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Change is Just an Opinion
Heather rolled her eyes at her mother as she flounced out of the house. Her flowing white cotton tunic top was warm from the dryer, and her skinny jeans were tucked right into her caramel-colored boots. Her hair was straightened but curled at the tips. Her mom never was very impressed with her appearance, but her education. She had some math test in school today, and she didn’t study for it. But it wasn’t a big deal to her. Whoever she sat next to would probably sneak her some answers.
On the walk to school, five or so girls were walking in a clump surrounding Heather. She would bring up a topic; they would all offer their opinions. She would offer her opinion, and they would all agree. Heather would notice something funny; they would all toss their heads in hysterical laughter. If she commented on someone on the street’s outfit choice, the girls would all express their disgust in unison.
When Heather made it to school, she strode to her seventh-grade classroom with purpose. She offered some lucky contenders a half-wave, others a megawatt smile, and even others got a full-on hug, which also included a free waft of her Juicy Couture perfume. As she walked the halls, she gave other schoolmates worse treatments.
Some sixth grader called out to Heather how cute her hair was that day. Heather stopped her New-York-styled walk, turned to the frizzy-haired blonde, and scrunched her nose. Then she narrowed her eyes at her and continued walking away. She went to her locker and gave some other friends high-fives. But then she started talking to the nerdy guy who sat next to her in math, who really liked her. He gave Heather a bit of a wink and a smile and handed her a piece of paper. She narrowed her eyebrows in confusion and grabbed it. There was a bunch of numbers: decimals, fractions, negatives, and variables. There was also some scribble of red writing on each number’s blank. She gave him a dazzling smile and a side hug.
After school, Heather and five different girls from that morning all walked together to a coffee shop across the street from their school. Heather ordered a peppermint hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and low-fat milk. She suppressed a grin when the others all ordered the same. She snagged a wooden coffee table surrounded by five couches near the fireplace. She flung herself into an inviting leather loveseat. The others soon followed.
The girls sat in their chairs reading various People magazines from the entire year. They compared the relationship, style, and popularity changes throughout the year. Then they talked about those changes in the school year. Not much in popularity had changed: Heather and company.
Slowly but surely, after talking until it turned a little dark outside, the girls began to yawn and started getting texts from their parents. They would roll their eyes and text them back that they would leave soon. Then, not wanting to be the single person to leave first, two girls left at the same time. About ten minutes later, the three other girls walked home together, because they all lived very close. Heather remained in her relaxed position in the leather chair.
All the streetlights suddenly seemed brighter. Heather sat up and looked through the windows into the street. Loads of cars were speeding past the coffee shop with no sign of stopping. She couldn’t explain why, but Heather had a feeling she should go watch the cars. She climbed out of her chair with her now empty eco-friendly drink thermos. Suddenly, her eyes focused on a black pickup truck that was far at the beginning of her line of sight. It was nothing special, just an old truck that had a bumper sticker with a shooting star on it. But something about it stuck out to her. Maybe it was the fact that it appeared to be going slower than the rest of the cars. Maybe it was that one headlight seemed to be visibly brighter than the other, brighter than any of the other cars’ headlights, actually.
There was a college-age girl in the front seat. No one else was in the car, just this girl. She had pretty, long wavy brown hair and incredibly bright brown eyes. She wasn’t texting or talking on the phone; she wasn’t drinking or smoking. She wasn’t listening to an explicit radio song; she was mouthing the words to a Christmas song. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, this girl, but something seemed just wrong. Heather gasped as she visualized what was happening before her very eyes. An impossibly fast sports car with a frustrated-looking, middle-aged man was right next to her, and a dark blue van with a bunch of teenage guys was right behind her.
She had no idea what was going on.
The van was picking up speed, sneaking up on the truck just to get closer to the sports car. They were all laughing as if they were just at a party. The man in the sports car was trying to text, yell at someone on the phone, and find his world news radio station, all at the same time.
Heather’s jaw dropped straight to the ground when the girl’s truck was smashed into from the side and the front- hard. She flew forward in slow motion, but at high speed, which made her forehead collided with the steering wheel. Then when she bounced back, the truck started spinning off the road. She was getting tossed all around in her car like a little rag doll. Then the truck smashed into a telephone pole, and the pole fell onto the top of the car. There was a stream of blood running from the top of her forehead to her neck. Her mouth hung open and her eyes were closed.
Heather dropped the thermos, left her schoolbag, and ran out of the coffee shop. As soon as she pushed the door open, a freezing cold wind hit her bare arms. She had forgotten her coat inside, but she knew she couldn’t be held back by a little chill. She full-on sprinted to the demolished car. There wasn’t a part of it that wasn’t broken, shattered, or covered with glass. The pole had busted through the roof and was just inches away from the girl’s face.
Cars continued speeding past as if nothing had happened. Heather climbed through the shotgun door and watched the girl. She found a school planner she was accidentally sitting on, and the inside front cover said the name Tianna in a sparkly blue pen. She dotted the ‘i’ with a spiral. Heather put her hand on the girl’s hand. It was ice cold.
Heather found Tianna’s cell phone in a cup holder next to a berry smoothie. She took the phone and dialed 911. She held the phone to her ear and told the patient lady on the line the situation from what she knew. Heather didn’t know what the girl’s last name was, what her social security number was, what her parents’ names were, and she was too hysterical to remember even what street they were on.
Heather sat on the curb with her face in her hands for ten minutes. Then she spent five minutes breathing heavily into her hands in an ambulance. After that she followed the nurses awkwardly into the hospital, and she even dared to go into the waiting room for the E.R.
One of the nurses asked her how she was related to this girl, and Heather explained that she saw her crashed on the side of the road. The nurse nodded her head sympathetically and gestured to Heather a seat in the room they took Tianna in.
Heather pretended to read the year-old magazine for two hours. She texted her mom the summarized story, then every half-hour for a report. Heather paced the plain white room. She stared blankly at an ad for cherry Jell-O for twenty more minutes. Then three nurses came in and sat silently by Tianna, checking her pulse and bandaging her cuts and scrapes. One of the nurses said that she should probably show some information to a doctor. She left the room. The second nurse told Heather that she would get some food and drink for Tianna, because when she woke up, she would probably be hungry. One final nurse watched a screen of Tianna’s heartbeats for a little while, but then she told Heather that she was going to go the bathroom. Heather blinked her agreement.
Suddenly, Tianna’s breathing meter went crazy. It went from a steady straight line at ‘zero’ to a quick up-down, up-down pattern. She was breathing again. Heather looked at the heart rate screen; it shot up, too. Something somewhere was beeping like crazy. Tianna’s brown eyes fluttered open. She coughed gently and watched Heather. Tianna brushed her hair behind her ears and spoke to Heather, barely a whisper. Heather jumped up out of her chair and moved next to Tianna’s bed.
Tianna spoke with a voice like silk, “I told Him that you would do it. I told Him that my girl on earth would find it in her heart to change someone else’s life. Now all you have to do, Heather, is: change yours.”
Then the screens went blank.