People are talking about me. My vitals. My lack of an arm. My brain.
“Her vitals are good for now, but we need to keep her here for awhile. She lost a lot of blood.”
So much blood…
“We couldn’t save her arm. There are options for this. Prosthetics…”
My arm was lying on the ground…
“She’s suffered very minor brain damage to her frontal lobe. Should not be too serious, but we will have to keep an eye on her since it is a concussion. Her head will hurt for up to two weeks. Over the counter meds should help with that.”
I’m in the hospital.
I venture to open my eyes. I’m attached to tubes: one in my chest, one IV in my arm. Nurses and doctors are bustling about. My mother is speaking to the doctor and crying her eyes out. Her eyes are red and puffy and every now and then you hear a sound escape from her mouth, like a squeak.
“I’m very sorry that there was nothing we could do for your husband. His body…it was completely crushed in the collision.”
Exhusband I want to say.
Wait…what did the doctor just say?
I’m sorry there was nothing we could do for your husband. His body was completely crushed in the collision.
Oh, God, no!
Suddenly, I remember. I remember blood, his blood, everywhere. I remember Uncle Joe collapsing to his knees, screaming, throwing himself on Dad. I remember the blood spewing and the EMTs trying to stop it, but failing. I remember Dad telling me everything was going to be fine and then crashing into oblivion, not responding. I remember the white sheet and the doctors saying, “Time of death, 20:32.”
I remember now.
Joe walks through the doors and to my mother. They hug. Joe’s eyes are red and swollen like my mom’s. The doctor leaves and they come over to me. I try to hold back tears, and subdue the pain, but looking at Joe, seeing him agonizing and unable to stop, cause them to come. He leans forward and embraces me, dropping tears on my shoulder and neck. He looks so much like my dad. They have the same black hair that I also possess, all-knowing green eyes, and sturdy build. That’s where we’re different. I have my mother’s naturally thin body and face shape. When I was younger, I used to believe that Uncle Joe and my dad were twins, but Joe is five years younger than my dad.
“It’s okay, Eryn. Everything is going to be fine.”
I shake my head. “No, it’s not.”
Joe nods, but other than that, he has no rebuttal.
“Oh, Eryn.” My mom hugs me then. I beg to be released from her grasp. Why is she the most emotional one here? It’s ridiculous.
“I don’t understand,” I say to no one in particular.
“I don’t either, Eryn,” Joe says. “I really don’t.”
“How could this happen? What happened?” My brain is drawing a blank again. I just remember the horrid sights. But how did we get there?
“It’s not your fault,” Joe says quickly. "The guy didn't press any charges..."
“You just…it was only a mistake…” My mom says, like me, trying to comprehend the situation.
A mistake. Not my fault. What the hell?
“I don’t know what you guys are talking about.”
They look at each other as if they both were sharing a secret.
“Oh, Eryn,” my mom says again.
“What? Please tell me.”
“You don’t remember? You don’t remember driving with him?”
I rack my brain once again. I do remember singing on the way home from Olive Garden. My dad was jamming to Aerosmith and I was attempting to do so (my dad’s a fan of all these old bands, but I’m not). I do remember stopping at a stop sign, seeing nothing, moving forward, reaching under the seat to grab Bon Jovi, and not taking my eyes off the road.
My dad’s panicked voice as the lights of the F350 truck came to us faster and faster, me with no time to accelerate or turn the wheel. I watched my dad brace himself for the impact.
We were hit, we were down. We rolled. Air bags went off, I probably shouted. I’m sure my life flashed before my eyes.
I watched the blood come from his chest and I was the driver. I was driving the car that killed my father.
The one who got a hundred percent on her driving test the first time. The one who is loved by the driving instructors for “practicing” her parallel parking and merging onto the freeway. How could it be me? How could I have...
“I killed my dad,” I say chokingly.
“No, Eryn-“ Joe says.
“Yes. Don’t lie to me. I did. I killed my dad.” I stare forward blankly, waiting for recognition. My struggle to contain my tears hurts my chest.
“Eryn, you didn’t…”
“Shut up. Just shut up.” I say angrily. How could they be trying to lie to me? I remember clearly now. It was my fault. “Please leave. All of you.”
My uncle pulled my mother out of the room, seeming to understand.
As they shut the door, I cover my mouth with my only hand. It’s too bad that it doesn’t stop me from screaming.