I felt light and airy. Weightless. Everything I saw was fuzzy and disconnected. I looked down at myself as my bare feet touched the floor and saw my perfectly manicured nails, all thanks to Halie who did them before the concert, come into focus. I remembered the concert, the music, the singing, the necklace Hunter gave me, then … PAIN.
“CLEAR!” Someone said and I turned around. As my vision became clearer I saw myself laying on a table and I jumped back.
“CLEAR!” They yelled again.
Everyone looked to the machine on the left and when it started producing a rhythmic beeping sound the nurses started back to whatever it was that they were doing beforehand. There was a short redheaded doctor looking over something at my chest and sighing a lot through his nose. He grabbed some gauze from the tray that a girl who looked like she was trying very hard not to vomit or cry, was holding.
“Try smiling, Rebecca. It helps with the gag reflex.” The doctor said without looking up. He continued to work a moment longer on my chest then turned to face her. “You will need to get that under control if you want to be an emergency doctor.”
“Yes sir.” She said with a very painful smile on her face.
“Where is Dr. Marshall?” he asked the room as he turned his attention to the top of my head.
“He’s working on one of the other passengers in the accident.” Rebecca said.
“Are her parents here?” He asked without looking up.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Would those machines just stop! I turned my attention back to the me on the table as people started grabbing things and jabbing them into me.
There were tubes coming out of me in all directions. There was a tube coming out of my side, draining this yellow liquid into a bucket, IV’s in three places and … to say the least I was a mess. There was a long gash on the right side of my head, down my right arm, which disappeared into a split below my elbow, and my left leg was mauled. Not to mention the particularly nasty gash on my right side. I didn’t look at it too closely, but it looked very deep. My calf looked like someone had taken a cheese grater to it down to the bone and then broke my leg. They had a tube stuffed down my throat that was hooked up to some machine that I assumed was allowing me to breath by the sound of the wooshing sounds it made. My hair had so much blood in it, I couldn’t even see where all the blood on my skin stopped and the blood in my hair started.
The doctor started asking for 18 ccs of this and 10 ccs of that. None of which was making sense. I was standing right here. How could that person laying on the table look like me? How did I know it was me? I took a couple steps forward and reached out to touch my foot. I hesitated a moment when I saw some of my toes bent in the wrong direction.
Where were my shoes? Oh man. Mom is going to kill me if I lost those shoes. She told me that if I had paid $200 for a pair of sneakers, then they better last a while. A long while.
All of the sound in the room faded away. I just looked at myself. Was that really me? I must be dreaming. What horrible thing happened to me that I would look like this? This can’t be real. I reached my hand out to touch my big toe when a nurse walked right through my arm.
I jumped backwards.
What the hell?
I looked around. It was total chaos around me. The redheaded doctor was gone and nurses were moving a million miles a minute. The machines I heard earlier beeping and driving me nuts were blinking silently. I couldn’t even hear the nurse’s chatter or movements. I couldn’t hear anything anymore. Then a thought crossed my mind …
“Oh. My. God.“ I whispered, “I’m dead.”
“No you’re not.” Said a voice I hadn’t heard in months, but would have recognized anywhere. I whirled around and saw my Grammy, who had died that previous March standing by the window in the corner.
“Grammy?” I said. I couldn’t believe it, but there standing before me was my Grammy. She looked just as I remembered her. Plump, short, well shorter than me, short curly light brown hair with lots of grey in it, glasses, and her warm inviting arms stretched out to me. I ran to her and inhaled her familiar scent. As she wrapped those loving arms around me I asked, “How? You died.”
“I did.” She said in a soothing voice as she pressed her palm to my back and rubbed it in slow small circles.
“But you said I’m not dead.”
“But you died.”
“We’ve already determined that dear.” She said pulling me away from her.
“I’ve missed you so much.”
“Honey, I’m always here, even if you can’t see me. Well not here, per se, but I’m always with you.”
