My dear friend Elisa at EC Writes has released her first book today. It is a tribute to her son, Zeke, who left this world at the tender age of three months. Her book, "The Golden Sky" is her journal from when she found out there were problems with her child during her pregnancy, all the way through to his loss and the hell her life and marriage went through trying to cope.
This post is based on an event in my life that was nearly fatal to me. It is interesting enough to note that this event happened almost exactly three weeks before little Zeke was born to Elisa. I urge you all to read her book. It is full of the most poignant of emotions and as her title would suggest, ends with love and hope. Because after every storm there is a golden sky. I love you Elisa. I know Zeke is smiling proudly upon you this day, and forever.
Sadie glanced over her shoulder at the road behind her. Not a single car. Why, then, was this car in front of her? The only car in a half a mile radius and it was chugging away in front of her. “Don’t these people realize that it’s fifty through here?” Sadie exclaimed. She gripped the steering wheel, locked her elbows and pressed herself into the back of her seat in an effort to release the frustration. At the sound of a chuckle in the seat next to hers, she turned to see what was so funny. “What?” she asked Genaveve. “What’s so funny?”
“You are,” said Genaveve, turning away to stare out the window again.
“C’mon, they are going thirty-five. This is ridiculous.” That instant, Sadie had an idea that would solve their dilemma. The brake pedal slammed to the floor and Sadie brought the car to a crawl, calculating distances in her mind.
“What’re you doing?” Genaveve’s voice went up an octave when she saw the smile spread across Sadie’s face.
“I’m going to pass them,” Sadie said. This wasn’t going to be legal, it was a solid double yellow line and only a tiny turn lane anywhere within sight. Sadie didn’t care though, no one was around to witness it.
The adrenaline that was released like a flood gate opening during a rainstorm when the accelerator pedal touched the floor again momentarily. Left foot, right arm and right foot worked effortlessly in unison to move through the five gears. Blood pumped through Sadie's veins, making her hands pulsate against the steering wheel, drowning out all noise save for the roar of the engine and the beating of her heart.
“You... are... crazy,” Gena yelled at Sadie before her eyes closed tightly and she gripped her chair for dear life. But the words fell on deaf ears.
When Sadie made the decision to pass the vehicle, her brain swiftly began calculating the distance from the car in front of them. Additionally, she had to factor in the distance of the cars in the opposite lane of oncoming traffic, through which they would be passing. Coming within feet of the car in front of them, Sadie maneuvered the Toyota swiftly into the two-hundred foot stretch of turn lane. The oncoming vehicle honked it's horn and swerved a little, more out of fear than necessity. With the fortune only luck can provide, the little Toyota jerked back into the correct lane, now in front of the previously offending car.
“Ha ha, that was great.” Sadie’s smile was so big her cheeks were hurting. She turned to look at her cousin. Genaveve’s face lacked color and she looked as if she might pass out. “You okay Gena?” Sadie asked. Gena managed to compose herself just enough and began ranting and raving at Sadie.
“You lunatic. Never, ever do that again, especially with me in the car. We almost got hit.” Gena's face changed color from white to red allowing her strawberry blonde hair to accentuate the fury behind her tongue lashings.
“Oh, calm down Gena,” Sadie smirked. “I knew we’d make it just fine or else I wouldn't have done it.”
Gena scowled at her and “I don't believe you” etched itself in every line of her face. Trying not to laugh, Sadie altered her attempts at soothing the lion she had created of her cousin.
“C'mon Gena, you know I wouldn't do something stupid enough to get us into a car accident. Besides, that was freaking awesome, you have to admit!”
“At least we are almost there, I can’t stop shaking. You scared the daylights right outta me.”
“James is going to be there, he should be able to calm those nerves of yours,” said Sadie. She knew how much Gena liked James and this would be a sure way to get her cousin’s thoughts off the car ride and onto a more pleasant subject.
“Oh good, I was really hoping he would be.” Gena’s mood brightened visibly.
Score, it worked. Sadie didn’t like upsetting her cousin, so she was glad to be able to put a smile back on her face. They had been best friends for nearly fifteen years, and since Sadie was a few weeks away from her seventeenth birthday, that was like eternity.
As much as Sadie loved her cousin, she couldn’t help herself when it came to driving her car. She really enjoyed the power and control she found when behind the wheel of her little sports coupe. There weren’t many places in her life where she felt like she had control so she would take it where she could get it. The adrenaline she so often triggered when driving kept her spirits up when she was having a hard time and gave her a momentary escape from the mundane pull of everyday life as a high school student.
