When I started writing this last night, I wanted it offbeat. But I don’t do offbeat easily. So I wrapped up The Dream Story with a cliched ending. Trent pointed out that the pregnancy was too cliched. And I agree. So …
Molly always did this thing when she was nervous. She would rub her left eyebrow with her right hand. I guess it’s why she didn’t see the accident as it was happening.
We were walking down Brittany Park Drive. At the corner of Elk Grove-Florin Road, we turned right. On our way to Taco Bell. A chalupa or two for me. Soft tacos for her. Maybe we’d split a Nachos Supreme. I loved their Mountain Dew Baja Blast.
I looked at her rubbing her eyebrow. Her hand covering her left eye almost entirely. Why was she nervous? I had no idea. That’s when two things happened.
First, she stopped walking and said to me, “Joe. There’s something I need to tell you.” I was about to ask her what when the second thing happened.
Two cars came through the intersection almost simultaneously. The one in the far lane, just slightly ahead, tried to change lanes. But there wasn’t any space to do so yet. All there was was the other car. The one clipped the other, pushing it up on to the sidewalk and into a utility pole, mere feet from us.
I saw it coming, but Molly didn’t. Her hand covering her eye, the other focused on me while she swallowed deeply and took a breath. She had to have heard it though. The squeal of brakes. The crunch of metal. The breaking of glass. The sounds of the accident caused her to drop her hand. The sight caused me to jump back. Not once, but twice. I tried to grab her, but my hand slipped off her elbow.
She felt it too, just as she turned to the noise. Part of the car’s bumper tore off the car and flew through the air, slamming into her side and knocking her to the ground right in front of me.
“Molly!” I screamed, trying to ignore the glass that fell around us, the sound of her breathe exploding out of her, and the crack of her head hitting the sidewalk.
“Molly,” I whispered as I fell to my knees and looked her over. The good news was that her eyes were open, she was breathing. She was going to be okay. Right?
“Joe,” she whispered to me. “I don’t feel so good.”
“I know.” I wasn’t sure what to do. They always say you shouldn’t move somebody until you know what their injuries were. But this was Molly, my wife. I needed to comfort her. I gently lifted her so she could rest her head on my lap, hoping I wasn’t causing more damage as I did so. “Sssshhh.” I gently stroked her hair with one hand while I dug my phone out of my pocket with the other. “I’m going to call 911.”
“Honey, there’s something I wanted to tell you,” Molly said haltingly. She lifted her hand to her eyebrow again.
“Not now. Just be quiet.”
A crowd began to form. Some were trying to help the driver in the wrecked car. Others were talking angrily about the fact that the driver who had caused the mess had kept on going.
“Did anybody get the license plate?”
“Nah, man. What an asshole!”
“What kind of car was it?
“No, no, no. It was a Corolla.”
“You’re both wrong. It was a Honda. Something like that.”
“It was blue, wasn’t it?”
“Again, you’re both wrong. It was silver.”
“Shit man, gray. Silver. There ain’t no difference there.”
“I think I saw part of the license plate. Maybe something like 5JW and then I didn’t get the rest.”
“That ain’t gonna help none.”
“Maybe it will. We figure out the make, they can run those first characters and maybe get a match.”
“Is she okay, dude?” a teenage boy asked me, leaning over at his waist, hands on his knees.
I looked up at the kid and said the only thing I could because I didn’t want Molly to know I was worried. That I was scared. “Yeah, she’s fine. Just a little knock on the head. That’s all.” And who knew if the bumper hitting her had caused any damage to her hip, or anything else for that matter.
As the sound of sirens finally reached my ears, Molly reached her hand to mine. “There’s something I’ve wanted to tell you, but I don’t know how.”
“What? You can tell me anything. But now may not be the time. You’re hurt. Just take it easy.”
“No. I need to tell you now. I can’t hold it in any longer.”
“The ambulance is almost here.” I could see the flashing lights coming down Elk Grove-Florin. an ambulance and a police car were on their way. “We can talk later.”
“Listen, Joe.” Molly tried to sit up but grimaced before resting her head back in my lap. “Trent was right?”
“What? Trent? Who is that? What are you talking about?”
Molly sighed and began rubbing her left eyebrow again. “You are so … never mind. Trent. He was our server last night.”
“Yeah. So.” I wanted to take her hand away from her face. “Where the hell are the paramedics?” The sirens had stopped with the ambulance parked behind the damaged car. I wasn’t thinking about the driver in the car. I was only concerned about Molly.
“Wait a sec.” I forgot for a moment about the paramedics. “Trent? You mean the guy who got our order totally wrong.”
“It wasn’t that bad.”
“Yes, it was. You ordered the jumbo shrimp. He brought you a cubano sandwich. I mean, it’s not even the same meat type.”
“Okay. You’re right. He got that wrong. But he was right about something else.
That’s when the paramedics finally got to us. Who I would later learn were Frank and Mick.
“She’s my wife,” I told them when they were checking her out. “Is she going to be okay?”
The one who I’d later learn was Frank replied, “Should be, but we need to get her to the ER and get her checked out. Have the doctors take a look at her head. The good news is it doesn’t appear to be anything else. No other damage. Just her head.”
“Just her head …” I mumbled to myself. The head could be a big deal though. I knew people who had concussions. Bad ones. Skiing accidents and skateboarding accidents and falls from bicycles. Knocking their heads on something and, sometimes, it took months and months for them to get right. To get past the headaches, the fuzziness, the grayness, the memory issues. All sorts of things. So … just her head. Yeah.
Frank and Mick put Molly on a gurney and rolled her into the ambulance. Just before they slammed the doors shut, Molly told them to hold up. “Joe, I need to tell you what Trent was right about.”It’s not that big of a deal. It can wait.”No, no. Hold on.” She propped herself up on her elbows. An effort I could tell wasn’t easy. “You didn’t like your burger. Too dry, wasn’t it? You should have got the manicotti like Trent suggested.”
“What? That’s it? That’s why you’re rubbing your eyebrow again? Molly?” I said as Mick slammed the ambulance doors shut. “Molly?!”