“I know.” I said as there was another BEEP and I jumped suddenly able to hear everything going on in the room again.
“Grammy. What is going on?”
“You were in a car crash honey. A very bad one by the looks of it.”
A tall doctor came into the room and started to work on the gash to my side. His lips pursed and he took a deep breath, sighing sadly as he released it. “There is massive internal bleeding going on in there. We need to operate right away. Get her prepped.” He said and as he looked down at the bucket that the tube from my side was draining into and added, “And we need to empty this bucket.”
“We can’t move her Doctor Marshall. The tube draining that lung is just barely staying in place. She will drown if we move her.” said the darker skinned nurse who changed the bucket.
Dr. Marshall stood up and sighed. “If we don’t, she’ll bleed out like the blonde.”
Like the Blonde. All the air rushed out of my lungs. No. Not. “Halie.” I walked up to the doctor and started firing questions at him. “What do you mean, like the blond? What happened to Halie? What about Hunter? Where are they?”
He walked right through me. I whirled to him and started screaming, “Excuse me! I’m talking to you. Where is Clay? Lani? Kayden? Don’t ignore me! What about Mrs. Marlow, Halie’s Mom?”
“Honey. They can’t hear you.” Grammy said coming and taking my hand.
“Grammy. Where are they? Where are my friends?”
Her eyes turned sad and dark. “Baby girl.” She started and then brushed some hair from my face, tucking it behind my ear.
I shook my head. “No. Grammy. No. Please don’t tell me.” My voice cracked as I tried to fight back the hysteria.
She looked at me and just said, “I’m so sorry.”
I fell into her arms and cried tearlessly, sobbing and gasping for air. Grammy held me and let me cry. I felt as if my heart had shattered into a million pieces. Everyone was gone.
My best friend was gone. Halie and I had been best friends since second grade. I’ll never forget when she let me use that black crayon because mine had broken in two. She understood you couldn’t color with a broken crayon. She had always been there for me. The first one to stand up for me when I didn’t stand up for myself. The first one to help me with my history homework or tell me what it was because I never wrote it down. The one who went on more vacations with me than anyone else. And Mrs. Marlow, she died too. She was like a second mother to me. Always supportive, but still a Mother.
Then there was Hunter, the boy who I loved and who loved me so much. My hand found the necklace that Hunter had just given me and I grasped it tightly and wept some more. Images flashed through my mind of all the times at the beach with him. Our first dance, our first kiss, the first time he came to my house to meet my parents, the first time …. There would be no more first times and with that thought, another wave of sobbing flowed through me.
There wasn’t going to be any more Lani, the girl who had fiery red hair and who could have passed for a real life Princess Ariel. The girl who was studying so hard so she could get into a great college so she could be a veterinarian. She loved animals so much and spent as many hours as she could at the County Animal Shelter. Her father would be devastated. At least she would be with her Mother who died of cancer a couple years ago.
An image of Kayden flashed through my memory of a girl with short brown hair and hazel eyes. She was going to be the lawyer who got us out of any trouble we managed to get ourselves into. She was also the most faithful of our group. It had taken her awhile to let us in, but we knew that we would have to royally screw up to lose her friendship now. Did she know that Jeremy was going to ask her out this weekend at the beach?
And the guy who stole Halie’s heart, Clay. Did he have any idea how much she liked him? They had only been together a few of months, but he made her so happy. He was smart, funny, and became fast friends with Hunter. They both thought the same way, and I don’t mean just in the normal teenage boy way, of course there was that, but it wasn’t a week before they were finishing each other’s sentences. You never would have guessed they hadn’t been friends since Kindergarten.
Alarms were going off behind me and there was frantic beeping coming from just about every machine I was hooked up to. Dr. Marshall was shouting instructions to the nurses left and right then started checking my eyes as my head flinched backwards repeatedly, and then I just stopped moving.
My whole body had just gone totally limp.