There was only one thing she craved more than dashing down the freeways at alarming speeds,only one other thing in her life gave her a greater feeling of intoxication than her car and that was her boyfriend, Ryan. She had been with him for eleven months, one week and three days and never tired of seeing him. When she was with him she felt like she could loose herself and be content to never find her way on her own again, as long as he was there with her.
Sadie’s blissful reverie was interrupted when her hand yanked on the emergency brake and turned the key, pulling it from the ignition. They were here.
Sadie and Gena piled out of the little car and made their way up three flights of stairs to apartment number 716. Sadie rapped the door sharply to announce their presence and the two girls swiftly adjusted their clothing to make sure nothing was amiss before the door was answered. The lock clicked open and the door swung in, allowing the two girl's entrance.
Sadie wrapped her arms tightly around the neck of the guy who had let them in.
“Hey sexy.” His voice was playful as he leaned in to give her a kiss. “You two ready to hit the pool or do ya gotta change first?”
“Nope, we're ready.” Sadie confirmed with a quick glance at Gena, then remembered. “Oh, is James coming?”
“He’s down at the pool with Shawn already. He wanted to get his tan as dark as he could before winter.” James was Ryan’s older brother whom he shared an apartment with and Shawn was their cousin. He didn’t live there but he may as well have. Shawn was over all the time, resigned to the boredom of single life. But a few weeks ago he finally hooked a girl and Shawn couldn’t stop talking about her.
The three of them grabbed towels and headed out to the pool. Genaveve led with a slightly more urgent pace than Sadie and Ryan.
“I can't believe the pool closes tomorrow.” Sadie moaned, seeking sympathy for her lack of control over the weather. “It feels like summer just started and it's already over.”
“Welcome to Utah!” Ryan jibbed sarcastically.
Letting her lower lip protrude in dissatisfaction, Sadie leaned into Ryan's side a little as they walked. Gena stood at the entrance gate of the pool, her foot tapping impatiently waiting for Ryan to arrive with the keys. When the gate was unlocked Gena let herself in without further ado.
Sadie watched Gena for a moment, silently praying that her cousin wouldn’t over do it. Gena had been know to be exorbitant with guys she liked, but when Sadie saw her take a seat next to James and begin lite conversation, she relaxed and followed Ryan over to a few unoccupied chairs.
Ryan seated himself and removed his sandals and shirt. Sadie couldn’t help herself as her eyes lingered on his bare chest, well-shaped from many years of martial arts. Her eyes momentarily caught his and she smiled a little, realizing her stare didn’t go unnoticed, then looked down and kicked off her flip flops. Ryan leaned back in his chair and made quite a show of himself, watching Sadie shimmy out of her tight shorts and shirt.
When she was finally in only her swim suit he grabbed her hand and pulled her onto his lap.
“You make me think bad thoughts,” he whispered into her ear.
Sadie shook her head frowning and turned away quickly as the smile replaced itself on her face. Changing the subject Sadie turned to look at Ryan again.
“My parents left out of town today. They went to California for a week to visit my grandparents. My brother, Carson, is in charge of me while they’re gone and he doesn’t care how late I stay out as long as I let him know when I’ll be home.” Sadie loved it when Carson was in charge, she could do as she pleased without having guilt trips hammered into her by her mother and father for disobeying.
“Great,” Ryan said. Feigning distraction for dramatic effect until he pulled his eyes up to meet hers. “So how late do ya wanna to stay over then?”
“Well, I can’t stay all night, but I was thinking one o’clock would give us some time and get me home without any troubles from the family.”
“Okay, I’ll try to let you go by then.”
Sadie trotted up to the pool and dove cleanly under the water. The small ripples left by her nearly flawless entry were followed by a cannon ball wave as Ryan jumped in after her. When Sadie surfaced, the mixed sensations of the hot sun and the cool wind sent shivers through her whole body. She spun in the water to locate Ryan, anticipating an attack from behind. Just as she presumed, his arms secured themselves around her waist, pulling her momentarily underwater before releasing her.
“You turd,” she said, wiping the water out of her eyes.
“What? You weren’t wet enough, thought I would help you out a bit.” Ryan’s eyes were teasing, daring her to contradict him so he could advance his play.
