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Past Memories: Red
I ran out of the room, keys jingling between my fingers and tears threatening to spill out of my eyes. The sound of footsteps followed close behind me but I ignored them. My hand found the handle and I threw open the wood paneled front door and tore down the walkway, stumbling over a forgotten skateboard. I kicked it out of the way angrily, my toe screaming up at me from the pain. I ignored it and continued on the path to my baby blue Volkswagen bug. I was almost there when I felt a hand grasp my shoulder. I whipped my head around and slapped it off.
“Stop. Let me be.” I said firmly, “You made your decision. Live with it.”
“But…” I put my hand over the protesting mouth.
“No. Good-bye Clark.”
I raced the few steps left to my car and yanked open the door almost breaking the handle in the process; I had forgotten to unlock it. I waited for the familiar click of the locks freeing themselves from their hold and then climbed into the car, jamming the keys into the ignition, thrusting the car into drive in a mere flurry of haste. The car groaned as I pressed my foot onto the pedal and sped out of the driveway, jumping the curb slightly as it rode by. My car and I raced down the street, gaining speed as I went. We flew around the curves and finally I let the tears come and they didn’t stop. I remembered back to my drivers training, how they strictly enforced not driving when dealing with emotional stress. But how was I supposed to get away and back to my home? I couldn’t have stayed there any longer.
I screeched to a halt at the stop sign that led to the main street. Exiting the neighborhood, I pulled into traffic barely looking left or right. I went into the closest lane and halted, the light was all the way backed up. I took my eyes off the road and wiped them dry with my hands, immediately smearing my makeup. All of a sudden I heard a car horn honk behind me and I looked up, registering the cars moving in front of me. I sped up, barely making the light and made my way onto the main street to my house. As if hearing what I was going through, the sky opened up and started raining. It steadily started to get heavier. All the cars around me began to slow down to avoid hydroplaning on the slippery roads. But all I wanted was to get home, so I sped up and weaved my way through cars, making record time. The rain was really coming down heavy now and I had to turn my windshield wipers up to their highest speed.
It didn’t help that my eyes were blurred over by my tears and that I couldn’t concentrate because all I could picture was how happy I was walking into the house, letting myself in as I always had, making my way down the familiar hallway as I glanced at the pictures on the wall, smiling to myself because of how cute they were and how much they made me feel at home. Then the feeling I felt as I walked into the last room on the right, the dread and the anger…
No. It was done. It was over. All I wanted to do was get home; my head was starting to hurt. A screech beside me brought me back to reality and I focused my attention back onto the road. But I soon lost focus again, snapping myself back to driving I began to search through the rain. Where were the lane lines? How close was I to the car next to me? More importantly where was that car?
Suddenly I placed it, its’ headlights were coming right at. I had a fleeting moment of recognition and then I heard only the sound of the impact of the foreign car hitting my brand new car and the distant sound of my scream. All I could see were misplaced lights and darkness. I tried to fight my way back but the darkness closed in on the lights and I couldn’t fight any more. The dull pain radiating in my body began to fade, and then there was nothing.
“Sixteen year old female, car accident, possible broken leg and arm, fractured skull and spine.” A male voice said.
I looked up and could barely make out a group of people wheeling me down a hallway. The one directly above me had beautiful eyes and was really cute, I tried to smile but I couldn’t. Then darkness closed in.
“…She’s lost a lot of blood...”
I saw a white room and red, lots of red. Then, again came the darkness.
“Anna, can you hear me?” A female voice asked, her voice moved into a different direction, “She’s been in and out for awhile. She has yet to respond though.”
“What does that mean?” I heard my mom’s voice ask.
“I could mean many things, but we’re pretty sure she’ll wake up soon. Her injuries weren’t as bad as we thought, and there was very little brain damage thankfully. That doesn’t mean she isn’t in for a big shock…”
I drifted off to sleep again, but it was more of a pleasant sleep than before.
