“Dad, please, let me go!” the child whined incessantly. “I promise, I’ll be safe!”
“I’ve already answered this question, Tavik,” I answered back, sighing into my newspaper. My wife, apron-clad, brought me a cup of coffee, staring at me with reprimanding eyes.
“Why won’t you let me go? Nothing will happen!” the child whined over his bowl of Fruit Loops.
“Let him go,” my wife said to me, looking at me in the eyes. “Just let him do it this once.”
“No!” I responded forcefully. “I’m going to drive you to school, like we do every morning, and that’s final!” I glared at my wife and kid. Tavik hung his head and pouted, while my wife shook her head and went upstairs to change into her work clothes. I took a sip of coffee, and went back to reading The Journal Sentinel. Hearing a stomping of feet, I looked up to see my son slam an empty cereal bowl into the sink, and storm into his room. I could see his chocolate eyes, glistening and leaky, before the door shut before him. I took a deep breath, and exhaled heavily, sliding my glasses up and massaging where the last laid on the bridge of my nose. It’s like I can’t do anything right in this family.
I sat in the car, checking the time on the dashboard. The “Check Brake” light was on. I made a mental note to get that checked later. A slamming door interrupted my thoughts. Tavik, slouched and gloomy, trudged out of the garage door. When he saw me out on the road, and his new, two-wheeled, blue racers bike replacing where the car usually stood in the driveway, his face broke out into a look of confusion. He then looked at me, his face breaking out into a look of radiating joy. He hopped on the bike, and pedaled towards me. Rolling down my passenger window, I motioned for him to stop next to the car. He slowed down, and stopped by the window. “I’m going to follow behind you in my car, ok?” His face fell a little bit, but he nodded, and started biking in front of me. I followed him slowly, making sure he was staying safe. Oh, the Torres’ planted new flowers, I noted to myself, looking around at the houses. I looked back at the road, and immediately noticed an absence of a child riding a bike.
I looked through the rear windshield to find that for some reason, Tavik had turned right, where I had gone straight. Why is he taking the long way to school? I pulled into a driveway, and turned back to follow him. Once I caught he began to pedal faster, picking up speed as we approached the hill. I started speeding up to catch up with him. “Slow down!” I yelled through the window. “The road is going downhill soon!” He looked at me through the window for a fleeting second, then looked back at the road. Rather than listen to what I said, he picked up speed, bulleting down the hill. Suddenly, the sidewalk ended, and merged with the road. I tried to yell at him to slow down, but my efforts were to no avail. Out of nowhere, the bike bumped over a rock, and suddenly he lost control. The front tire swerved to the left, and before he could twist the handles back straight, the bike had rolled on to the road. The bike hit another rock, this time causing the tire to slip slightly, toppling the bike over with him on it. He fell off the bike, projecting him forward, and right in front of me. One second he was peacefully riding on the sidewalk, and the next he was laying on the road in front of my car, his wide, eight year old eyes staring down my headlights. I slammed the brakes, but the car kept going, until I felt the sickening crunch of the child’s body crashing against the giant metal beast. The impact of the hit propelled Tavik to the side of the road, where it lay in a crumpled heap. I pumped the brakes vigorously, until finally the car came to a halt at the end of the hill. I got out of the car, and sprinted to where he lay, panic and shock coursing through my veins. Despite the impact, my car had no marks or dents in it. I knelt next to Tavik, and laid my index and middle fingers on his wrist, feeling for any pulsing. To my relief, I felt a faint beating. “Don’t worry Tavik, you’ll be fine, I’ll get you to hospital.” He opened his eyes, looking at me with those young brown eyes. He said nothing. One of the residents of the street had been watering some plants in her front yard, and had seen the whole thing. She rushed back into her house, and emerged clutching a cell phone. She rushed to us, a panicked look on her face. I looked at her, and she thrust the phone in my hands. “This is 911, please name your emergency,” a male voice said to me through the phone.
“I need an ambulance right now!” I yelled into the receiver.
“Sir, please, remain calm. We will send one now, please name your location.”
“We are on the Ravenwood Drive, right off of Lisbon,” I responded, looking at the street signs. “Please, be quick,” I begged.
“We’ll do the best we can, sir.” the phone beeped three times, signaling an ended call. I gave the phone back to the woman, where she stood, slightly distancing herself, not sure what to do. I knelt with Tavik, stroking his cheek with my thumb. He looked back at me with wide eyes, his body unmoving.
* * * * * *
Tavik lay on the hospital bed, wires running through him like electric cables, regulating his vitals. I sat next to him, holding his hand. The silence was was interrupted by a door handle turning. The doctor walked into the room, clipboard in hand. He looked at Tavik lying on the bed, and shook his slightly. “What are the results?” I asked, rising out of my seat, still holding Tavik’s hand. “It’s not looking too goo-”
“What are they?” I demanded.
The doctor looked at me for a second, then resumed. “He lost a lot of blood. However, the transfusion will replenish his blood supply, so he’s fine with that. He broke 3 ribs, his right Ulna, both the Ulna and Radius in his left arm, and his left Tibia and Fibula.” The doctor paused for a second. “His C1 through C5 vertebrae are shattered as well.” I sank into my seat, clutching my head, fingers running through my hair. “As you may know,” the doctor continued, “this results in paralysis from the neck down, and loss of speech. Tavik will be able to hear, but not talk. He will require 24 hour care, and will be wheelchair bound for the rest of his life.” While the doctor was speaking, a droplet formed at the cusp on Tavik’s eyelid, swelling in size, until it leaked out, sliding down his smooth, brown cheek.
“Can I have a minute, please?” I choked, my voice cracking.
“Of course,” The doctor responded quietly. He slid out of the door, closing it quietly behind him. I leaned back in my seat, and let out a long, deep sigh. All Tavik wanted to do was ride his bike, his new two-wheeler, and now he will be stuck in two wheels for the rest of his life. The door suddenly flung open, and my wife, hair askew, clothes disheveled, stood at the opening. Upon seeing her son in the bed, hooked up to the wires, unmoving, she broke down crying. She rushed to his side, tears streaking down her face. “The doctors told me,” she sobbed as I joined her side, holding her. She leaned into my shoulder, and my sleeve darkened in color where her face lay. She looked at me, eyes blurry and distorted, lips quivering, and nose red. “How did this happen?” she asked.
I looked into her face, then looked at Tavik. “I was driving behind him,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper. “He swerved in front me. He was going too fast.” I closed my eyes and bit my lip. “A car was coming in the other direction. It didn’t stop. After it hit him, it drove away.”
I opened my eyelids, and found Tavik’s hard, brown eyes staring at me.