“Whatever,” Sadie retorted and swam up close to Ryan. Her legs wrapped around his waist for stability in the ruckus and splashing all around them. Placing one hand on his cheek, her other arm encircled his neck bringing his face closer to hers until their lips met.
When Sadie released the kiss she whispered in his ear, “I forgive you.” Like shifting gears in her car, Sadie’s loving demeanor turned to revenge and her hands positioned themselves on top of his head, pushing it underwater while simultaneously pulling his lower body out of balance with a jerk of her legs. She began swimming to the opposite side of the pool. Being within arms reach of Ryan when he recovered himself was out of the question.
Sadie and Ryan chased each other around the pool for nearly an hour before calling a truce. Sadie was exhausted, though it appeared that Ryan could have continued for another round.
“I’m gonna go lay out for a bit if that’s alright. You wanna join me?” Sadie knew the offer would be turned down, but she felt it polite to at least ask. She was here to spend the day with Ryan, after all.
“Nah, I’ll go see if James and Shawn want to play some ball or somethin’.”
Sadie and Ryan exchanged a quick kiss before she climbed out of the pool. She walked as fast as she could to her towel, determined not to break the pool area rule that had been ingrained in her since she was little, “Don’t run in the pool area.”
The slight breeze made the warm summer air absolutely frigid against her wet skin. Grabbing the towel she cleared away most of the moisture from her body then made herself comfortable on the lounge chair, basking in the sun.
Ryan called her a reptile, saying she could never be warm unless she was soaking up the sun. Sadie often wondered if there was more truth to that statement than anyone realized. It was the only explanation she could come up with herself for why she was always so cold. Well, that and it was genetic, her mom was the same way. When they were kids, Gena always complained that Sadie would leave the pool before her. Sadie couldn’t stay in the water that long, she got too cold and she hated being cold.
As if on cue, Gena called to Sadie, “Getting out already?” Sadie nodded at her then closed her eyes, enjoying the almost melodic hubbub that always accompanied a public pool. She drifted in and out of a light sleep, shifting her position occasionally so she wouldn’t get too much sun on one side or the other.
A small splash of cold water on her cheek shocked Sadie out of her dozing. She sat upright wiping the water from her face and glared at Ryan. He was of course, smiling, happy to be able to tease her, just enough to get a reaction out of her.
“I was wondering if you were done sunning yourself and wanted to get back in with me?”
Sadie looked around, trying to decide if getting into the water again was a good idea since she was now completely dry. Her gaze halted when she saw Shawn helping a girl onto his shoulders, getting ready to launch her in the air. She was very petite with dark skin and hair that marked her as Hispanic. A hot pink string bikini was the only thing attempting to cover her butt and large breasts. Shawn was all smiles. Wiping the dumbstruck expression off her face she looked up at Ryan to answer his question.
“No, I really don’t want to get all wet again, I would rather go up to the apartment and figure out what to have for dinner, I’m getting hungry.” The statement didn’t tell the whole truth, but it was convincing enough for Ryan.
“Okay, I’m getting pretty hungry myself. Maybe we could order some pizza.” Ryan reached for his towel and dried himself off.
“Is that Naomi?” Sadie finally asked. She didn’t want to bring attention to the fact that this short-legged super model was making her uncomfortable, but she had to know whether this girl would be coming up to the apartment or be left at the pool.
“Ya, she got here about an hour ago. Shawn can get her launched pretty high in the air, but not as high as I can,” Ryan boasted.
Sadie’s heart cramped. That was just the type of thing she was trying to avoid. This little sprite, Naomi, was a tramp, it was written all over her body language, from the way she giggled to her bust-out posture. Wanting to leave more urgently now than before, Sadie jumped to her feet, grabbed her sandals and began walking towards the gate, beckoning Ryan to follow her. Ryan nearly had to jog to keep pace, trying to get to the pool gate before her so she wouldn’t be waiting on him. He was a gentleman like that, even when Sadie made it difficult at times.
Back in the apartment Sadie and Ryan changed into some dry clothes. Not wanting to be around when Naomi and Shawn ventured out of the pool, Sadie suggested that they go out to eat instead, maybe go see a movie too. She knew Gena would be okay without her, she had James to keep her entertained for a while and he would be good enough to drive her home when she needed to leave as well.
Ryan insisted on driving, he always did. Sadie was okay with it though, even if Ryan’s little truck smelled like an ash tray. She knew that he would gladly drive her coupe instead, but that was one of the things she had, that he wanted. Keeping it away from him was her way of teasing him, and maintaining a little bit of control in the process.
