I can feel my hands shaking as I walk through the double doors into the emergency room. I shouldn’t be here; this doesn’t feel right. It seems like just hours ago that Marie and I were playing cards in the small, quiet kitchen of her apartment, listening to the newest song from her favorite band – no wait, it WAS just hours ago….
How could things have changed so much since then?
As I approach the nurses’ station, I hear it. That song, playing softly over the radio that’s set up behind the desk.
And just like that, my breath is gone.
I stumble backwards, my fingers grabbing onto the countertop in front of me. I can hear the nurse asking if I’m okay, but how can any of this be okay?
The truth is, yes, physically, I’m okay. The paramedics cleared me after the accident. They said somehow, miraculously, I walked away without even a scratch.
Marie wasn’t so lucky, they tell me.
The nurse sits me down and offers me a glass of water. I start to take slow sips of it, but I can see my hands are still shaking. I’m tempted to sit on them, but I fear that might make me look crazier than I already do.
That song is still playing, though now I can’t tell if it’s on the radio or just in my head. I’d hope for it to stop, but then again, I don’t want to think about where my thoughts will take me if I’m surrounded by quietness.
The accident happened three hours ago, now, the nurse tells me. I say to her that I don’t remember anything. Maybe I do, but I surely don’t want to.
It happened almost three hours ago. The police said that we had left her house around 2 a.m. We had probably been driving for a little while – they don’t know where we were headed, and I can’t remember, I’ve told them multiple times.
But the road was dark, the curve was steep and Marie swerved and hit a tree. Her Sonata was crushed up in the front. I walked away without as much as a scratch; she was barely holding on to life, and I can still hear that stupid song playing in my head.
That song, I realized, that was playing on the car radio when the accident happened. Oh. god.
The nurse is still sitting next to me. I’m not sure when she stopped talking, but it’s clear I’ve been sitting here, silent for too long. She looks worried about me. I guess I don’t blame her, because I’d be worried too.
How can things have changed so much in just a few hours? It seems like that song just keeps playing, and over the course of one chorus, one line, one high note… the rhythm of my life has been thrown off-balance.
(Prompt via Writer’s Digest: You walked into the emergency room. This simply couldn’t be happening. Just a few hours ago you were playing cards with your friend, listening to your favorite song on the radio—the song that defined your friendship. But now, as you make your way to the nurses’ station, that song was playing again. Only this time, it felt different.)