by Katherine L. Michaels
I woke up, crying as I felt the pain from my cruelly twisted leg. I couldn’t understand why it hurt so much, or why my mother would let whatever was hurting me keep doing it. I whimpered several times over the next few minutes, at first softly, then gradually with more volume as the first experimental noises vouchsafed no response.
I lay still as I tried to figure out what to do. This was a situation that I’d never been in. Mama had never allowed anything to hurt me before. Why would she stop protecting me now? I hadn’t done anything bad lately, unless you could count me ruining her dinner party. I really hadn’t meant to throw up on that woman!
I was scared when she picked me up so fast and hugged me so tight. I didn’t even know her! Mama couldn’t be mad about that. After everyone had left, she’d said that it was okay; she didn’t really like Aunt Mildred that much, anyway. Then she’d kissed me and sent me to bed.
Since Mama didn’t answer me, I finally decided that I would have to get out of this on my own. But how? Pulling my leg loose wasn’t an option. The first time I tried that, the pain shooting up my leg almost made me pass out. I couldn’t even twist to get at it. My booster seat was all folded around me. It didn’t hurt and I could breathe alright, but I was as securely pinned down as if I was wrapped in one of my old baby blankets.
Time passed. I’m not sure how long I struggled, but it felt like forever. I was so tired I couldn’t even cry anymore; it took too much energy. All I could do was rest and wish that Mama would come get me.
Suddenly, I heard sirens coming close. Sirens had always scared me before, with their earsplitting wails, but now I welcomed them. It meant a policeman was coming. Policemen helped you; like the time Mama got a flat tire. The policeman stayed with her until the tow truck driver came to fix it, so she wouldn’t be hurt by anyone. Maybe the policeman would find Mama, so she could rescue me.
After the sirens (more than one policeman?) had stopped, I tried to get their attention, but they made so much clattering and crashing noise and my throat was so dry that no one heard me. I was soooo tired now. Maybe I should just go to sleep; Mama will be there when I wake up.
* * *
Charlene pulled herself out of the pit of darkness to a world modeled out of a madman’s vision of Hell. The last thing she remembered was staring out of the windshield at the headlights crossing the line and coming straight for her. She hadn’t had time to wrench the steering wheel before they were upon her. Not even time to scream.
She felt pain across her whole body as calloused hands reached in through her broken window and touched her. She felt a rough-weave blanket thrown against her skin and then heard a deep voice telling her to “Relax and don’t move, Ma’am. We have to use the Jaws to get in to you; the car door is crushed and won’t open. Just stay still and we’ll have you out of there in no time.”
Charlene complied, even though the mechanism jolted her terribly, increasing the pain in her back from a dull red to bright white sharpness. She kept hold of consciousness by a thin thread long enough for the Rescue Crew to break the door away, truss her up like a Thanksgiving turkey and get her to the ambulance.
Once there she almost surrendered to the relief of safety, but as she felt herself sinking back down into that dark pit, she found the strength to croak, “My baby. Did you get my baby?”
The crew had been pulling back from the twisted hulk that had once been a sedan. No one else at the scene was alive; the teenage driver of the old Mustang had already surrendered his life to the alcohol he’d consumed and his disdain for a seat belt. At the injured woman’s words, the crew leapt back into action, desperate to save the unknown child.
* * *
I woke up, feeling the pain in my leg again as strong hands lifted me from the ruins of Mama’s back seat. I tried to scream again, but only a rasping croaky sound came out. The hands cradled me, supporting my hurt leg and I felt myself moving through the air, borne away by an unknown man. He carried me over to where Mama lay on a strange wheeled bed. I felt his voice rumbling from where my head lay against his chest as he spoke to her in a frustrated tone.
“Lady, is your baby a poodle?”
Copyright © 2008 by Katherine L. Michaels