Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sightseeing (08/08/05)
TITLE: Through a Shattered Window
By Sandra Petersen
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Pain from several parts of my body jolted my brain and I joined the sea gull chorus in their screams. I commanded my eyes to open but my lashes were glued shut. My arm muscles would not respond when I attempted to raise my right hand.
Using my left hand I rubbed at my eyes. Clotted blood clung to my fingers as my eyelids parted.
A gull perched on the battered hood of my car peered at me with red-rimmed eyes. Ducking its head, the gull cried its disapproval and joined its comrades swirling in the air above the rocky beach.
I panicked, realizing I was alone in this wreckage somewhere on the shore of Lake Superior. What was intended as a daylong carefree cruise to enjoy the sights of the lake had turned into a nightmare. Why, my mind scolded, had I left home without a word to anyone?
Stop it, I told myself. You need to assess the situation.
I allowed my gaze to wander from shattered windshield to the driver’s side window now devoid of safety glass. A boulder wedged against my door closed off that method of escape. The flat surface of the rock was like a large tabletop inches below my window. A possibility existed that I could boost myself up and over the window with my legs and my left arm.
A glance downward made me shudder. Blood spurted from the right kneecap in a crimson fountain, and my left leg was hopelessly crushed under a mass of metal.
I began to shiver uncontrollably. Had the wind direction changed, or was I slipping into shock?
Glancing over my shoulder I could see the wide swath of destruction my car had made as it left the roadway and plunged to the shoreline. Maybe a passing motorist would wonder about it and investigate. But how long would that take?
The patchwork afghan I had crocheted for a seat cover was underneath me. Gathering what I could of it I tried to warm myself.
When would my hospital coworkers wonder about my absence? Would anyone else worry about me? When would they begin to search?
Drifting in and out of consciousness, I thought and dreamed about sights and sounds in my past.
My stepmother’s angry voice when she caught me sneaking a cigarette from her purse. The awful taste in my mouth when she demanded I eat a stubbed out butt from the overflowing ashtray to teach me not to smoke. The lesson never took, and I thought of the many times I hid my habit from her.
The hustle of the busy café where I waitressed while attending nursing school, the older men soliciting me with attention and unfulfilled promises. Plates with puddles of leftover ketchup and cigarettes tamped out in the midst. Customers sometimes didn’t seem to care how disgusting their table scraps appeared to their waitress.
The descriptive words of my character that my stepmother cast my direction when I returned home after miscarrying a baby boy. My ensuing rebellion while living under her roof and hypocritical rules. Late nights with bar buddies, temporary companions on an island of loneliness.
My scorn at my stepmother’s gasping breaths as she died of emphysema and tried to convince me to speak to a friend that had promised her Heaven. At the time I snorted, Yeah, right.
A skinny freckled kid walking forward in a friend’s church responding to a call. Thinking that finally someone who mattered would accept me. Knee-highs bunched at my ankles, tears dripping from my jaw line, feeling loved.
I startled back to the present. Where had that last memory come from? I tried to remember what I had said or done to receive that comforting love. Lord, how I needed that love right now! As I drifted out again, the gulls wheeled above my head.
My consciousness stirred to an antiseptic smell, voices about me, searing pain.
“She’s lucky those people found her when they did,” and my mind spun into darkness again.
Waking again, a pleasant drowsiness draped my body like a blanket, and I marveled at the complete forgiveness I sensed. Tears fell to my pillow as I felt that all-encompassing acceptance once again.
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