Saturday, February 20, 2010

44.) Pieces

Soundtrack Song - Thrice, Artist in the Ambulance

I hurt. Oh man, I hurt so badly.

Everything had momentarily slowed down. Time had crept by, and it felt like I had all the time in the whole world to act and react and do something; but just as much as time had slowed, so did my ability to do something about it.

The bike had slid out from underneath me, and I had fallen onto my left side. I tried to brace my fall with my arm, but I felt a snap and it did little to break my fall. I tucked my head toward my chest and my shoulder took the brunt of the hit against the concrete.

My boot was stuck between the foot rest and the shift pedal, so I was dragged along the road with the momentum of the bike for several yards. The weight of the bike pressed my leg against the cement as it pulled me along with it, and the denim of my jeans began to wear away. I felt every stone and piece of gravel imbed themselves into my skin.

My foot broke loose from the bike, and the bike continued to slide without me. The inertia caused my body to roll over so many times that I lost track of what was up and what was down as I was thrown around like a rag doll. Finally, I came to a stop.

For a couple seconds, I couldn’t do anything. I could barely breathe because it hurt so much. Assuming that it would be easier to inhale without my helmet on, I brought my right hand up to my chin strap, and I gingerly unfastened it. I thought I heard someone yelling, Call 911!, but it felt so far off.

“Don’t take your helmet off!” The voice was a little louder, so he must have been coming closer. It still sounded like I was under water, though. The helmet was muffling the sounds, and I wondered how far out of the intersection I was. A man’s face came into view, blocking out the sun. “Don’t move. You could have a neck or back injury. I’m so fucking sorry. My daughter’s on the phone, and there’s an ambulance on its way. Christ, I didn’t even see you.”

“Ugh, fuck,” I groaned, giving up on taking off the helmet and settling for flipping up the shield. I wanted to sit up, but I couldn’t put any pressure on my left arm. It was definitely broken and completely useless.

“Oh fucking Christ, you’re a girl. I’m so, so sorry.”

I pinched my eyes shut, not wanting to look at anything to assess the situation. If I couldn’t see the damage, then I wouldn’t know for sure. And if I didn’t know for sure, then I could pretend nothing was wrong. Except it still hurt like hell. I wanted it to hurt so bad that I would black out, but the situation wasn’t that dire, so I was conscious for every miserable, painful second.

“How’s my bike?” I asked, trying to concentrate on my breathing and keeping it steady. My chest and my ribs hurt from rolling over, and I wished that I didn’t need to use my lungs so I could spare myself the pain of inhaling air. I really just wanted to be unconscious. Since I wasn’t, I tried to focus on something else, like how messed up my bike probably was. I really wouldn’t be able to afford to get it fixed, let alone get a new one if it was in bad shape.

“Your bike? You’re all mangled, and you care about your bike?”

I didn’t answer him. What was I supposed to say? Part of me understood that he was trying to help, but the accident was his fault. If he wouldn’t have caused it, then he wouldn’t have to hover over me annoyingly. I just wanted him to go away.

“I don’t know what to do.” He turned his head and yelled to someone else. “Claire, grab the blanket out of the truck!” He spoke to me again. “Please open your eyes. Look at me. Come on, hun.”

“No,” I moaned. I was pissed that he called me “hun,” like I was someone he knew.

“At least keep talking, so I know you’re still alive. Please don’t die. I’m so sorry. Just don’t die. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”

I answered him sarcastically. “Gee, in that case, I’ll try.” If I had had any energy, I would have punched him. What an asshole. I felt pressure around my left leg and screamed, “What the fuck are you doing?!”

“I’m trying to stop the bleeding. Jesus. It’s probably broken.”

“Ya think?! I fucking fell off my bike! Do you think I broke my leg?!” I forgot about trying not to move. I reached up to cover my face with my right hand, straining to maintain my ebbing patience—I knew freaking out wasn’t going to help, but I wanted to cuss him out.

Similarly to the way time had slowed when I was crashing, things started to blur together. I couldn’t tell if time was passing by quickly or slowly; it simultaneously felt like both. There were other voices, too, but they were muffled. Someone was directing traffic around me. The sirens began as a faint sound off in the distance, until it was deafeningly loud. The remorseful driver was pushed away, and two new strangers approached, wearing EMT uniforms. One talked while the other immediately got to work.

“We’re here to help. You’re gonna be okay. My name’s Dave,” the talker said. “What’s yours?”

“Jo,” I replied with a groan, speaking in quick bursts with short breaths. “I’d say it’s a pleasure to meet you, but it really isn’t.”

Dave laughed. “Glad to see your sense of humor’s still intact. That’s a good sign.”

“Are my limbs still attached? Because that would be a good sign.”

