I didn't fully understand what was going on until it was too late to stop it from happening.
By that point, there was nothing that anyone could have done to stop the car from sliding underneath the semi. The breaks on our car had frozen up, and the driver of the truck was more than likely unaware that our car was experiencing any problems until he heard the deafening screech of metal skidding against metal, or felt the jolt as the impact of our car slammed into his trailer.
Everything had happened so fast, it was difficult to comprehend things. Even then, I wasn't sure why I was able to think after the fact. After all, by the time the ambulances had been called and the first responders arrived at the scene, it was a miracle that any of us in the car was still holding on to life.
The driver, my friend Alex, had been pronounced dead at the scene. He had the most impact; the driver's side was nearly crushed under the back wheels of the semi. I could hear the paramedics murmuring amongst themselves that they "hoped like hell it was quick and painless."
His girlfriend, who was also my sister, Janelle, was still struggling to stay alive, by the sounds of things. They had to pump oxygen into her one functioning lung manually, but I couldn't tell what they were thinking about her. The few paramedics that had pulled her body from the wreckage were more focused on keeping her heart beating, getting air into her to keep her alive. As far as things could have gone, she was responding well to the treatment. The medics had called in an emergency helicopter to First-Line her straight to a hospital capable of doing whatever they needed to do in order to keep her breathing, alive. They didn't want to lose another life, which was obvious.
Kieran, my best friend, was dead. He had been ejected from the car, as he hadn't had a seatbelt on and was in the front seat. A few medics and police officers were busy trying to find pieces of him that had been scattered around the scene of the accident. His body was in thousands of fragments, some of the bones being completely shattered beyond repair. Even if he was all intact, his skin would have been almost all scraped off. It was safe to say that the burial ceremony for him would be closed-casket, but that was what he had always wanted, anyways.
My other friend, Michelle, was struggling to stay alive as well. As far as the injuries went, hers was less fatal. She had brain trauma, which of course was bad, but they said she was more than likely to recover almost fully. The most problems she would have are holes in her memory, maybe temporary amnesia. At least she was the most likely to survive this. And if I were going to survive, I thought to myself bitterly, I wouldn't want to remember any of it. Amnesia might just be a blessing in disguise for her. Michelle had always been the sympathetic one, the one who would almost burst into tears over the ASPCA commercials that would play. If she lived through this and remembered all of it, there would be definite survivor's guilt.
I didn't know why I was still alive. Well, that wasn't necessarily the correct term to use. I didn't know why I could still think, still see.
The only problem with using those terms was that I couldn't exactly see. It was an out of body experience. I saw the complete overall scene, yet my eyes were not open. I could hear the paramedics, the wail of the oncoming sirens as back-up, the sobs from the truck driver who had only finally come to fully accept that he was a factor in at least two peoples' deaths.
But my body, it could hear nothing. I could feel nothing, physically, that is. What it was to me was as if I was standing there on the side of the road, away from them all, watching this whole thing as if it were a movie. I could feel the chilled winter air, I could see the slick ice covering the road that had caused us to slip out of control, and I could hear the mechanic beeps and the helicopter wings overhead. But at the same time, I couldn't.
There was no way to explain these things, but then, I doubted that I would live to be able to tell what had happened.
I wasn't expecting some kind of miraculous recovery on my part. I had been sitting in the backseat, on the driver's side. Like Alex, I had almost completely been crushed. My body was less squished, and I was still slightly holding on, but the trauma seemed to be too much. The medics had called another helicopter for me, but their faces were grim. Though they said nothing, it didn't have to be spoken aloud. There was a small chance of me even living long enough to make it to the hospital. And even then, if I did, there was an even tinier chance of me recovering to the ability to live a somewhat normal life. I would probably be in a coma for the rest of my life, held on life support machines.
As far as I was concerned, that was no way to live. I cast a look over at my mangled body, lying on a gurney slightly away from everyone else. To me, it almost felt like by them placing me away, they had told me that I was a goner. Even though they had no way of knowing that I was stuck in this dream state, whatever it was, it seemed like some subliminal message that maybe I should just give up and let myself go.
