White noise. Thats all I can hear. It’s loud yet so silent at the same time. It has taken over my ears so I can’t hear anything else. It’s like the ringing in your ears that you get after listening to music too loudly. I can feel it throbbing in my brain, searching for a place that it hasn’t found yet. I finally open my eyes but it’s so bright. The sun is high above me, it’s warmth touching my face. I close them. Feeling starts to return to my body. I run my tongue along the rim of my mouth slowly and taste my blood. The white noise starts to fade and I can hear a woman’s high pitch scream. It is piercing into my ear drums, getting louder and more intense. Why is she screaming so much? Shut up. I struggle to open my eyes again because they are so heavy, and weak. I blink slowly getting used to the light, but it hits my cornea and burns slightly, so I close them. My body aches. I try to move, but my seatbelt constricts me, binding me to the clammy leather of the seat. I force my eyes open.
My seatbelt. A car. My car. I’m in my car. I crashed.
I was on my way to, somewhere, and my bag is in the back seat. But I wasn’t alone, was I? Shit. Both of our bags are in the back. We had music playing. She brought her favourite CD, shoved it into the radio as soon as we got in the car and blasted it on full. It was shitty kids music but she was so happy and we both knew the words, so I didn’t care. Dad gave us $50 bucks to go out and do something with our Saturday, instead of lounging around like we do usually. He was good like that, always trying to get the best out of the day. Me and her are pretty close even though the age gap is big, so I was happy to hang with her for the day, my friends are being idiots at the moment anyway. I let her decide where were should go cause she can make a fuss when she doesn’t get her way. It was a hot sticky day in the middle of the summer holidays, so she chose the beach. I’m not a huge fan of sand but I felt like tanning, and there is a really nice organic ice cream stand at the north end of Sally’s beach, so I wasn’t complaining.
I refocus on what has just happened, and what needs to happen. Both of my hands move slowly to the buckle of my seatbelt, and I feel warm flesh. The woman has stopped screaming and she is next to me with her hands already working away to try remove the buckle. She is frantic and doesn’t exactly know what to do with herself. I can see sweat starting to form on her hair line. I set my hand on top of hers to get her attention. “Katie” I whisper. I’m telling her to stop helping me, it’s not me that needs it, it’s the girl sitting next to me. Fuck me, go to her. She stares at me not realising what I mean, and keeps going at the seatbelt. I think it bent inside the clasp, so she is aggressively trying to rip it out. “Are you okay?! My name is Maria. Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay. I have just called the ambulance”
An ambulance. I remember the last time I encountered an ambulance, it was when I was eight and I broke my arm going down the fireman’s pole. Mum rushed over to me as I hit the ground and wiped my wet face. She reassured me that “everything is going to be okay” and “the ambulance was coming”. Thats what they are supposed to say though. The ambulance arrived and the paramedic came over and picked me up. He asked me if I wanted the sirens on. I waited for a moment, contemplating it, and then said no. I was too scared that it would blow into my ears and add to the pain that I was already in. So he took his hand away from the switch and calmed me down. I went into surgery as soon as I got to the hospital and then needed three more after that to put it back into place. “Everything is going to be okay”, who fucking knows if it is going to be okay.
I can hear sirens now, I think. Or maybe thats my mind playing tricks on me.
The seatbelt is finally off and I take Mary’s hand with a bit more force this time “Help, Katie, please” all of my energy has been taken out of me. My body almost shuts down and I am so close to falling asleep, but I fight the urge. KatieKatieKaite stay awake for Katie. Maria looks at me, then looks past me and finally realises that there is another person in the car. Her eyes go wide and panic surges through me. She agrees without saying anything and runs to the other side of the car. This is when I turn around and see my little sister, with her eyes closed and her body limp. I reach over and unclip her belt. It’s a lot easier than my one thank god. I feel little warmth on her body as I untangle her. She’s unconscious and hard to move. Mariam is crying now, as she tries to analyse whats wrong with Katie and I’m feeling very overwhelmed, but I need to get closer to her. I try to stand up and get out of the car, but I am stopped by intense pain that ripples through my chest. Just for a moment I’m selfish and wait for it to stop, but I hate myself for it. I place my legs on the ground, one by one feeling the concrete below me. I take a breath, grab the side of the car, and stand up. A wave of pain takes over my body, I let out a small wince and clutch my chest. I take another breath and slowly start taking steps moving towards Katie. That woman, Madeline? I think her name is? Mandy? has a hold of her and is lying her on the grass.
I finally see the full impact of what has happened. What the fuck, have I done.
My legs collapse, not being able to handle the weight of my body, and I hit the bonnet on my way to the ground. The sirens seem to be growing louder, fearfully I turn my head towards her, out of the corner of my eye I think I see her chest shudder with an intake of breath. Please be alive