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wrecked 04.30.21

My heart pounded as I watched the ambulance pull away, lights flashing and siren blaring.

I glanced down at my hands, they were trembling. I took a few steps to the side and vomited into a nearby bush.

“Whoa, hey man, are you okay?”

I wiped my mouth and stood up, feeling worse than I did before. “Did you know it was a drunk kid that hit her? An underage, drunk kid coming home from his friend’s house.”

Mark frowned angrily. “Seriously?”

I shook my head in frustration. “I hate New Years.”

“I know, Jackson.”

“Our shift is over, now. I’d like to go home.”

Mark nodded. “I’ll take you back to your car once I finish everything here.”

When he was done, we drove in complete silence. Mark already knew what I was thinking. I had spent the past several hours trying to get her out of my head. It clearly wasn’t my place to rescue her from her boyfriend issues.

But, apparently it was my place to rescue her from a crushed vehicle.

I clenched my fists. Of all the people in the world, why me?

We got to our parked cars and I mumbled, “Thanks man,” as I got out of the ambulance and walked towards my car. It was 3:25 in the morning and I was wide awake.

I drove home trying to shake the scene from my head. She was driving a 1990’s Toyota Forerunner, a beast of a car that really protected her from death, but not from serious injuries. When I laid her on the stretcher, I noticed that her legs were about triple the size of her body. I could only imagine what kind of injuries she had, and there also could be more damage that we couldn’t see.

I gasped and felt my heart shatter.

More damage that we couldn’t see, like…

“Her baby,” I whispered.

Those words lingered in the air heavily as I drove home, thinking about how much grief this woman went through in only one day. The thought of that alone ached so deeply in my heart.

I walked into my apartment where my roommate, Joseph, was watching a show with some of his friends.

I walked right past them and headed towards the bathroom.

“Happy new year!” Joseph called after me.

I closed the door behind me and turned the shower on, stepping in fully clothed and replaying the night over and over again. I closed my eyes and leaned my forehead against the shower wall.

The next thing I knew, the water was ice cold and there was a pounding on the door. “Hey man, you’ve been in there for almost an hour. No judgement or anything, but just making sure you’re okay?”

I shivered, turned the water off and stepped out, opening the door to reveal to Joseph the complete mess that I was in.

“Um…” He gave me an up-down. “Bad night?” He handed me his opened beer bottle.

I took my wet shirt off, tossed it into the sink and took a swig of his beer. “That’s not even the half of it.” I snatched a towel off of the drying hook and ran it through my hair as I walked passed him towards my room. He followed.

“You wanna…talk about it?”

I did, but where would I start? Belle had no connection to me, but my heart grieved over her. An ache that I couldn’t justify as a complete stranger to her. I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know where to begin.”

Joseph sat down on my bed while I pulled dry, clean clothes out of my dresser. “Need me to call your brothers so that we can have an intervention?” He teased, walking up to me and tousled his hand playfully through my hair. “You’re too young to have white hair, don’t be so stressed!”

I shook my head and chuckled. “I don’t need an intervention,” I looked out my window at the brightening sky. “I just need to figure out what my responsibility is.”

“For what?”

I sighed heavily and sat down next to him, explaining everything that had happened yesterday, starting with the bar scene. I shared my feelings about her, ending with: “I just don’t think it’s right to be feeling so attracted to her, especially because we don’t even know each other!”

“Dude, it kind of sounds like you’re exactly what she needs right now. Step in now, offer your shoulder, then bang!” He smacked his hands together for emphasis. “Wedding bells.”

I laughed lightly. “You’re ridiculous. Go get some sleep.”

Joseph laughed and nudged my arm with his elbow. “I’m planning on sleeping all day, I don’t start my new job for almost a week. But, seriously, I think you have a lot to offer her. Ah, but what do I know? Maybe go ask your parents?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I guess that’s a start.”

“Good talk,” Joseph smacked my leg, stood up and left the room.

I sighed and put dry clothes on. It was about quarter after five, so I knew my dad would be awake. I grabbed my running shoes, my earphones and headed out the door. My parents only lived about five miles from our apartment, so whenever I could, I ran to their house.

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