Until Amy - Jessica Ames
My morning commute is thankfully short, but my routine is always the same. Shades on, iPod plugged in with my favorite tunes blasting, and the windows up so no one can hear me wailing like a dying animal. I live for this routine. It helps me unwind before I get to the hospital, where my life is more somber. I love my job. Helping people is something I can’t stop from doing. Even as a little girl, I was always the caregiver in my family, but as a trauma nurse in the Emergency Room, I see people on the worst day of their lives. Sometimes, that gets to me, which is why I need my morning routine.
I’m tapping my fingers on the steering wheel in time to the beat of the music, my eyes on the traffic when I hear the squealing of tires, followed by the screech of metal. My eyes snap in the direction it came from and I watch, horrified, as the red car in the adjacent lane to me slams into the back of a fierce looking motorcycle. The bike fishtails and goes down, catapulting the rider into the air before hitting the asphalt hard. His bike doesn’t do well either. It slides up the road before smashing into the back of a pickup, twisting the frame into a pretzel.
Instinct has me slamming on my own brakes, narrowly avoiding clipping the car in front of me as the driver pumps the brakes. The car behind isn’t as fast to react and crashes into my bumper, roughly shoving me into the vehicle I avoided hitting. As soon as the two vehicles make contact, my head snaps back and forth from the force, bouncing off the steering wheel hard enough to make my vision momentarily splinter.
Stunned, I reach my shaky hand up to skim over my temple, which is now throbbing. It comes away blood smeared and I wince at the pain as I peer through the windshield, my vision wobbling a little as I try to blink it clear.
Shit, that hurts.
Leaning forward, I hit stop on my music, which seems too happy in the circumstances. The silence that follows is eerie and puts me on edge.
Heart thumping in my chest, I reach for the handle and push the door open, pulling free of my seatbelt, so I can assess the scene.
The red car is stopped, the front of the hood banged up a little. Debris litters the roadway, and I’m not sure if it’s from the vehicle or the bike. I turn and glance behind me as I lean against my car door, trying to catch my breath for a moment.
The line of traffic on my side of the road is backed up and it looks like I’m not the only one who hit the vehicle in front. There’s at least a nine-car pileup, with the rest of the traffic coming to a stop behind the mess.
Even though my head is aching, my training kicks in. I’ve never been out on a scene before, but I still know how to triage patients. I can see that most of the people in the pile up behind me seem to be moving and alert, even though the traffic was moving fast. I expect there will be a few injuries, probably minor ones, but my main concern is the rider of that bike. He has to be badly injured after a hit like that.
I move to the trunk of the car and struggle to get the dented metal to open. Eventually, it gives and I pull out the First Aid kit I keep in there.
Then I turn and jog toward where I last saw the biker. As I get nearer, I’m analyzing everything, triaging the scene as I’m trained to do, steeling myself for what might be about to greet me. I’ve seen bike accidents before, seen the damage that can be done when a car hits one and I’m not sure I’m mentally prepared.
The driver of the red car tries to climb out as I get closer, his legs trembling as he puts weight on them. He’s probably in shock, and while I should check him over, I’m more anxious to get to the rider of the bike. He could have fatal injuries.
“Sir, stay in your car,” I yell out.
He’s a young guy, maybe mid-twenties, and his eyes dart around frantically as he takes in the carnage.
“Did I kill him?” he asks, his voice pitched high. “Is he dead?”