A Train Whistled in the Distance

“Accidents are not accidents but precise arrivals at the wrong right time.”
Dejan Stojanovic

Tonight, I turned off my television. There was no music emanating from my radio or computer. No videos played to distract me. Instead, I read a book by Chuck Palahniuk on how to write. My a/c clicked on from time to time, but for the most part my world was silent. As I read an essay, I was bombarded by the sound of a train whistle in the distance. From my second story apartment, I swear I could feel the vibration of the train cars as they glided across the tracks.

Instantly, the hair stood up on the nape of my neck, and I became acutely aware that the train whistle I heard was crossing the tracks where my accident took place on March 12, 2014. I could feel the cold from that night, and when I exhaled I swore I could see my breath. My heart raced and I could feel everything from that night. The impact of the crash and my body being thrown all over the car. My foot slipping off the brake that I’d jammed to the floor to keep from running into the back of a bus. The delicate skin around my ankle bone sliced open and laid bare to the bone. How helpless I felt, and broken.

The blood trickled down my face from the cut on my forehead. The skin on my left arm burned because of the powder from the deployed airbags. I was bruised and my right hand was laid open with a cut that required stitches. My head hit the windshield and I blacked out. I was almost dizzy with excitement when I came to, and then slid into the welcoming abyss of shock.

I screamed to anyone that could hear, ‘GET ME OUT!’

I was acutely aware of my surroundings as I touched the windshield where a hank of my hair had been pulled out. I think I even told one of the rescue workers to look at it. I’m sure they thought I was crazy. I remembered asking the bus driver if he and the passengers were all right. I don’t even think I was wearing a coat.  I smelled blood, powder, burning rubber, and adrenaline. My vision went yellow and green, but I had no idea why.

In one coherent moment, I texted Roger that I’d been in an accident. I was so damn cold. The ambulance drivers had to pull me out of my car. Or maybe it was the fire department, I’m not sure. I begged for pain meds and for someone to miraculously fix my foot. I thought for sure I’d torn the damn thing off. The pain was so bad, and recovery so slow that I sometimes wished I had.

Train whistles used to make me smile. They reminded me of when Mom would send Sis and me on the Amtrak to go visit our grandparents in Battle Creek every summer. I hope I find serenity again, from that train whistle in the distance, and  the clack, clack, clack of the metal wheels on polished tracks.

 

Advertisements

The Bloody Shoe

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Maya Angelou

 

I arrived home to my little apartment in the college town that I live in. The air was sweet with the scent of mud and springtime. I opened my sliding glass door to welcome the gentle breeze that would send those wonderful scents inside, allowing the smell of kitty urine to dissipate. For a short time, till I could get on the floor and scrub away the anger that Cinders felt because I left her for three weeks.

My ex-husband continuing to be the good man that he is, brought me home from the rehabilitation center that I’d been residing in for the last 17 days. I was recuperating from a major auto accident that left my ankle shattered but my resolve steely. On March 12, I decided to go buy gas before I went to bed. Knowing the temperature was going to drop, I headed into the night. I didn’t realize that it would be a fateful decision, one that I will grapple with understanding for the rest of my life. It changed everything. Everything.

I scooted around in my new friend, a kick ass wheelchair. I figured I better get used to it since I was going to be using it for at least the next three months or more. I’m recovering from a shattered ankle and reconstructive surgery along with two bone grafts thrown in. When I do it, I do it up good! Cue more rolling around on carpet and trying to get re-acclimated to my domicile. Cinders, the devil kitty mewed like she was in heat. I guess she missed me, but when I rolled up to her, she backed away and showed me her ass.

Roger helped me start putting things away, all the while admonishing me not to do too much. He was my partner for almost 25 years, and he knows me all too well. He went to grocery shop, and I set my sights on emptying bags. And putting things back where they belong. Wiping down kitchen counters with bleach and going through mail. Cinders kept observing me from afar but her curiosity got the best of her and she sidled up against my leg. The one with the cast, because, well, I needed cat hair to adhere to it.

Laura buzzed my door and I popped up to press the button to let her in. Chalk one up for old one leg, I could buzz people in through the apartment security door. Woohoo! She was so excited to be my first visitor. We hugged and chatted, both of us fucking around with our phones and catching the score of the Tigers game. That’s one of my goals this season is to watch the Tigers and enjoy doing so. It’s easy to do when they have a pitcher as hot as Verlander. Damn!

Roger returned from grocery shopping and we put things away, together. I’m determined to live independently and that means putting away groceries. After that task was done, I started emptying the box of shit from my car. Gloves, umbrellas, hats, and other odds and ends were put away in the coat closet. There are no immediate plans to buy a new car. I can’t drive for at least three months anyway.

Then I found the bloody shoe. It was the one I was wearing when I collided with a bus on a slippery surface street at a railroad track. There was a bloody sock too, but it didn’t effect me quite the way that damn shoe did. My blood was soaked into it, along with other flecks of gore. I was mesmerized by it. I contemplated saving it. I had just bought them, for 25 % off no less. Roger and Laura with all of the their R.N. empathy told me to get over it and throw the damn thing out. I laughed with them, but decided to keep it. For now, anyway.

I wanted to keep it to remind me that life can turn on a dime. An impulse. Or even a decision to go buy gas on a night when there’s been a blizzard, because OMFG I need gas right now. I’ll throw it away eventually. Probably when the cast comes off for good. Or, worst case scenario, when the doctor tells me that I’m going to have my ankle fused after my fourth invasive surgery. I pray for the former, but I’m trying to prepare for the latter.

That bloody shoe reminds me to be less impulsive. It also reminds me that it could have been worse. Much, much worse.

Five Sentence Fiction-The Happy Accident of Serendipity

Serendipity

He was one of those lovers of life that believed everything happened for a reason. Be it fate, kismet, serendipity, luck or even karma. He’d been told that life was about making choices, coincidences, and having free will. Those three things were only part of the equation. There were powers stronger than he could even begin to imagine, bringing him, to her.