Glass littered the roadway, crunching under the slow-moving vehicles being directed by the red and blue flashing lights. Traffic had been reduced to a crawl as people stared at the unnerving sight.
A girl stood to the side, talking with an officer. Her eyes were puffy, her body shaking, as the tears streamed down her face. Her hands waved in frantic gestures as she tried to fight off the shock of the last 20 minutes.
She had seen the whole thing. All of it. The images were imprinted on the back of her eyelids, and even as she wrapped her arms around herself, she knew she would never forget; the screech of tire on pavement, the honking of the cement truck, the inevitable explosion as vehicle hit vehicle.
“Is he okay?” she gasped into the sleeve of her sweater. The driver had been a young male, maybe the same age as her. She hadn’t seen any sign of him since the ambulance had arrived, and all she could think was the worst.
“We are getting the jaws of life. We will get him out and do the best we can. Did you know him?” the officer asked, grabbing onto her elbow and shuffling her further away from the wreckage of the green car.
Skyler shook her head. No, she didn’t know him. He had been a complete stranger, the vehicle had been just another obstacle on the road.
The roads hadn’t been very good for the past couple days, as snow removal crews worked overtime and still accomplished nothing. The ice ruts caused fishtailing, and the caked on snow hid patches of black ice. With the bridges being the worst parts of the city, most people drove carefully, and most made it by just fine.
Skyler shivered as the pictures played back in her head, the green car driving a little too fast, another driver cutting it off, the green car slamming on its breaks, hitting the patch of ice, fishtailing.
Before coming to a stand still, the green car was slammed into the guardrail, hit dead on by the following cement truck. It had been a slow motion scene straight from the movies.
Traffic stopped, as people jumped from their vehicles, rushing towards the disaster. The driver of the cement truck kicked open his door, taking all precautions as he approached the green car.
Someone was instantly on the phone with 911, but Skyler had been driving just behind and had see it all, in explicit detail. She had seen the terror in the guy’s face as his car hit the patch, once he realized this would not be a skid he could get out of.
She couldn’t forget his face, the eyes that had connected with hers for a moment before the cement truck hit. It was this flashback that had her collapse to the ground, sobbing in horror as additional sirens got closer.
The officer at her elbow dropped to her side. He was speaking to her but she didn’t understand. She didn’t care. She just needed to know if he was okay, if he was going to be okay.
“Is he going to be okay?” she repeated. “I need to know if he is going to be okay.”
The statement came out in choked words, her voice hoarse from the tears clogging her throat. Her eyes kept focusing back on the little green car; she could now see his body, lifeless, as the paramedics worked on getting him out.
She couldn’t hear their words, but she saw their mouths move as they worked, talking to the unresponsive body slumped over the steering wheel.
Skyler refused to get up, staying motionless on the sidewalk as the officer continued to ask her questions. She ignored him, she couldn’t think, couldn’t talk, at this exact moment.
The only thoughts running through her head were for him, for his family, his friends, those he had been driving to meet. They didn’t know, but she did, and there was nothing she could do.
The screech of metal on metal brought her back, and the officer’s words began to register.
“Ma’am, can you stand? Are you hurt?” The officer kept repeating the same questions.
Skyler waved off his hand, pulling herself up, pushing herself to her feet. She continued to shake. A blanket was draped over her shoulders, and she pulled it tight as she watched the firefighters work to pry open the car.
The door popped off, and once again the paramedics resumed their place at the driver’s side. He still remained unmoving, and now she noticed the mangled leg, as well as the blood trickling from his mouth.
The sleeve of his hoodie was ripped, and the steering wheel had to be removed to release his body from the confines of the drivers seat. The body was finally extracted from the distorted mess, and placed on a stretcher. A blanket was placed over top, covering the broken human from the public’s prying eyes.
Skyler felt her feet move, and even as the officer called to her, she felt her feet break into a run. She skidded to a halt beside the open ambulance doors.
“I’m going with him,” she said.
The paramedic closing the doors stared at her.
“I don’t care what you say, I’m going with him.” Her words were venomous, like a snake striking its next meal.
“I need to go with him.”
She didn’t know if it was the desperation in her voice, or the way her eyes pleaded, the way her body language screamed defeat but also determination, but the paramedic sighed and opened the door again.
Skyler jumped in, the door closed, and the ambulance began to move. She watched in silence, squeezing herself into the back-most corner, hoping against hope that this strange boy laying like a corpse on the stretcher in front of her would make it to see the next morning.