The Wreck

January 3, 2012
Lights flashing, sirens echoing everywhere. The sound pulsed in her head like a throbbing headache, and then she came to again. Broken glass everywhere, people crying. She could hear shrieking in the background. But the only thing Rosalie could concentrate on was the man standing in front of her in a blue uniform. “We have a wreck on Road 219. Four teenage girls in a 2003 Silver Cavalier, possible drunk driver, possible death.” Rosalie froze. Possible death? This wasn't possible. She thought of her three best friends that was in the car with her; Haley, Ashley, and Laney. This was not possible. Rosalie tried to turn her body, but she couldn't move.

The walls felt like they were closing in on her. People everywhere. Doctors, nurses, police officers, frantic family members and friends. Rosalie tried to sit up. “No, Honey, lie back down. You're okay,” one of the nurses said. Tears began filling Rosalie's eyes. “ I want my mom,” she whispered.

Ashley sat up in the hospital bed. Her parents were at her side, still panicked and shook up from the accident. Ashley had heard the doctors whispering. What she got from the conversation, was that Haley had been killed. Ashley was surprised that she had not broke down sobbing yet, but her body was in too much shock. She thought about what they had done before the wreck. There had been a party at Jason's house. He was a senior, and he was known for having killer house parties. The four girls had went over and drank quite a bit before leaving again. Rosalie had been driving; Haley in the front passenger seat. Just then, Ashley began to sob. Tears spilling down her cheeks, crying so loud that it felt like it shook the entire room. Three nurses entered her room, and one gave her a shot in the arm. Ashley felt her body getting heavy, and unconsciousness took her away.

Rosalie lied in bed. So confused. Her mother had made it to the hospital. She sat in a chair by her daughter's bed, holding her hand. Rosalie could not stop crying. Although she was 18, she was terrified like a little girl. “Mommy, are they okay?” She asked. Jennifer held her daughter's hand and looked her in the eyes, “Everything is going to be okay.” She relaxed a little bit. “How is everyone?” She asked. But before Jennifer could answer this awful question, a police officer entered the room.

“Hi Rosalie. I'm Officer Williams. How are you doing?” The officer asked. Rosalie stared at him for a minute. Then she began to cry again, remembering the horrible thing that had just happened, and how her life would be changed forever.

It had been a couple days later when Ashley was discharged from the hospital. Rosalie was still there for her awful injuries, Laney still lied in her hospital bed unconscious, and Haley's body lied in the morgue somewhere, rotting away. The last thing Ashley wanted to do was go home and go to school, pretending like everything was okay. Her parents and her siblings acted like they knew how she felt, but they didn't. Eyes followed her everywhere she went. The sympathetic stares that she got reminded her of how her life had drastically changed in the blink of an eye.

After having three more shots, and four more nurses come into her room, Rosalie finally settled down to go to sleep, when her mom walked in the room with a newspaper. “Rose, I don't want to upset you, but your wreck is on the front page of the paper,” Jennifer said as she handed it to her. Rosalie looked at the picture of the familiar car; totaled and distorted. In big letters the caption read, “Three injured, One dead.” Rosalie began to puddle into tears again. This had become the normal thing for her in the past two days. She couldn't even tell when she started and stopped crying anymore. She thought of Haley and her family. How were they doing since Haley had died? She hadn't heard from them. In fact, she hadn't heard from anyone except Ashley, who had been released that morning. Rosalie threw the paper onto the table beside her. “I should really get some sleep,” she told her mother, hoping she would leave. Instead, Jennifer sat on the bed beside her daughter. “I'm so glad you're okay. It could've been so much worse,” Jennifer said. Rosalie turned her head, wishing that it had been her.

