I Owe You One

November 16, 2009
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“I don’t want to sit in the middle. Jackie you’re the smallest sit in the middle!” I said in my snotty ten-year-old voice to my little sister. Her being the littlest had no choice but to oblige and squeeze into the middle. Little did I know this one tiny decision would leave me feeling guilt up to my nose.

It was a normal Saturday for my family, my dad started the engine of his latest buggy he’d been working on and we all buckled in. We were smack dab in the middle of the 105-degree weather that Glamis, CA always brought. Before I could wave bye to my dog Billy, we were off into the dunes. It was a typical day with a typical ride to “The Hill”.

The whole day at “The Hill” thing is a blur to me since I’ve gone there so much. But I’m sure we did the same thing as always that day, my dad talking business to all the people interested in his buggy and my mom off with her friends. Then my sister and I playing in the desert sand, making sand castles and sand angels. Until my dad yells, “Let’s go kids” and we all pile back into the buggy and leave everyone in the dust.

But before we left this day, my dad felt the radiator over heating. So my dad being Mr. Mechanic fixed it no problem, adding more water in the cooler. While he was putting water in, I started to feel really squished in between my mom and sister. I remembering telling my mom, “I don’t want to sit in the middle, Jackie you’re the smallest sit in the middle!” So of course me getting my way, my sister switched with me. Then we were off once again.

I can remember the screaming like it was yesterday, even the engine that day couldn’t hide my six-year-old sister’s high pitch scream. We were about five miles from camp when it happened. When my dad came to a sudden halt and we all flung forward. My parents jumping out of their seats, unbuckling my sister’s seatbelts and mine faster then I could blink. We got out and they immediately started pouring all these drinks on us. When I told my mom, “I’m fine, it didn’t burn me.”

The radiator lid had popped off while we were in the buggy. Leaving boiling hot water all over my sisters left ear and neck. I didn’t know what to do, or how to react. I just kept thinking about I’m the one who made my sister switch seats, that should have been me.

A helicopter came and picked up my sister and my mom up and flew her to a burn center in San Diego. My dad and I drove down that night to meet them. The doctor’s confirmed it as a third degree burn, she was in treatment in for a week and left with a wrap around her hair and neck for a couple months.
My sister is thirteen years old and is still left with a reminder of what happened that day on her neck. I don’t think it will ever go away, it’ll stay there as a reminder to me and everyone else that every little decision counts. I know it’ll stare straight back at me when she takes her first prom picture and you see that little scar or on her wedding day and she try’s to hide it with foundation, and I know I’ll be there making sure that foundation does it’s job.

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