. Where is the ambulance where I said to the man who shrugged. To her I said Don’t sleep don’t sleep tell me what is your name. What is your name I yelled as she seemed disconnected from all external. She looked in my eyes and had blood in her lashes. She looked in my eyes and they were filled with pupils. Stephanie she gurgled. Stephanie I said don’t go to sleep. I promise you will be okay. Still Stephanie tried to sleep. There was a car seat thrown across the back but no baby. I scanned for a baby. I asked Stephanie if there was a baby and Stephanie gurgled no. Stephanie cried and screamed her teeth away. I yelled at other cars to keep going nothing to see here. The ambulance came I think hours later but it had to have been just minutes. I ran back across the highway. There was bigger snow now and wind. It was December. These are just the kinds of things that happen when there is a crash. That night I called the hospital. They knew nothing. Or maybe just weren’t saying. Same with the police I called. For a long time I looked through all the newspapers slowly. For a long time I dreamt of gurgles and of teeth dislodged, and of Stephanie. Of legs on the wrong side of a stick. Of wrong eyelashes in my mouth.

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