Ashley sat up in her bed. She was soaked in sweat. Was she going to have nightmares for the rest of her life? She looked at the clock. 1:02 AM. She threw the covers off of her and tip-toed to her closet. She pulled the purple box out from the bottom. It was filled with tons of pictures from the previous summer and junior year of high school. The first picture was of her and Haley in their bikinis at the lake. Immediately, Ashley's eyes began filling with tears. Flipping through more pictures, finding some from parties and shopping trips, she came across a photo of the four girls, at one of the school football games. Laney was on the end, holding a pepsi, sticking out her tongue. Then it was Haley, with her arm around Laney. She looked so alive. Smiling, her blue eyes twinkling and her light brown hair like a waterfall down her back. Ashley was standing beside Haley. She had curled her hair that night. Then it was Rosalie. Her long, thick curls and her doe brown eyes. She was wearing Ashley's boots that she had let her borrow. Ashley stared at the picture. She wanted to keep it forever, but instead, she ripped the picture in half. Then she ripped it again and again, into smaller pieces. She kept asking herself why she was doing this, but on the inside she knew. The four girls in the picture would never be together again. There would never be another shopping trip, or late nights at Rosalie's house, or parties or football games together or anything they used to do together. Ashley took the remains of the picture and put it back in the purple box. She lied back down in bed, pulling the covers over her head, and drifted away to another world, alone with her thoughts.

It had been a week, and today was the day of Haley's funeral. Rosalie so badly wanted to go, but she knew she couldn't. Her leg was broken in six spots, her face was still cut pretty bad, and her blood pressure was still high. She lied there, thinking about the entire student body of Columbia High School being packed in a church, just for Haley. Rosalie had a few visitors at the hospital everyday, but she couldn't help but feeling hated. After all, the wreck was her fault, and there was nothing she could do to change it.

Ashley walked into the church. It was packed with so many mourners; people who wished they had one more minute with Haley. Ashley had went to the funeral with Brody, a senior that she had been seeing for two months. She did not want to be here, but she was expected to be. Haley had been her best friend, but the last thing she had expected was to go to her funeral. So many sympathetic stares, so many, “I'm so sorry this happened, Ashley's” that she could hardly stand it. The minister up front was speaking about Haley, about how God had taken her to a better place, when Ashley couldn't take it anymore. She stood up and rushed to the end of the church, throwing the double doors open. She burst outside into the cold air. It had started snowing again. She sat down on the cold cement steps and started sobbing. It hadn't been a minute when Brody showed up and sat down beside her, putting his arm around her. “It gets better from here, Ash,” Brody said. Of course it got better. There was no way it could be worse. Instead of acknowledging Brody's presence, Ashley stood up. She walked through the snow, past the parking lot, and across the street, without thinking.

Rosalie woke up to a nurse taking her blood pressure. “Guess what Rosalie? Looks like you're going home today,” the nurse said, smiling. She smiled back, but then she started to panic. How was she going to manage, knowing that Haley was gone, and Laney was in a coma? She hadn't really thought about these things until now. Going back to school would be hard. Everyone would watch her every move. Everyone would be quick to judge her.

Jennifer walked in with a big smile on her face. “Are you ready to go, Sweetie?” She asked. Rosalie grimaced. She was not ready to go home, and she was definitely not ready to face the real world. Just then, she thought of her volleyball coach; always telling her to try harder and give it her all. Rosalie had been a varsity volleyball player. She wondered if she would ever be able to play again. “Okay,” she sighed. “Let's go.”

Ashley watched her mom pour a cup of coffee for her. “Mom, I can do these things myself,” she said, getting irritated. Ever since the accident, Ashley's parents had been watching her like a hawk. Even while she was at school, her mom would text her every hour. Alana watched her daughter, wondering how the little girl she used to rock to sleep grew up to be such a beautiful and unbelievably strong young lady. Alana sat down across from Ashley, and hesitated to ask her the same question she did everyday. “Is there anything you wanna talk about?” Ashley looked at her mother. “No, I don't want to talk Mom. Leave me alone,” she said, standing up. “I'm here for you, Honey. Help me help you.” But instead of making a connection with her mother, Ashley opened the door, and waited outside for Brody to pick her up.

Alana sat back down at the kitchen table, wishing that she could help Ashley. But from now on, things would be different. Ashley would never really be the same Ashley.

It had been nearly a month since Rosalie was released from the hospital. She had adapted quickly to getting around at home and school. Her and Ashley rarely talked anymore. It hurt too much to think about that night. They waved at each other in the hallways, and sometimes saw each other around town, but they were no longer as close as they had been. Laney finally woke up from her coma. She was learning new words like sandwich and fork, and reading Cat And The Hat. Rosalie had totally isolated herself from the outside world. When she wasn't at school, she was in bed with the curtains pulled shut to keep her room dark. Haley's parents would not speak to her, nor look at her. She had a court date in two weeks, and she knew it would be the hardest think to go through yet.

