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It had been a day just like this; I remember the way the wind had waved its way through my hair. Even if it is much shorter now; it still lifted it up, each strand delicately balanced on an invisible force.
I remember the way the snow was just beginning to melt; ice hiding underneath it; watching; waiting. I heard the familiar squeal of brakes and the shunt of the car engine as the driver tried furiously to control it. I listened as the tyres grated across the uneven ground; up onto the verge; and then became silent, except for the wind they created as they span without cause.
I could see them; still sat in the car. The father was unconscious in the front seat; the air bag only just deflating, sending his head backwards into the head rest. If he wasn’t already injured; he would be now.
The child; probably only about 7, looked daze; a line of blood was already running down the side of her face, but she didn’t care. Her eyes were focused on the face of her mother; yes I used past tense; it’s obvious from the way her body is twisted; from the way those eyes are so empty; so glassed over; so haunting.
The natural instinct in me to run and help kicked into action; and despite me knowing that my help wouldn’t be needed, I couldn’t help the adrenaline that rushed through me. By now other cars had stopped, their tyres skidding in the ice, as they came across the accident.
As people brushed past me, racing for the car; I knew that going any closer would be pointless, but I had to; I had to see what happens. As people began screaming to one another, to “call for help” and “get the little girl out of there”, I placed both my hands onto the car window, where the father sat.
His head was slumped to the side, facing me. I could see the cuts in his otherwise perfect skin; they were deep and looked painful, but I knew he couldn’t feel them. People ignored me and just moved around me without even realising.
His eyes were closed and the wrinkles which had been forming; seemed to face away as he found peace. I could feel the ice beneath my hands, as it started to collect on the windows; the freezing temperatures only making the rescue more important.
I whispered a “goodbye” to him; knowing his life was over. At least; I suppose; he seemed peaceful.
The car looked awful, the front end was missing; the metal work twisted. What was the engine was now mangled. Wheels span in the air, as the car remained half hanging in the air; half on the icy lake.
Rescuers called to the little girl, telling her to jump; be brave and just; jump. She was frightened; I could practically feel her fear. She had managed to get her door open; but there was a long jump into the nearest strangers’ arms.
And more importantly; she didn’t’ want to leave her parents behind. Her mum still hadn’t moved; she’d tried shaking her shoulder, calling her name and very soon this little girl was in tears. She matured beyond her age in that second as it dawned on her why they weren’t responding, why her mother’s eyes were just staring and not blinking. She knew that moment would never leave her; she knew that she would never let go of this moment; of them.
She screamed silently as the car shifted. Rescuers jumped back; some of the woman screaming. The men began shouting at the girl, she backed up into the far end of the car; causing it to shift again. She could see the icy lake more clearly now.
She could see the way the icy water was beginning to swell above its icy barricade. The front end of the car dipped into the water. The little girl gasped, I watched as her face twisted into the shape of panic.
The scary men still screamed at her, the woman were still screaming; her mother still stared blankly at her. She didn’t know what to do and so I knew I had to do something. the world was rushing around her and nothing made sense. She pulled her coat tighter to her and shuddered as the icy wind wrapped round her; lifting strands of her long hair into the air.
She was in shock; she was frozen; she needed to be resuced. I’d seen it done before, so knew what I would have to do.
I stood just behind the crowd that had formed, the dark red car, with its wheels no longer spinning, was nearly at a 180 degree angle to the floor. I knew I didn’t have long. Taking a running jump, I soared above the crowd’s heads and into the car. My landing wasn’t perfect and I’m sure I aided to the weighing down of the car.
In her eyes, I saw my own. Her long brown hair hung over her shoulders, her small form was huddled into her seat; fear and pain in her eyes. I sat quietly for a moment and just watched her; remembering that day.
“Go to them.” I whispered, “Get out of the car and go to safety.” Her small eyes flickered towards her parents; tears blurring her eyesight. “I will stay with them, they will never be alone.” I promised quietly, gripping the seat tightly as the car sunk slightly further.
The girl shifted towards me, her body shook with the cold and the tears ran down her face without stopping. I pulled my feet up onto the seat, letting her scoot past. She took one last look at me; one last look that would haunt her forever; before she jumped out of the car; landing into the open arms of the awaiting crowd; before being whisked to a safe distance.
Her eyes remained on the car, remained on me. She raised her hand to her forehead; only just noticing the blood. I repeated the action; running my hand across an old scar.
A load crack signalled the moment I remembered. Eager to remain in this moment longer than ever before; I turned away from her; it was always her eyes that took me away.
Turning to the two people in the front seat, I settled myself in my old seat, putting on my seat belt. I looked at my mother’s open eyes as the car began to slide forward. “Good bye mum.” I whispered as the car slammed through the ice, water rushing in through my mouth and nose; choking me as we went deeper; it was cold; so cold; my fingers felt stiff and my body felt weak as I slowly sank into the depths.
And then the pressure all disappeared and I resurfaced; taking in a huge lungful of air. I wiped my eyes and mouth off as I sat up; tears already collecting in my eyes. I turned to the clock that sat beside my bathtub; 2.15 minutes. That’s how long I’d been under for; a record; a turning point.
I got out of the bath, wrapping the towel around my shuddering body. The tears still fell, but I didn’t care. I caught my reflection in the mirror and couldn’t help but see the resemblance of both my parents in me; of the little girl I once was.
For some reason, I felt different to every other time I had tried to induce flash backs to the day my parents died; I felt less empty; less pained than normal. Pain had rendered me useless for the past 10 years; pain had stopped me from loving; from trusting. But I realised now, I had broken it's hold over me.
From looking away from who I used to be; from what I lost, I finally said goodbye to the two people I loved the most.
I said goodbye so that I could have a new start; I said goodbye because I knew they were at peace; so why shouldn’t I be?