Reaching into his pocket, Ryan pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lit one. Sadie hated the fact that he smoked, but he kept promising her he would quit, so she didn’t make a fuss about it very often. She appreciated the fact that he tried to keep the smoke out of the truck, but it was less successful than he realized. It was the thought that counted, right?
“So after dinner, you want to go see a movie? I got paid today so I will cover it.”
“Sure, I will pay you back one of these days, when I get a real job.” Ryan chuckled a little embarrassed that for all of his chivalrous efforts, his girlfriend was always the one paying for their dates.
Sadie didn’t have any bills or commitments for her money so she usually spent it on Ryan. He didn’t make much money working part time and he was paying part of his tuition, his dad was paying the rest. Sadie had even paid his half of the rent once and his truck insurance a few times.
She didn’t mind though, Sadie was just happy to help. It was probably genetic as well, like the being cold all of the time, but at least this wasn’t a bad thing. Almost the entire time during her childhood there was someone living with them, someone her parents were helping out until they could afford to live on their own again. Even now, Sadie’s oldest brother Carson was living with them. Carson, his pregnant wife and their three kids. It made for a chaotic existence, but her parents enjoyed helping people out, so Sadie never complained.
After a fast food dinner and a rather comical movie Sadie and Ryan returned to the apartment around midnight. Sadie hated this part of the day, when she had to say good-bye, see you tomorrow. They would say goodbye and then stand there, not wanting to be the first one to walk away. Reluctantly, Sadie climbed into her car and began to drive away. Looking out the rear view mirror her last sight of Ryan was the cherry burning on the cigarette that he held fast between the fingers of his right hand.
The night felt cold as Sadie drove out onto the highway. She shivered and turned up the music so that it would drown out all noise and all thought. The cold wasn’t the temperature in the air, but in her heart as she drove away from blissful freedom and towards reality. The music would keep her mind off that though, so the louder she cranked it, the better she felt.
Looking at the clock Sadie realized she had only fifteen minutes to get home before she would be in trouble with her brother and without a second thought, accelerated her coupe to about eighty-five. The car in front of her was moving too slowly so she flipped on her turn signal momentarily before adjusting to the new lane.
A loud crack reverberated through the vehicle. The A-arm of the small coupe had severed completely. Lacking a forward right wheel assembly the car wrenched to the right. Terror filled Sadie. Any and all other emotion in her body fled as the steering wheel jerked from her hands.
Force is calculated by the mass of an object multiplied by the velocity which it travels. At eighty-five miles per hour, the amount of force the car created when it hit the guard rail tore at the metal like paper. A sudden inhibition of forward momentum redirected itself as inertia had not yet been sated by friction. The car twisted into the air.
There were three collision that happened within split seconds of each other. The first was the car’s front tire to the guard rail, the second was Sadie’s head on the driver’s side window and the third was Sadie’s brain to the inside of her skull and her internal organs to the rest of her body. Agony tore through Sadie.
The airbag deployed against her chest. Unfortunately, the torsion through the air combined with the lack of a seat belt succeeded only in the airbag thrusting her to the side. Her upper body slammed against the window. Shattering glass and tortured screams engulfed the scene. Her helpless body flew through the air. A momentary freedom from the contorting metal disrupted as she descended again. In seconds her body hit the ground. The right arm came into contact with the empty field first. It snapped under her weight. Sadie slid several feet across the rough dirt and weeds before it ended. The masticating metal went silent only a few yards away. The calamity played it’s melody out to several vehicles on the highway. The only thing Sadie heard was pain. Blood poured down her face from the many gashes through her forehead and hair. Her arm felt as though it was no longer attached to her body. Punishment wracked her entire being.
“Ryan, help me. It’s so cold, it hurts.”
Sadie lay in the empty field, unable to move when three cars stopped. The occupants ran to the coupe to see if anyone needed help. A minute passed before the people realized where the driver of the car was. Horrified they called 911. No one went near her. No one wanted to be the one to say, “She’s dead.”
An ambulance arrived and emergency medical technicians went to work binding her securely to a transport board and triaging the wounds. She was fading quickly. The Life Flight helicopter picked her up and transported her to the nearest level 5 trauma center.
Police on the scene took a report of events from the witnesses and were able to find the information necessary to contact Sadie’s family. Gena received the news around six o’clock in the morning and was asked to please, tell Ryan what happened.