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Whenever The Packers play The Vikings my brother insists that we watch the game at Mayville’s only sports bar. I was kind of grateful to get out of the house, even if it was to watch a football game. Jeb was already waiting in the car as I closed the front door. It was pouring rain and I was about to get soaked. I ran to the passenger side of the car as fast as I could. “Man it’s really pouring out, isn’t it?”
He reached behind me as he looked out the back window, making sure we were good to back out. “We’re due for a good rain. It’s been weeks! Put on one of my mix CDs, will you?” Jeb always jammed out to his music. It was funny watching him belt out the lyrics. My brother and I weren’t the closest in the world, but we always got along regardless.
I looked out the window. It was getting pretty dark out, but I could still make out the trees. The streetlights were making a pattern on the wet roads — if you squinted it almost looked like the 4th of July. Jeb was talking to me, but being distracted I didn’t hear him. Tapping my shoulder, he repeated himself. “Ave, I saidddd whose your bet on?”
Tearing my eyes from the window, I faced him and said “The Packers, no question.”
“You’re going down little bro, Vikings all the way!” I laughed as he punched my arm. With how hard it was raining, I wondered if Old Man Joe’s was going to be packed or not. Then Jeb interrupted, “The one thing Mayville has running for itself, besides the trees and small town feel, is the fact that you can go 60mph to get basically anywhere, and no cops are around to stop you.” I nodded. I had to agree, it was a plus to a small town.
We were going up a hill; halfway up my ears popped as they always do. Even though it was dark out, I knew we were near Mr. Gordon’s farm. It was a weird feeling — knowing exactly where you were just from a hill.
We were nearly to the bar as we approached the intersection. We were still a good distance away as the light turned green, but we were going to make it, no problem. We were in the middle of the intersection when I looked at Jeb. That’s when I saw the headlights. All I could do was scream.
I couldn’t hear anything. My ears were ringing slightly. Everything was white, and I was standing alone. Wait, I don’t remember going to sleep, how am I dreaming? Something wasn’t right. I turned around and saw a parked car, its headlights flashed on, blinding me for a second. Then I heard a dinging noise, and there was something that smelled like smoke and burning rubber. And then I remembered.
I opened my eyes and a cough escaped my lungs, I couldn’t see anything but my body didn’t feel right. Intense pain was piercing my left leg. I let out a scream. Trying to focus on anything but the pain, I turned my head. I could feel the rain falling on my cheek, but I couldn’t see the sky . . . the rain was splashing IN. Puddles were where the stars should be, the car was upside down. I didn’t notice the pressure on my chest until that moment, my seatbelt was holding me up. “Jeb”. . . I tried to turn my body but I couldn’t seem to move. “Jeb!” I could barley turn my head. In the corner of my eye, I could see Jeb was being held up too, but . . . “Jeb . . . Jeb wake up. We got hit by a car, Jeb.” That’s when I saw the blood. “Jebidiah, please,” I begged. “JEB! SOMEBODY HELP US!” I tried moving again, only to feel unbearable pain. It was blinding. I felt nauseous. And everything went white.
There were muted voices . . . “Can you hear my voice? I need you to try and focus on my voice.” I could barely make out what they were saying . . . there was a siren too . . . where am I?
“I need you to open your eyes, kid.” Coming to, I opened my eyes—vision blurred. A man was standing over me, shoving a needle in my arm. “Good. Good job. Can you tell me your name?”
I coughed, but managed to answer. “Avery . . . Avery Aimes. My brother, Jeb—” he cut me off there, saying
“Avery, I need you to relax and try to stay calm. You need to focus on your breathing. I’m going to give you a sedative for the pain. Everything is going to be okay.” His voice was fading out, but I think I heard him say “surgery” before I was completely gone.
We were in the car again. A good distance away from the intersection as the light turned green. Jeb was sitting next to me and he was fine, “NO!” I yelled at him to stop. I tried, but he couldn’t hear me. Then the car hit us and everything went black for just a moment.
We were in the car again, and I could see the light turn green ahead. “Jeb . . .” Every time the car hit, the dream restarted. I must’ve had the same dream over 50 times. The accident played over and over and over . . . I was trapped inside the horrible memory, living every second on repeat. I tried to warn Jeb in every way I could think of. I tried to turn the wheel . . . I even tried hitting him to see if he would snap out of it. But nothing worked. It was as if I was a ghost in my own dream. Eventually I sat, and cried—telling Jeb how much I loved him. Until I finally woke up in a cold sweat.
I opened my eyes and saw my mom in the chair next to my bed. I was in a hospital room. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. It smelled of old people and plastic.
“Mom” I said. Tears pooled in her eyes. My dad was in the room too. He began to sob and walked over. Grabbing a wad of my hair, he leaned down and kissed my forehead. As they both cried over me, I knew: Jebidiah didn’t make it.
“Jeb . . . he—” the words came from my mouth, but they sounded foreign. My mom squeezed my hand and looked down, silently crying. My dad spoke his voice higher than usual and said,
“He’s gone . . . Jeb died as soon as the car hit.”
My throat got tight and I didn’t fight back the tears. I turned my head so my mom wouldn’t see. There was a T.V. on. It was muted, tuned in to the sports channel in the corner of the room. I saw that The Vikings had won the game. My stomach clenched. My eyes stung and my vision blurred, as I realized I would never be able to bet on another game with my brother. Ever again. And although the monitor reading my heart rate didn’t stop, all I could feel was mine breaking in two.