Ashley sat at the police station, her stomach in knots. “Do you remember the night of the wreck, Ashley?” Officer Wyatt asked. “Yes,” she answered. “Tell me about it.” Ashley took a deep breath, “Me, Haley, Rosalie and Laney went to a party out in the country. We left at about two in the morning. We had all been drinking. We were in Rosalie's car. That's the last thing I remember.” Officer Wyatt rubbed his face and sighed. “Thank you, Ashley. You may leave now.” Ashley stood up and walked outside. It was February, and unseasonably warm outside. She walked to her dad's truck and got in. Her dad smiled at her. “Are you hungry, Princess?” He asked. “No, I just want to go home,” Ashley answered.

Rosalie woke up to the alarm buzzing on her phone. It was 7:15 AM. March 9, 2012. Her stomach began twisting in knots. Today was the day. She got up out of bed and took a shower, making the water as hot as possible, so that welts rose on her skin. She began getting ready in her towel, when Jennifer walked in. She was dressed in nice black pants and a white and red top. She offered her daughter a smile, although today was nothing to be smiling about. “Are you almost ready?” She asked. Rosalie curled the last piece of her hair, and then unplugged the curling iron. She looked at her mother for a second, choosing her words carefully, before answering. “After today, everything will be different.” Jennifer laughed, “No it won't, Honey. It's just a court date, everything is going to be fine.” Right. Just a court date. But everything would go far worse, than Jennifer could imagine.

Ashley arrived at the courthouse with her parents. It was 8:39. That meant that court started in 21 minutes. She could hardly stand the thought of knowing that she was about to testify against her used-to-be best friend. She had to tell the truth though, and the truth is what the court was going to get. Five minutes until nine, and everyone was rushed into the court room. Ashley sat quietly with her lawyer and her parents. She leaned over, “I think I'm going to throw up,” She told her lawyer. “Swallow it,” he instructed. “There is nothing worse than throwing up right before you're about to testify.” Ashley sat there, unmoving. And when Rosalie walked in, she couldn't help but start to cry. How could she go on? Why did they no longer speak when they both went through the same awful thing? And why was she testifying against Rosalie? Rosalie met Ashley's gaze. She did not smile, but only took her seat. And then, court began.

Ashley sat up on the stand, so nervous that the people in the court could probably notice her shaking. Her lawyer had promised that it would be easy and painless, but he was not Ashley, and he was not hurting. Her lawyer, Tom, walked up to the witness stand. “Ashley, do you remember what happened the night of January 16, 2012?” Ashley swallowed, trying to keep her voice steady. “Yes,” she managed to say. “Tell the court what happened,” Tom said.

“Rosalie, Haley, Laney and I went to a party out at Jason's house. There was alcohol there, and we had all been drinking.” Ashley stopped, trying so hard not to cry. “Go on,” Tom pressed, as he handed her a tissue.

“Around 2:00 in the morning, we decided to leave. Rosalie's mom wasn't at home, and we thought maybe we would stay at her house. We got ready to leave, and one of the guys at the party offered to drive us home.” “Why didn't you let him drive you home?” Tom asked. Ashley looked up, and looked Rosalie straight in they eyes. “Rosalie refused. She said that she was fine. She said that she wasn't drunk. Her house was only a few miles. But obviously she was drunk, that's why Haley's dead,” Ashley said. She regretted her words right away. She knew that Rosalie was hurt. But it was her fault. And Ashley would never forgive her. Rosalie began to cry, and shout horrible things at Ashley that she had never heard Rosalie say. Ashley stood up. “It's your fault!” She screamed at Rosalie. “And you know it!” Tom grabbed Ashley by the shoulders, “Ashley, sit down. This does not look good.” Ashley began crying as well, and she noticed Brody starting down the aisle, walked towards her. “Get your client under control,” the judge said to Tom. “I'm taking her off the stand,” Tom said as he grabbed Ashley by her arm and led her back to the table.

Three months, and six days after the car wreck, and it was finally over. Rosalie was sentenced to a prison for five years. Ashley graduated High School, and moved into an apartment with Brody. It wasn't the senior year that Ashley had imagined. She often dreamed about the wreck, every second of it. It was a nightmare that she wanted to forget so badly. But she knew that it was a part of her life now, and it had become a part of her.

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