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One Split Second
One Split Second
I am on my way to the Spelling Bee. I spent months preparing for this. First, I won at my school. Then, I won in the region. Now, I am on my way to states.
The day is cold and wet. I hear the splattering of rain on the roof of the car and watch the raindrops race down my window. The heat of the air feels suffocating, but I might just be nervous. I try to relocate my thoughts to my situation. What if I win? What if I don’t? It feels so long ago that I was readying myself for this. I think back to everything I learned and my mind goes blank. Why can’t I remember? What are they going to ask me? All these thoughts race through my head and suddenly my mind is clouded and I can’t think.
“Okay, spell circumlocution,” my dad says with a smirk.
Oh, right, we’re still playing that game. My dad and I always played little spelling games in the car to pass the time. This time, though, we aren’t playing. My dad is helping me practice for the objective before me.
I spell the word for him and he says I got it right. Great. So, he gives me more and I keep getting it right. I can do this. My worried thoughts begin to escape and I let myself relax.
The rain pounds harder, now. It hits the roof each time with a snap and it all happens so quickly that I have to shout over it. I feel like I heard thunder, and push the thought aside. It’s just the obnoxious rain. It is falling faster now and I am having trouble seeing the road before me.
The car in front of us is swerving to the left. They keep swerving. The car splashes water our way and now we can’t see a thing, but my dad keeps driving straight. The car leans onto the grass, hits the guardrail and starts spinning… in the other direction. With every whirl of the car I feel my head spin. The car is heading our way now. The car keeps splashing water on us and the sound of the rain doesn’t help.
I can see the look on my dad’s face. He knows he has to save his little girl. He knows he has one split second to save the both of us, but he doesn’t know if that’s possible. I am sitting in the back with my seatbelt on. My dad is sitting in the front, facing the heading car. This car is old; it has no airbags. He only has one split second.
The windshield clears up enough for me to see that the car is right in front of us now. He only has one split second. I watch my dad pull the emergency break and swerve to the right. I don’t see what happens next. I hit my head on something hard. Everything goes black.
The girl is sitting at the counter of the ice cream shop. She is about 5. Her curly brown hair is pulled back into a braid. Her blue-green eyes shimmer with delight. She plays with the skirt of her pink dress and Mary Janes. The girl looks down at the menu.
“Can I get a milkshake?” she asks.
The man next to her shakes his head and she orders Mac n’ Cheese, her favorite food. The girl waits a bit and smiles. She sneaks up to the man and tickles him and she laughs. He laughs with her and lifts her up off of him. He says something to her and she giggles. The man looks at her with a knowing glance and asks her a question. She shakes her head no. The waitress comes over and greets the girl with a smile. She’s a regular. The waitress hands her the Mac n’ Cheese and a lemonade.
“It’s on me,” the waitress says.
The girl sips the lemonade and starts shoving down the Mac n’ Cheese. She finishes in about a minute and asks the man, “Milkshake now?”
He nods his head and orders it for the girl. The girl lets out a huge smile as soon as it arrives and the man chuckles. The girl feels guilty about the man not getting any food and offers some to him.
“No, thank you,” the man says.
She frowns and offers it again. He takes a sip and she smiles, satisfied with herself. As soon as the girl is done, the man walks over to the jukebox and plays her favorite song. They dance. The girl looks up at the man and smiles. “Thanks, Daddy,” she says.
I wake up to a blinding light. People crowd around me, but I can’t recognize the faces. I hear words, but I can’t put together sentences. I still am trying to gather what just happened. The girl is me. I am the girl. I was just in a car accident and the man was my dad. Where is my dad? I sit up suddenly, and look around frantically at all of the unfamiliar faces. I recognize my family. I ignore them. I know they are safe, my dad is my priority right now.
I try to ask where he is, but my mouth can’t form words. I try to listen for his name, but my ears feel blocked. I look around for any sign of him, but still I see nothing. All I can think about is my dad. My mind becomes clouded again as confused thoughts rush in and out of my head. All of them asking the same question:Where is my dad?
People rush out of the room as doctors do all sorts of tests to make sure I’m not seriously injured. I’m fine, but where is my dad? I sit up and walk to the bathroom and step in front of the mirror. There is a huge bandage above my right eye. That is where I hit my head. I lift the bandage. I got stitches.
I leave the bathroom and roam the hallways. I poke my head around the corners and search immediately. Doctors are telling me to head back to my room.
“It’s not a good idea,” they all say.
I ignore them. I feel fine. I continue walking around and give up. He’s gone. I head back to my room with teary eyes. He’s gone.
I look up and notice a room I missed. I poke my head inside. I look at the patient in a wheelchair. They say something I can’t understand. I lean in closer and notice something. I recognize the dark hair, the green eyes, the olive skin. And in one split second, all my fear vanished away. "Dad?"