Chaos. Everything around me is chaos.
Voices call out rapid-fire orders and questions, each voice getting louder and more insistent. Blue and red lights flash in erratic rotation, illuminating a line of redwood trees standing as silent witnesses along the side of the road. Boots crunch over broken glass close to my head. A stranger’s face appears in my line of vision.
“Hey, there. Can you hear me? How are you doing?”
Stupid. How does he think I’m doing? Can’t he see I’m broken and bleeding on a bed of asphalt?
“Can you hear me? What’s your name? Tell me your name.” His voice gets louder as he kneels next to me and shines a bright light in my face. I close my eyes.
“Her name is Asha,” a calm, quiet voice says. “Stop yelling at her.”
I know that voice. Relief washes over me. She’s alive! I have not killed her. But when I try to turn my head, to search for her, to see if she’s injured, terrible pain shoots through my body. An involuntary scream erupts from my core. The loud man grasps both sides of my head.
“No, Asha. Don’t move.” Over his shoulder he yells, “I need some help over here! Bring the board.”
Again I close my eyes, the remnants of my scream still gurgling in my throat. The pain is so intense, it’s ridiculous. Is it possible to survive this much pain?
Behind closed lids I search frantically for another light, a beautiful light that will end this nightmare. I listen to the night sounds, barely audible below the man’s voice, straining to hear a chord of something beyond simple music. All I hear is the cacophony of the accident scene. I will myself to separate from this battered body as I’ve seen others break free. But nothing happens. None of the classic signs appear.
This is not my exit scene. The realization comes with mixed emotions.
The man is still shouting to someone, barking out orders, demanding faster assistance.
Don’t worry, mister, I think. I’m not dying.
I’m trapped here. Trapped in this broken body. Trapped in this hideous pain. There isn’t going to be any easy escape from this awful mess I’ve created.
How could I have been so stupid?
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