Friday, November 28, 2014

Mad Max Serialization, Chapter Two Part 1

Less than four hours after I spoke with Bette, I walked down
the center aisle of that last plane to National with a connection to
Richmond and found my seat. The last one in the middle of the last
row. I squeezed between a large woman in the window seat and an
even larger man on the aisle. I fetched the toy from my bag and held
it in my lap. I closed my eyes and leaned against the back of the
upright seat. I couldn’t recline an inch since there was a bathroom
right behind me. Before I realized what was happening, memories,
like an old movie, began their thousandth rerun in my head.

My husband Norm and I returned from a Friday night dinner
date. We laughed and talked about stopping at the farm store for ice
cream and cones for the kids.

I looked past Norm in the passenger seat. Two pairs of headlights
raced toward me. Before I could react, one car slammed into the
passenger side and spun us out of control. The second car braked
and veered to the right, rolled over in a corn field and exploded in
a fireball.

I was pinned to the driver’s door, my husband’s bleeding body in
my arms. The driver of the lead car stared at me out of dead eyes, his
body halfway through his windshield. I couldn’t see Norm’s face, but
his blood soaked my lap. I was sure I held a dead man. I screamed
and screamed before passing out.

I stopped the movie at the end of the first reel, unable to watch
it from beginning to end. I wanted to look out the window, but the
woman had pulled down the shade and stuffed her pillow into the
recess. I stared at the top of a balding head in the fully-reclined seat
in front of me and sighed. I was one second away from pitching a
fit and elbowing the people beside me. If either moved a hair, I’d be
squished. I wanted to cry and wring my hands, but I couldn’t. Not in
public. Instead, I stroked the toy, finding solace in its familiar worn

I revived as the fire department cut me free. I thrashed and
screamed, “Please. My children. Take me to my children!” My
stomach convulsed, and I thought I’d throw up. Instead, I hiccupped.
A doctor set my broken wrist, told me there was nothing he
could do for my ribs, and kept me in the hospital overnight to be sure
I didn’t have a concussion. The next day, my sister-in-law brought
fresh clothes and drove me home. I sleepwalked into the house to
deal with two distraught kids.

The jet bounced to a landing in Richmond so uncomfortable it
threw us against our seat belts and sent loose items racing down the
aisle. I might not have been able to move side to side, but nothing
stopped me from lurching forward. Had there been any room in the
overheads, sure as hell items would have shifted during flight.

I grabbed a cab, phoned the Colonel, and fretted most of the way
to VCU. When the taxi pulled up at the emergency room entrance,
I put on my I’m-wearing-my-big-girl-panties-and-can-deal-with anything
face and marched through the automatic doors. The
Colonel met me, held me in a worried hug, and took charge of my
roll-aboard. Door to door, it was less than twelve hours since Bette’s

“No news."

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