Recklessly Mistaken

Talya O

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A child is rocked back and forth as the vehicle soars through the air. Her head smashes the window she strapped in next to. Blood pours from the wound into her eyes and down her tear-stained cheeks. She can’t see. Her neck is rubbed raw from the seatbelt and she can barely breath. Her ears are ringing from the screams filling the atmosphere of the small car. Daddy went quiet quickly, and she doesn’t want to imagine why. Mommy is screaming, her roars interrupted only when her head hits the front dash or window at her side. The little girl finds her vision going dark, black dots floating in her vision. It all happened so fast. One minute, mommy was looking for a good song and daddy was swerving the car to the beat of each one that came on. The girl had told him to stop when she saw the big truck coming, but he didn’t pay attention. “Calm down, Ash,” he’d said. “It’s just a little fun.” Then the truck had seen them, and hadn’t had time to slow down. It’d tried to swerve, but it was too late. They were flying. Rolling through the air like a football spiralling into the awaiting arms of a linebacker. Only, this ball wouldn’t get caught. On impact, the roof of the car caved in with a loud wrenching of metal as it struck the ground. All went still and quiet. Mommy was silent now and the Ash couldn’t hear any breathing but her own ragged intakes of smokey air. Her stomach hurt from where the seat belt held her up, and her neck was bleeding. She tasted salty blood on her lips. With a final whimper, she allowed the darkness to swarm in and provide a welcomed relief from the agony and terror. That was 9 years ago. At 19, Ash now carries remnants of that fatal wreck with her everywhere she goes. Her parents hadn’t survived, but she couldn’t find it in herself to mind much – she couldn’t remember them anyway. Just their names, and that was only because she’d been told. She hadn’t even remembered her own name when she’d woken up in the hospital, woozy and alone. Her amnesia was a tough case, she’d been told. She’d struggle with short-term memory loss for the rest of her life, as well as cronic migraines. Her anxiety around cars had never lessened and she preferred either walking or driving herself. With years in and out of foster homes and living with different family members, her depression and insecurities grew and she could never be sure of herself, ‘nor others. Why had she lived? Why did she have to suffer with the ramifications of reckless driving? Of the mistakes that officers told her weren’t her fault? What did she do at the innocent age of 10 years old to deserve this life? A life where she had no real parents to guide her through adulthood and to provide wisdom when she needed it? She shook her head as she cautiously crossed the street. Apparently, the driver she was passing wasn’t paying attention as they texted on their phone. With no cars in sight, they sped forward and once again, Ash was soaring through the air. She fell to the ground in a crumpled heap and with a last breath, she let the darkness overwhelm her again so that she may be involuntarily reunited with her parents.