January 26, 2011
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A street lamp flickers before going dark. My footsteps crackling in the gravel are the only noise. The empty, dark street is silent, though I see cars frequently pass by at the intersection ahead. It can’t be more than 400 yards but the atmosphere is like a different world. The only light is either behind or in front of me, for I have entered limbo, no sound, no light, no color. The orange glow of the street lamps at the intersection beckon me to them. All I hear is the wind in the trees, but as I hug myself for warmth, the sound reminiscent of an abandoned swing in a darkened and gloomy playground reaches my ears. Devoid of life, dark houses crawl by as I begin to walk faster.
I wish I had another coat, I wish I had my music player with me, I wish that pimple would go away before I got to first period, I wish my hair was longer, straighter, more glossy. I wish, I wish, I wish. But wishing doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere, except maybe to the end of this gloomy street. My thoughts return to the present and physical as my legs pulse forward into the busier intersection, my face bathed in the orange fluorescent glow of the street lamps. The roads are slick and grimy, characteristic of this big city, small town. My rain boots scuff along the shoulder of the road, making a scrtch, scrtch sound. The cars pass by, tossing up my hair and obscuring my vision. Their wheels spinning in the water make a shhhhh sound. Scrtch scrtch shhh. The cars gossip about me, hushed murmurs discussing the way my jeans stick out of my rain boots a little unevenly, how my jacket looks bulky, how my backpack dwarfs my lean and lanky body.
Hopping between the crosswalk lines, my eyes glance up at the glowing red glove illuminating the crosswalk sign before I turn and root around in my backpack. Pen, pen, gum, hair tie, there it is, my lip-gloss. The obtrusive chirping of the crosswalk penetrates my reverie, I was absentmindedly checking the time and contemplating whether or not I would have time to make a trip to the mirrors in the bathroom before first period. The light mist settling on my eyelashes and trickling down my face make my thoughts turn paranoid, as if secretly mascara was running down my cheeks, and that cute boy in first period just so happened to be looking out the window of his car as he passed by on his way to school. Zipping my backpack shut quickly, I toss it back over my shoulder and skip off of the curb before hustling across the street, careful to flip my hair so that it lands perfectly in case that special someone from school notices me walking.
I settle into a walking rhythm, slide my phone back into my right jean pocket, along with my chap stick, then deposit my lip gloss into my right jacket pocket. I pull the bobby pins out of my hair and smooth the fine strands with my fingers before re-pinning them. Dispersed street lamps cast puddles of tangerine colored light onto patches of road, but they are few and far between. Cars driving at me will momentarily illuminate my features in bright light, and I wonder if they notice me, but other than that they do not bother me. I always walk on the left shoulder, nothing but a white stripe and half a foot dividing me from oncoming traffic.
Unconsciously, my fingers comb through my hair once more before returning it so that half lies over each shoulder, then stretch upwards. They interlock as I press my palms up towards the sky and I feel a yawn forcing my jaw to open. I lock my elbows and form the Y in YMCA song we used to sing in elementary school. My throat open in a silent roar, I drop my hands out to the sides, parallel to the ground like an eagle. A sudden gust of wind stirs up my hair, headlights illuminate my face, and I feel before I see the car, its momentum creating a torpedo of air shooting for me. Before I can dive out of the way, my outstretched fist connects with the dashboard, the pain like a blinding flash of white, up my arm and pooling into my shoulder white-hot. The sick sensation of bones grinding together reverberates in my shoulder and a feeling almost like a sound; a faint pop as my arm twists behind me shudders through my nervous system. Pain like one million skewers piercing my skin is all I’m aware of. The world goes silent. I am lifted off of my feet and thrown into the air, an invisible sucker punch to the gut.

Cold, wet, dizzy, and confused, I crumple my brow at the excruciating pain in my head. For a fleeting moment I don’t know where I am, or how I got here, like waking up in a different bed then usual. Then pain washes over me, and I’m aware of something warm oozing down the side of my face. I lie strewn in a muddy gutter, rocks digging into my body and muddy water lapping at the side of my face. There is so much pain that a kind of numbness washes over me. I remember the car. I remember being suspended in the air, then falling. I must have blacked out for a moment just as I hit. I sit up and the pain intensifies, scrapes cover the right side of my body and I think my cheek is bleeding; the pain is so vivid, so consuming, that I gasp for air. Stunned, I sit in the gutter, unaware of the putrid water seeping into my clothes. I was going to be late for school. I try to reach for the edge of the gutter with my right arm but I can only lift it one centimeter before the pain coursing through my muscles make it drop of its own accord and I find myself panting for breath. With my left arm I reach up and pull myself out clumsily, half crawling. I gaze back down at my backpack lying in the gutter, my brain clouded and foggy from the dizziness and nausea from standing upright, but can’t bring myself to get it back out. I need help I think to myself as the effort of not collapsing right there on the side of the road once more makes me wince.

Taking a step, a knife of smoldering pain shoots up my skeleton from ankle, to knee, and finally resting in the hip. My hip drops and my other foot stutters forward to catch my weight. My vision is hazy and the trees are spinning, every car like its swerving out of control on the road before me. Every step is like stepping on a bed of nails while a sledgehammer drives a wedge between my eyebrows. My hands shake and I reach up to brush my hair out of my face but something sticky meets it, and my face starts to sting. I hold it out in front of me to see blood smeared upon it, and suddenly I sense the dusty tang of salty blood swirling in my nostrils. I fall to my knees as my brain throbs and I can no longer walk in a straight line. The pain is like a cleaver, slicing into my head. The slick concrete feels cool against my face. I don’t even try to move my right arm, just curl my knees into my chest and squeeze my eyes shut, trying to block out everything. Dark clouds envelop my brain, and sleep’s velvet fingers stroke my aching body, murmuring sweet nothings into my ringing ears.

My brow starts to relax, and I begin to fall into a kind of sleep that is so dark and deep that I feel I may never wake. A passing car zooms through a puddle, only inches away from me. The foul water leaps through the air like a jaguar, splattering my face and sliding, bitter, into my mouth. I sit up spluttering and spitting. Immediately my head is sliced open once more with pain, and I nearly fall over backwards, but adrenaline kicks in and I see what needs to be done. My skull is full of smoke and mirrors but an animal instinct inside me leads me forward. I hop, limp, and drag my limbs, almost like a crawling motion on two feet, as I motor west along the side of the road. School is just ahead, I can see it, and now that I’m moving I can’t stop. The pain fades everything else away, cars pass, houses pass, and somewhere between one millionth of a second and a thousand years later I find myself crossing the street into safe territory. My body hurts all over, I feel grimy from blood, but there is a war going on in my mind. The pain is all in my head, but it will fade; I just need to keep moving. My arm hangs limply by my side and somewhere in the back of my head I know I look insane, but I just got hit by a car. I just got hit by a car. The hallways are deserted. The only thing I can think about is finding help, and my feet lead me to first period.

I can’t lift my arm. I can’t open the door right in front of me. I just can’t do it. My body has accomplished its task; it won’t take one more step. The edges of my vision blur, my brain clouds over, and before I black out my eyes see the ground hurtling up to meet me.

I awake in an ambulance, disappointed that I wasn’t in the cute boy’s arms.

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