Another Sunday Story.....on a Saturday.
This was supposed to be posted last week, but i just couldn't. Long story. Not this one. THAT one.
My car is on the side of the road. It is in the grass of a pristine suburban Cape Cod. The engine is still running, the radio on a country song. It is Dierks Bentley I think. I don’t know. Isn’t that funny? Just a moment ago I was singing along. Now, only a breath later, I can’t even remember what song it was. I am gone. I am so far from songs and radios and shopping bags in the back seat. I am so far.
I am running. My flip flops are pounding along the side of the road. Cars are moving slowly toward me, having passed the same scene I just did, but continuing on. They probably wonder what happened. They feel sorry. They hope nobody is hurt. But by the time they get through the next light and the pace picks back up again they will have forgotten. They won’t remember that there was an accident at this intersection today.
They didn’t see what I saw.
But maybe I’m wrong. I must be wrong. Surely there are a lot of blue Ford Escapes, ones with Coexist winder stickers. There must be too many to count.
There must be so many that the chances it is my sister’s in that wreck I just passed are extremely low. The chances are as low as they can be, low enough that they don’t even register.
I’m running faster now. I can see the front of the car, but it doesn’t look like hers. That mangled mess is not the one that has parked in my driveway for so many birthday parties and Christmases and when we our parents were married for fifty years. That’s not the car we took camping and tailgating and to a cottage on the lake for her fortieth. That’s not the car I’m supposed to be looking for in just minutes when we meet for lunch like we always do before we get our nails done and talk about our husbands and our mother and all the ways we love each other.
That’s not the car.
This car is mashed between two others and the sight of it holds me hostage, immobile on the side of the road with so much noise and movement and horrible smells all around me. This car is so small now, so crushed and deformed, that nobody could possibly still fit inside of it. No long and beautiful body could still be intact.
This car. It’s not the car.
And then I see something.
I see something and it takes all of my breaths away and I go to my knees on the pavement. In the middle of a road we travel down all the time I go to my knees and think I will never cross this road again. Never.
“Oh my gosh look at this!” I remember her saying.
“Jesus Ellen that’s a bit bright don't you think?” I'd laughed back at her.
“Yes!” she had called out. “That’s exactly why I have to have it. Can you imagine it with my white jeans and those earrings! Remember those earrings we got at that little shop in Cuba?”
“I remember,” I whisper now. I remember. That yellow blouse, so bright, so bright like my sister. I see it. I see it there in the road. And I can’t breathe. I cannot get any air. I can only stare at a glimpse of yellow among so much wreckage.
And then my phone rings. It is hanging out of my back pocket and ringing and I need it because I need help. I so desperately need someone to help me, but I can barely reach for it because all of my breath is gone and there is nothing in me. There is nothing.
Finally though, I clutch the phone in my hands and I face the screen and I am stunned. I don’t understand.
It is her name. It is her name on the screen.
My hands are shaking as I try to answer the phone and I drop it and pick it back up again and finally I whisper the faintest hello. It is so strained and broken and quiet that it is almost nothing at all.
“Where are you loser?” the voice says to me.
I gasp then, but I cannot reply. I am on my knees.
“You’re late,” she continues. “Shocker. How far away are you? I’ll just order okay?”
I look back at my phone screen. It is her name.
I look back at the mashed car in the middle of the road. I look at the yellow.
All that yellow.
“Ellen?” I manage.
“What?” my sister replies. “What the heck’s wrong with you?”
I look again at my phone and I look again at the yellow and my heart is so heavy.
It is just so heavy.
But it is not my sister.