25 March 2017

Wrecking Children and Mom-belts

              I'm eight years old. My mother put me into black stockings because "Samantha you need to cover up those bruised legs! People will think I beat you!"
She didn't.
     Honestly though, I'd rather show them the bruises than sport these things ever again. I haven't felt my belly button in three hours. My little sister Liz is riding in the back seat with me, along with Abby, the neighbor girl and her grandparents. They let us use their big astrovan just so we all could go! Everyone came out for me. It was the night of the local elementary chorus concert and being the eldest, it was my honor to have the first concert ever for anyone to attend. Thus, making it a grand event.
       Velvet from my holiday dress rubs on the bottom of my palms. It tickles. A weird satisfying tickle. Being new to this winter holiday custom I thought my outfit to be unique and special. Little did I know, every young girl had been stuck in one of these monstrosities at some point in their adolescence. Of course the bottom is plagued by assorted snowflakes...or are they swirls?

"Don't peel off the glittery shit!"
My mother was always full of unconventional wisdom.
I stop picking at it.

   We're only about five minutes from home when the car veers head on into our van. My step dad had tried everything he could with only seconds to react to the oncoming vehicles behavior. I saw my mom turn out of her seat with the speed of a superhero. Liz is only four years old and in the 90's, car seats weren't given the levels of importance they so desperately deserved. I gazed out my window to try and understand the commotion. My curiosity was answered when my brow bone rapped off the glass. My mother had made a security sacrifice to get to my little sister. She torques both of her arms. One more so, due to the metal plate that was placed in it years ago from a bicycle collision on a steel deck bridge. For the first time in my childhood I recognize my first feelings of empathy for all the passengers in our van. When the ambulance arrived my mom had to sign a paper just to keep me from being taken to the hospital. With how I acted they were worried I had more serious injuries than just the bleeding scrapes, swelled brow and expected bruises. Everyone fared about the same.

 Between us though, I was broken. Deep inside me a part of my childhood gave way to reality. In an unforeseen event I could've lost my entire family and our friends without a moment's notice. I sobbed to see real fear in my sister's eyes and panic on the faces of all these people I cared about. I'd never seen my mother react so seriously.

I couldn't stop it.
Hell, I couldn't even see it coming.

            Within the following weeks I will learn that it was a middle aged couple from Maryland that struck us. There was no insurance on their vehicle and neither of them would tell who was actually driving. They weren't drunk. They were hammered. By the time police had shown up the car unhinged from us and maneuvered itself into the nearest telephone pole. It would come to rest there while they hastily threw beer cans out the windows and climbed into the back seats to await their impending persecution.
    The medics say my little sister's soft skull wouldn't have been able to take the blow on the window like my thick head did. The sacrificial seat belt my mother had made was in fact, necessary. Abby was between us....being BOTH of our friend, and right between both of our ages it was only natural that she also have the middle seat. She is also slightly bruised and scared, but unharmed. Everyone was wearing their seat belt. Abby's grandparents will never buy a van again. They begin purchasing SUV's....they will say it's for the look. To this day I think it's because they feel safer driving anything that resembles the strength of a tank. We'll never ride to a concert together again.
Coincidence? Most likely, but to eight year old Sam it was because of what happened this night.

Jump with me to present day:

I am a rural mail carrier for the United States Postal Service. I've done this for five years and enjoy it greatly. I spend much of my time alone on the back roads of my home towns. Along side the many positives of my career rides a few negatives though. With all of the miles I travel, you wouldn't believe half of the things I see. Today was another one of those days.

       It was a great morning in the office. I'm now out on the road and making great time. The ice plated mailboxes warn me to take it slowly. I've got a much stronger distaste for ice or sleet than any amount of snow. Ice is much deadlier, much faster.
   Traffic starts to block on one of my main roads. I accept the situation as a necessary delay. My jeep's mail signs allow me to wait off to the side to wait out the clean up of a wreck so that I can continue on with my appointed route after. Fairly common situation. Any detour will just cost me more time and more miles. I can't help but wonder if everyone's okay, and if ice was in fact the main culprit, not typical human error. Air bags are visible and both cars need to be towed. Crushed metal and fiber glass pepper the way. I make a mental note to avoid those spots because today would be a nasty one to have to change a flat. An ambulance leaves with it's lights on in the direction of the closest hospital.
 I can be patient because life has made me immensely empathetic. I'd much rather be here, in this delay, than in that ambulance. It is after these thoughts that I notice you coming. It's not hard to spot speed when everything else is idle. A tractor trailer has already began slowing down because he sits high enough to see what you cannot. Your little blue honda is nothing compared to what awaits you around the icy blocked bend. I watch, skeptical, as you try to pass the tractor trailer. You're young and transporting very special cargo. You have no idea that anything is going on and are totally unaware of all the warning signs around you. There's a toddler leaning in between the two front seats to get your attention. I see a phone in your right hand and the carrying arm and canopy of a baby car seat popping up behind you. You appear to be yelling. Whether it's at the phone or the little girl, I cannot differentiate. I lay on the horn to get your attention. Feeling somewhat guilty for the scare it must've given the accident crew and other vehicles, I am satisfied with my action when you hit your brakes and drop your phone. The man in the big rig makes a motion as if he was wiping sweat from his brow and gives me a wave. It was as if time slowed, and now I'm seeing from the eyes of an adult mother instead of a child. An accident within an accident would be seemingly careless.

Somebody would've missed you all.
You never would've been able to embrace your babies in a security grasp to save them.
You'd never get to make up that argument you were having.
I wish so badly to talk to you. You're holding your hand over your heart, obviously startled.
Life did not care that there were 3 children in our van.
Life does not care that your babies are in that car.
And if life's not going to care about your babies, you have to!
We are each other's safety belts.

The accident clears. You drive away. I finish delivering my route.
Life doesn't care that we were there today, but I do.


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