I’m sure everyone can figure out where this came from. Nonetheless, it dumped itself out of my fingertips, so here it is. It’s weird. I can almost hear these two if I close my eyes and listen…
– – – – –
I wanted my gum, dammit.
“Suze. Where’d you put that pack of gum?” I jammed a finger in the cubby hole under the ash tray in the dash, probing for a stick of artificial cinnamon flavor.
“Watch where you’re going,” she nagged. She kicked at the debris around her feet. “It’s here somewhere.”
“Well then find it. Dammit, I told you to clean out your car before we left.” I leaned over, a glimpse of red wrapping peered through the empty coke bottles and McBurger wrappers on the floor. “There. What’s that by your —”
“David,” she screamed. “Look out!”
I jerked my head up. Headlights in my lane. I yanked the wheel. Both feet stomped the brakes. Metal screamed and glass shattered. My steering wheel exploded.
* * * * *
My face burned. I hurt everywhere. I forced my eyes open. The hole that used to be a windshield gave view to the underside of a pickup truck. I smelled gasoline leaking from somewhere. An eery silence hung in the air, smothering everything.
“Suze?” I turned my head to the right. She didn’t answer. Her bright red hair matted against her head. Blood leaked from a hundred places where shattered glass peppered her face and scalp. “Suze, wake up.” I leaned toward her, but was stopped short. I looked down. The dashboard crushed against my legs. The steering wheel, curtained by the air bag, was buried deep in my left leg. Blood pooled in my mouth, the copper tang twisting the edges of my tongue. I swallowed.
Suze moaned and stirred slightly. “David? What happened?”
“I don’t know, baby. Someone crossed over into our lane and hit us. Are you ok?”
She smiled. Even with blood smeared on her face and dripping down into her eyes, her smile lit her face. “It hurts, David.” She looked down to her right. I followed her gaze. Her right arm was pinned against the door, bent backwards into the twisted metal. The shattered end of the bone protruded below the elbow. An obscene flap of muscle and skin trembled against it.
“Suze, I’m so sorry.”
“Not your fault. He crossed—”, she swallowed hard, closing her eyes for a moment. “He crossed over the line.”
A voice called from outside, “Anyone alive in there?”
“Yes,” I called back. “There’s two of us. Get us out.”
“Hang on, we’re trying.” His voice moved away. “Looks like two survivors, the third guy’s laying over there in the road.”
I reached over and took Susan’s good hand. “We’re going to be ok, baby.” I tried to squeeze, but my grip weakened. “Suze?” She didn’t respond. “Suze, baby. Stay with me.” Tears burned the corners of my eyes. Her breathing slowed. Each taking longer than the last. She gasped. I waited. Another gasp. Then another, this one exhaling in a long sigh. Her hand changed with that breath. It felt heavier. Her skin lost it’s glow, turning waxy and cold.
I wept. My heaving breath echoed around me. I couldn’t feel my legs, and my arms were going numb.
Somewhere, far away, I heard a voice again. “Buddy, stay with me. Come on, man. Over here.”
I tried to turn, but I was just too tired. My head was filled with lead. I couldn’t think anymore. Susan was gone. I didn’t… She wasn’t…
I closed my eyes. I tasted cinnamon.