That's what I would have done, too, had I known how. I sat there, perfectly still, as they wrapped Kieran and Alex in body bags. The sound that the plastic made was enough to make me cringe, and I wanted to puke. Looking over, I could actually see my body convulse, as if my emotions in this state could tamper with whatever was going on with my physical state.
It was confusing to me, but I had to look away from the scene. The medics had thought that they had all of Kieran gathered up, but they were wrong; a few moments after they had zipped up his bag, I went over to see how Janelle was doing. It was my mistake. I had accidently stepped on a few of his teeth, one of his eyes.
I couldn't make myself move from that spot for so long. I just stood there, looking back into that lifeless, dull eye. It was almost like I was trying to see if Kieran could see me, as he was dead. I wondered to myself if he was in this state too, or if he had already completely moved on to wherever dead people go. Looking into his eye was almost surreal; hell, it even sounded fucked up. I wasn't ready to think of him being gone, wasn't able to understand that I would never again see him turn to me and smile, never hear him again. The eye, it was all too real for me to grasp at once. That was evidence enough to me that yes, this really had happened. It wasn't a dream.
I watched as they Life Lined my sister to a hospital, looking out into the distance until it disappeared from view. I could relax a little knowing that she now wasn't out here, exposed to the elements with minimal medical supplies to help sustain her life. If I was going to die, I at least wanted her to survive, for my parents' sake, at least.
Thinking about them was something completely off limits to me. Any time I did, my throat would choke up and I would feel lightheaded. Likewise, my body would stop responding to the IV's and other things they were doing to me. There were so many people hovered over my body now that my sister was being taken, and Michelle had been taken to the local hospital, it was difficult for me to see through the small crowd.
All of them were so focused on trying to save me. I wished there was some way to tell them to stop, that it was no use. I didn't see any point, by then, to keep living. I was almost sure that my sister would survive, and that was all that I truly cared about. She had always had more potential than I did.
In the story that was my life, Janelle was the pretty, smart, talented one. I was the middle child, quiet compared to my elder brother and my younger sister, and often overlooked. It suited me fine, though. I never truly minded it. I fit the role as the shy, subdued one perfectly. I was the easiest one out of all my siblings, and so that kind of meant that sometimes everyone else had usually forgotten about me.
Janelle was the one who everyone adored. She could play three different instruments, was in Honors' classes, and was on varsity volleyball and track and field. She had never had any problems whatsoever when it came to fitting in, to making friends. She was a trendsetter, the one who could pull together the strangest of fashions one day and then the next, everyone would be wearing them.
Though she was only a sophomore, she had long passed me in achievements. Though I hated to admit it, she had already received several scholarships. It was simple to say that Janelle, well, she was perfect.
Then there was me. I didn't have any special talents, no extraordinary mentality, and no form of expertise when it came to sports. I didn't have many friends, wasn't popular, or very much liked by my teachers as I often had problems completing the work due to my dyslexia. Most people didn't even believe that I was Janelle's older sister, but that was somewhat okay by me. I didn't want my image as a social outcast to affect Janelle, and though she never would have said it, neither did she.
I suppose that thinking about all of this was what helped me figure out how to let go. I hadn't needed to do anything drastic. There wasn't any soul searching required. I just knew that it was my time to let go of the fight and give up. After all, I had somewhat considered the idea of suicide many times before. The only reason I had never done it was because I didn't want to become the half-ass martyr that society began to create whenever some teenager would kill themselves lately. I didn't want anyone reading into my life, trying to find some reason as to why I did it. That was all my decision, my privacy. Not theirs.
All I had to do to end my life right there was just close my eyes and stop thinking. That was it. It was easier than all of the Hollywood movies portray it, but then, this seemed like something straight from one of those. Only, there wasn't a happy ending for me, something that I was perfectly okay with.
Once I did that, a warm shimmery feeling washed over me. It felt like I had to open my eyes, so I did. But believe me, there was no bright light.
But, standing there was Kieran and Alex, along with a few relatives that had died throughout my life, along with people I didn't know. I assumed they were deceased relatives of my friends.
Kieran outstretched his hand to me. "We were wondering if you were going to come along," he said.
I smiled back and took his hand. Looking behind me at the scene of the wreck, the last thing on earth that I would ever see again, I turned to him and the others.
"Well," I said, easing my shoulders. "What are we waiting for?"