Five Surfaces

February 5, 2011
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The summer before I came to high school my mom my brother Willie and I were at Stone Harbor, NJ, the beach we go to every summer. My mom’s whole side of the family was there, which is a grand total of ten people, even counting the five in my immediate family. We had just arrived the day before, and because of a swim meet, my brother Andy and my dad were driving down that night.

As you can tell by looking, my side’s not really one for the sun. I used to try and tan, but all too soon I realized it just wasn’t going to happen. So I prefer to spend my beach day wandering around the cute little Stone Harbor town. Its just a small seven mile island, and to keep it so quaint they don’t even allow chain stores on the island. I would spend my days walking in and out of stores, usually on my own. Back then, the only time I was even allowed to be out on my own was at Stone Harbor, because my parents trusted it’s security so much.

I had spent the day roaming, eating root beer Italian ice from Rigi’s and people watching- a perfect day. I walked the few blocks back to the house we rent each year and climbed the back stairs into the second floor family room. I kicked off my perpetual converse and plopped on the couch. Some bad western was on and my grandpa was asleep, however his death drip on the remote prevented the channel from being changed. I didn’t really care though, my mind was miles away. You see, I’m always pretty nervous. I’m one of those people who never really calms down much either. As some as one thing goes right, I go off and always seem to find something else to worry about. But stone Harbor- is different. It’s a blessing. It’s one week a year were I have no responsibilities, no issues, nothing. It’s incredible.

Because of the huge age difference between me and the rest of my family, I’m always kind of left on my own, but, I’ve come to love it and even to need it. I was in the throws of another week of Stone Harbor, of peace and tranquility, when the phone rang.

“weird.” I thought. Who even knows this number? And who would be calling now?

Thirty minutes later my mom, brother and I were on our way to the emergency room.

My brother Andy and our dad had been hit by a car that was running a red. The car had been totaled, and that’s about all we knew. As we drove, my mom’s wouldn’t shut up. She kept talking and talking, saying every scared little thought that ran through her mind. My brother Willie in shotgun kept trying to relax her, saying over and over that he’s sure it’s not that bad- and that everything would be all right. Me? I hadn’t said a single world since that phone call. My mind was racing—but my mouth was glued shut. I was frozen.

When we got there, the two of them went to Andy’s room, and I went off the find my dad. After talking to a few attendings, I found his room. I walked in and saw him on the hospital bed. From where I was standing, I could see his blood on five different surfaces. When the cars collided, his head was slammed against the back of the headrest, and his head was bleeding, bad. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I'm sure it was some snarly comment. Leave it to my dad. To look at him you couldn’t even tell he was hurt, he might as well have been on the couch watch the game. We talked and he informed me of the incident. How they were going through the intersection, when some random guy with a suspended license and a friend’s car ran a red and hit them. He said that Andy’s right ankle was messed up, he didn’t know how bad. Still, he didn’t loiter on the serious for very long. He proceed to inform me of the colorful vocabulary used by my biggest brother that night, and he continued to lighten the mood. I wasn’t sure how to behave, how to react. I just sat there, wringing my hands and looking around. I couldn’t stop looking at his blood- it was still everywhere.

I went back a little later through the maze of room to find the rest of my family. I finally found Andy’s room; he was sitting on his bed with a giant purple mess where his ankle used to be. The TV was on in the corner of the room, and he was talking to me mom and Willie. Andy was, pissed, quite frankly. He kept talking and talking about it with, again, a some what colorful language.

I don’t think I said more than a dozen words that night. Willie and my mom continued to talk later in the waiting room, which lived up to it’s name as we spent hour and hour there. I had some dumb magazine, but that was really just something to keep my still wringing hands busy. I couldn’t really think about anything. It’s so odd being the youngest; you used to them being so strong. Seeing them so vulnerable, so human, was so new. Being on the other side of that, basically for the first time I had no idea what to do.

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