Whistling winds breezed through and stole away our bubbles, while Tiara and I continually blew more and more to keep the steady stream going. Stooped on the front step, with greasy Lay’s Potato chips to snack on, we bantered back and forth over whose bubbles were bigger, and who could blow more. Considering I was already five and in kindergarten, and she remain a teeny three year old toddler, I was always right. My bubbles were bigger and most definitely better. With the sun hanging low, and our bubbles running out, I curiously suggested we go play in Nana’s car. I quickly glance a hurried, almost guilty look at the rusted old car, nearly disintegrating into the hill it lie stationed upon. With its questionably green color and its more than ugly appearance, I decide that it is alright to play in, and that we’re only going to play for a little while. That way Mommy and Nana wouldn’t come out and see us. A quiet voice in the back of my head whispers that this is wrong…Nana would be mad. Stubbornly, I force that thought out of my head, abandon our crispy/greasy snack, grab Tiara’s oily chubby fingers, and skip on over and to go play in Nana’s car. After all, Mommy and Nana were all cooped up in the house preparing dinner. Tonight, Mommy had promised, she would make us dinner and we’d all eat together. And some night it would be. So I climb my superior, bossy self into the driver’s seat, as Tiara’s “younger sister trusting instincts” begin to kick in. She scrambles up onto the worn away passenger seat and claims her spot as passenger driver. Finally the game begins as we take turns jumping over the middle compartment and sharing each others rolls. Giggling and squealing as I push my imaginary key into the ignition, I mime my tiny hands to mimic what Mommy and Nana do when they drive. I turn the wheel back and forth and feel excitement and power course through my three and a half foot frame. In my own imaginary world, I suddenly hear Tiara whining “Come onnn Cedes. It’s my turn now!” Agitatedly, I switch up roles and scramble over the compartment to give her a chance as “the grownup”. She shrieks with delighted laughter and tries to copy my every move. “Look at me, Cedes! Look at me! I’m driving the car, I’m driving the car,” she chants. I jealously look over at her, after glancing at the house to make sure no one was coming, and urgently declare that it’s my turn again. She argues back that I had gotten a longer turn, and how I’m so unfair. I fix her with my evil glare and exclaim, “I’m older, Tiara! It’s my turn NOW. Move over, get out of the seat Tiaraaa!” She scrunches up her face and begins to pout with the oh-so-annoyingly sad face. I promise her that I’ll give her a longer time as “the grownup” for her next turn, and she smiles that all too cute and innocently beautiful smile. This time I decide to make the game even more fun as I naively push down the clutch with all my might. Not more than a millisecond later, as Tiara and I sit criss-cross-apple-sauce in our designated seats, does the car begin to clumsily roll on down that monstrous hill. I hurriedly glance a frantic look at Tiara’s horrified face, which I could only imagine was an exact replica of mine. Searching her face for an answer of what we should do, the first thing that pops into my mind is that yes, we are dead meat after all. With absolutely nothing coming to mind, and my pulse sky-rocketing to an imaginable speed, I yell to her, “Quick, Tiara! You NEED to jump out the other door!” She just stares back at me with a mixture of horror and confusion plastered on her face. Now she has climbed down into the tiny foot space below the passenger side. For protection? Who knows. “Tiara! I’m jumping out this side, you gotta’ open that door and jump out! Okay, Tiara? Just open it and jump!” My trembling body and more than shaky hand go to grasp for the door handle. I push with all my might at the door and am instantly even more fearful, yet relieved, when the rusty door springs open. My once oh-so-confident being is diminished to a petrified baby in one quick instant. I take one last longing look at Tiara and know that I have to jump. Not that I feel as though I have a decision, for I could never face what would happen if I stayed in the car. I glance down at the speeding asphalt and adrenaline courses through my body. With one hand stationed on the top ledge of the flailing door, and my other grasping on for dear life to the roof of the car, I take one last deep breath, and jump out of the constantly growing speed of the car. My body hits the ground like a ton of bricks and automatically starts rolling and scraping across the rocky cement. When I come to an abrupt, almost unexpected stop, I’m gasping for air and I’m afraid to move. With frightened thoughts of Tiara, I jump to my feet and am horrified at the nightmarish image. Nana’s car, Nana’s rusted/old car, Nana’s car that she could never ever afford to fix up in the first place, heading straight for a filled parking lot of cars WITH TIARA IN IT! Quickly glancing down at my own damage, I instantly asses the blood flowing down my calves from my scraped knees, with my shredded and already starting to bruise palms. With my elbows stinging, and my ripped and disheveled t-shit flowing in the wind, I screech across the miniscule dead front lawn, “Mommaayyyy!” and start charging down the hill towards my innocently (perhaps dead?!?!????) baby sister. As I begin to come up upon all the shiny, now damaged, cars lining the parking lot to the post office, immense guilt and dread sink in. What. Have. I. Done? Complete horror and terror freezes me in my place for an instant. As all the car alarms are screeching, and people come running to see what happened, my feet find my body, and nervously, slowly, begin to creep towards Nana’s car. All I keep thinking is, Tiara. My sister, my baby sister, it’s all my fault. I did this. I did this to her. What if she’s not okay? What if she’s hurt? I don’t dare continue on with these thoughts as I now anxiously rush towards the car. Tiara?! Tiara! TIARAAA!!! Before I know it police cars, an ambulance, and a fire truck are all flooding the place. This can’t be good. This is serious….as if I didn’t already know that. What do I do? All of a sudden a serious looking hefty, pot bellied police man walks up to me as I begin to howl and sob at the