I opened me eyes and felt them stick a little with sleep. I pulled them open and looked up. Above me was a simple white paneled roof. I tried to lift my neck up but it seemed extremely heavy. I then tried to lift my left arm but it also seemed really heavy, I tried to wiggle my fingers and they responded but my arm wouldn’t budge. I tried my right arm and it moved more readily. It allowed me to reach up and feel my neck. My hand met a hard plaster like object around my neck. I panicked and shot up in my “bed”. The pain I felt was excruciating and I groaned and leaned back into the soft surface.
“Anna?” I heard my mom’s voice again. Then her face appeared over me. “Annalise! Nurse!” She called running away again.
Soon a nurse ran into the room and came over to me. She started checking the machines next to me and asking me questions about how I felt and what hurt and on and on.
“Can you move your arm Anna?” She asked.
“I can move my right one but my left arm feels really heavy.”
“Can you wiggle your fingers?”
“Good.” She continued to write on her clipboard and give nothing away. What was wrong with my arm? Why was everything so heavy and why did it all hurt?
I couldn’t take it anymore so I asked.
“What’s wrong with me? Where am I?”
“Anna, do you remember what happened?” I saw the nurse’s face above me; concern was written deep in the wrinkles of her forehead.
“I’ll give you a hint,” She said, “Let’s see what you remember.”
“What comes to your mind when I say car accident?”
I thought for a while and nothing came.
“Okay.” She said patiently. “What about a red Volvo station wagon?”
All of a sudden the image of a car’s headlights flooded my mind and I winced in pain and my body responded.
I opened my eyes to the nurse writing something down on her clipboard.
“Anna, do you remember driving in your car in the pouring rain? You were speeding way above the speed limit and ran right through a red light. A red Volvo station wagon was crossing the intersection and ran into you. You were going so fast that it didn’t have time to respond and slam on its’ brakes. You were then hit by the car and you two sped into another…”
“Stop!” I screamed my head was pounding and the headlights were repeatedly rushing at me as if on repeat. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to block out the image.
The nurse continued to scribble on her clipboard.
“Okay. I’m going to go now. I’ll come back in a couple of hours. I’ll give you two some time.” She finished as she quietly exited the room.
“Mom?” I asked, finally opening my eyes. “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I move my arm?” I whispered, afraid to know the answer.
My mom came over to me and lifted my hospital bed, so I could see her better.
“Annalise, sweetie, your accident was bad…”
“Mom, just tell me. I’m going to find out sometime. It might as well be now.”
“I think you need to get a little more rest.”
“Fine, fine. Anna,” She sat down on the edge of the bed and held my right hand in hers, squeezing it as if for support. I don’t know if this support was for her or for me, or maybe for both of us.
“When you got hit the car smashed right into your side of the car and hit you on your left side. They aren’t sure yet but they think you will be partially paralyzed on that whole side. As of right now, you will be able to feel but your arm and leg won’t work as well as they normally would. The rest of you is fine. You have a couple fractured bones, but that is it. Your body is extremely tired and in shock right now. That’s why everything hurts as much as it does. You were actually pretty lucky. I know it may not seem like it right now. But you’re alive, and that’s what’s important. Now, I’m going to grab something to eat because I haven’t left the room in 24 hours and I’m starving. Will you be okay?”
I just stared in shock. Paralyzed? How could I be… paralyzed?
“Huh?” I replied.
“Will you be okay?”
“Oh yeah. Go ahead.”
“It’ll be okay, hunny.” She kissed me on the forehead and then stood up crossing the short space between my bed and the door, shutting it quietly after her, leaving me to drown in the information she had just thrown at me.
Paralyzed. The word rang in my head, partially or not; it was still the same idea. My life will never be the same. What about my soccer team? My cheerleading?
How will I walk?
I was in too much shock to even register enough to cry, but I knew it would come sometime and wouldn’t stop. Paralyzed. It was all I could think, all I could do. There was nothing but that one word. Paralyzed.
Hackettstown, New Jersey
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To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”