I was watching Doctor Who when I got the call. Typically I don’t answer random numbers, but recently my mom had been calling me through her work phone so I thought it would be her. I remember their first words clearly.
“Hello, this was the first number on the phone. Your father’s been in a car accident.” My heart dropped to my stomach and my laughter from only moments ago turned into terror. I looked up at the television screen as I held the phone to my ear, but it was blurry. Suddenly, everything went hazy and all I could do was force my feet out of bed. My older sister was home so I dragged myself to the room she was still sleeping in.
It felt like I was watching all of this happen from the outside. Another person’s legs were moving under me. I asked questions, but all I got back were a few words, “Car backed up into a boy...” “Unconscious...” “Haven’t called the hospital...” What I did comprehend was that these people weren’t friendly. The call, which I assumed was from a person helping the situation, was really a threat. The more they spoke, the more my eyes burned and the heavier every movement I made became. I reached the room and shook my sister awake, I probably looked frantic because she immediately sat up when she saw my face.
“What happened? What’s going on?” she nodded toward my cellphone.
“D-Dad got into a car accident. They won’t take him to the hospital. They say he hit a kid with the car. T-They beat him up.” I just passed the phone to her as she took a deep breath and spoke.
“Hello?” she got up and I only heard her end of the conversation. “Yes, it’s gray.” “Yes, that’s my dad, he was wearing a red shirt.” I could hear her trying to be civil with the man speaking on the other end. She moved to the living room and I went to go wake up my brother in his room. We live in a shared apartment with our uncle and aunt. My uncle came out of their room before I could go to my brother’s. He saw how distressed we were and concern flooded him.
My sister explained what was going on. “They want money now. They said they want $2000.” She was more than willing to go give them the money too. She was getting her boots on but my uncle was more dubious.
“No, we should just hang up the phone and call the cops,” he said.
“If I hang up the phone or they hear any mention of cops, they’ll kill him. I’m just going to give them the money and settle this. It’s safer.”
They kept arguing over this point but I was unfocused. By this time, my brother and aunt were awake. My aunt was just trying to comfort us throughout this. She held me as I felt tears run down my face. I looked over at my brother but he was in shock. He was just staring forward, trying to process what was going on. We all decided that calling my mom wasn’t the best bet since that would do more harm than good. She was at work and if we told her what was going on, she’d probably rush out and get into an accident herself.
Again, I can’t get in check with the reality of the situation, even though nothing has ever seemed more dire. It’s as if I was watching it all happen through a foggy window. I tuned back into the argument between my sister and uncle.
“I’m not going to hang up,” my sister was getting livid. However, the phone was in my uncles hands, and before she could stop him, he ended the call.