reality of the situation. He tells me everything is going to be alright, he tells me to calm down, and then he tells me he needs to know what happened. Fear and uncertainty, confusion and sadness envelop me, and somehow his supposedly soothing “statements” only made me bawl even harder. When he realizes I am of no help right now and not able to force out an answer, he walks back over to the other officials and begins to talk and throw around hand gestures with worried looks over his shoulder along with agitated glances in my direction….probably for my lack of cooperation. Three things I know for sure: I am scared, I feel alone, I need my Mommy. My perefrial vision acknowledges one of the younger, huskier and better, looking fire fighters confidently striding towards me with a bright smile plastered on his handsome face. He crouches down to just about my height and instantly I feel a little better. He starts by asking a string of questions, Am I okay? Where’s my mommy at? Why I’m down at the post office alone? Then finally, why am I crying? That stops the flow of tears completely, and I begin to tell him of my once innocently cheery afternoon, up until the very dreadful end. When I explain about us just wanting to play, only pretending to drive, and not knowing that Nana’s car would start to ride away on us, I achingly transition back into my scared and petrified crying state with tears, snot, and sweat rolling down my pudgy cheeks. I suddenly remember why I’m most upset of all and quickly exclaim, “But please Mr! My baby sister Tiara’s in Nana’s car and I left her there. I left her all alone. It’s all my fault, you need to go get her!” He quickly senses the onslaught of tears again so he scoops me up in his strong and protective arms and tells me that we’re going to go get Tiara right now. So we head on over to the car, that unfortunately damaged four other cars as well, and looked for the other piece of me that I had left behind when I had jumped...and she didn’t. Already as we’re approaching the car, an officer is guiding my baby sister towards me. She looks beyond petrified, but other than that not harmed. He puts me down and I race over to Tiara, “Tiara! I’m sorry Tiara! Are you okay?!” I give my baby sister as big of a hug as a five year old can manage and am happy and relieved when I look down and see her worried face disintegrate into a loving and adoring smile—my baby sister. And I could have not been happier to have her there with me, in my arms. Suddenly everything starts to get serious when the officers start talking again. Considering we don’t understand most of what they’re saying, Tiara and I talk of everything that just happened. “Why didn’t you open the door and jump out Tiara? That’s what I told you to do. I told you to jump out, how come you never jumped? Why didn’t you do it, Tiara?” She just looks at me with a sad face, “I couldn’t jump Cedes. I just stayed all the way at the bottom in the car. It was moving to fast, Cedes! I couldn’t do it….I was scared.” I place a protective arm around her tiny shoulders and tell her it’s okay, but Mommy and Nana are going to be reallyyy mad at us. She knowingly grimaces up at me and states “It was your idea Cedes.” My first instinct is to be angry with her, but deep down I know it was my idea, and it was most definitely all my fault. So we agree to agree, for once, and suddenly the police and fireman are back by our sides. “Hey girls, we’re goin’ to have to talk to you for a little, is that alright?” We glance at each other and look right back at them with blank faces. They take that indication as a yes and the big handsome firefighter takes me to the fire truck and seats me on his lap. “Now, I know you girls were just playing a game, but the consequences are very serious, Mercedes.” (How he knows my name I cannot remember. Did I tell him in my flurry to explain what happened?) “There was a lot of damage done,” he continues, “..and you and your little sister could have been very badly harmed as well.” I stare down at my little fingers, all knotted together and sweaty with anxiety. He continues on at my abrupt silence, “..And I know that you feel bad about what happened, but a lot of people’s lives could have been put at risk, and I don’t want you to make the same mistake twice. You understand the seriousness of this, don’t you Mercedes?” Then suddenly, like the cry baby that I’ve succumbed to today, I’m sobbing into my chest again. Great sobs of sadness and of guilt. I was embarrassed; somehow hurt even….how, after all, had I caused all this? I’m such a terrible person I think, and Mommy and Nana are gonna’ kill me, I beat myself up with. This is all my fault! I angrily confess inside again for the millionth time. He starts to sooth me again by telling me that everything’s alright now, that it was an accident and I know not to do it again. Only, it’s not alright now. That day matured me in a way I can’t describe. It instilled in me a guilt that is true; I abandoned my baby sister, my three year old sister, my flesh and blood, adorably loving and wholesome sister. That day I felt betrayal. Not for myself, but for her. That day I betrayed my sister and jumped. And that day I vowed to myself that no, I would never jump again..not without her. When I glance up through my tears, I thankfully see the same police officer walking towards me with Tiara at his side. She seems carefree, worried a little yes, but happy, content joyful and naïve. Tiara didn’t yet understand what I understood that day. And when our eyes meet, I know everything will be alright, after all, I had her to hold onto. That was truly all that mattered. I knew that when we went home, just right up that hill, that Mommy and Nana would be mad. They would be angry. Especially Nana, that car was the only thing she really had, and I had gone and destroyed it. Poor Nana, I know it will make her sad that I did that to her car, that I did that to her. If only she knew how truly sorry I was. When Tiara is finally by my side, I look her up and down one last time, everything still looks good, and I kiss her on the cheek. We get escorted back to our house, and everybody is frantic and confused. Today was the day I matured. Only a little, but still enough to change me. Nana’s car was ruined that day, but me and Tiara? We were alright.
My Regreatable Mistake
October 2, 2010