“Yeah,” he chuckled. “You’re in one piece. Leg’s definitely broken. Pretty bad road rash, too. Any loss of sensation?”

“I wish. If you’ve got any painkillers, now would be a great time to give them to me. My arm’s broken, too,” I told him. “I felt it happen.”

“We’ll get to that. Do you know where you are?”

“Brown and Jefferson. At least, I was.”

“Close enough. Open up your eyes,” he instructed softly, holding my head still with his hand as he shone a light into each of my eyes. “Pupils reactive,” he told the other guy, who was doing something with my leg. I bit my lip against the pain, trying not to scream. I still didn’t want to look down. “I’m going to stabilize your neck, and then we’ll see about taking your helmet off, okay?”

“I didn’t hit my head. My neck’s fine.”

“That’s good, but we’ve gotta be safe.” He placed the brace around my neck and carefully took my helmet off. Dave was working quickly and efficiently, giving me a sense of the urgency of the situation. Oddly enough, even though I was in a lot of pain, I wasn’t worried. “Now I need to take your jacket off, to see your arm and check out your ribs and stomach, okay?”

“You just wanna see my tits,” I quipped breathlessly. Just like always, I tried to use humor to lessen the severity of the mood. I knew I was going to be okay, and I needed the paramedics to be a little less serious. I wanted them to help me, but not act so damn somber.

“Just a perk of the job, I guess,” he replied, teasing me right back. Thank God he wasn’t a stick in the mud, because I would have gone crazy. Maybe he just knew that I needed him to joke back with me. “I promise to just look and not touch, okay?” He reached for the zipper and tugged it downward, but it didn’t budge. “Must’ve jammed,” Dave said aloud, either to me or his partner, I wasn’t sure. “We’re gonna have to cut off her leathers.”

“No,” I told him sternly. No way in fucking hell were they going to cut off my jacket and irrevocably ruin it. It was James’s, and it was all I had left of him. It was my security blanket. It smelled like him. I needed it in one piece. I’d rather die in it than have them cut it and save my life.

“Jo, we have to. I’ve got to see if your arm’s bleeding. What the fracture looks like. Or if there’s any internal bleeding.”

“No. I don’t care. No, no, no. You can’t do it if I don’t let you. And I’m not letting you.”

Dave looked up at the other paramedic, who shrugged in response. “Whatever. She’s in stable condition, she’s immobilized, I’ve got her leg in a splint, and she’s okay to move. Let them deal with it at the hospital.”

Dave shook his head and peered back down at me, so confused. “You can always buy a new jacket. It’s not a big deal. Please, Jo. Just a cut up the sleeve and at the side.” I tried to shake my head, and it rattled the brace. Dave placed his hands on the sides of my head and kept me still.

Tears formed in my eyes for the first time during this whole ordeal. “No. You can’t. It’s not my jacket. I can’t let anything happen to it. You don’t understand....”

He grunted and sighed. “We could puncture a lung if we move you and one of your ribs is broken. If we don’t know what we’re dealing with—”

“I don’t care. Don’t fucking cut it.”

Without my permission, they couldn’t remove my jacket. So they put me on a stretcher and then moved me into the ambulance. I don’t remember much about the ride. Every time I tried to close my eyes, Dave made me open them again. He did what he could to keep me talking and alert, but I just wanted to block it all out. He got whatever details he needed from me, like emergency contact information. I gave him Tubby’s phone number, knowing that they’d probably give him a hassle for not being family, but I made it clear that Tubby was the closest thing to family that I had. He probably would be able to make better informed decisions than my drunkard father, anyway.

My right hand came up to my zipper, hoping that I could magically get it to work. The only thing I could do was hope that the hospital would be able to get it off some other way, like pull it over my head once the neck brace could come off. Or stitch-rip the zipper and not cut the leather, because I could get that fixed and still have the jacket in one piece.

When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, I was whisked away under the fluorescent lights. Dave talked over me to the doctors, running through the list of injuries and what they did as emergency responders. It felt so surreal, like I was on an episode of ER. No one was talking to me, but they were all talking about me. I was like a dummy: something for them to work on without having to acknowledge that I was living, breathing, and awake. They pushed me into a sterile room as a doctor barked orders, talking about IVs and cleaning wounds and X-rays. They knew what they were doing; I was in capable hands.

I tried to warn them about how to take off my jacket, that they weren’t allowed to cut it, but a sudden wave of pain washed over me as a nurse took a brush to the abrasions on my leg. I screamed, begging them to stop, my jacket now the last thing on my mind. Not taking any heed to my implorations, they didn’t stop. The pain was so unbearable—infinitely worse than the injuries from the actual crash—that I finally got my wish and passed out.

When I came to, hours later, I was in a hospital room, lying in a bed with my broken leg in a plaster cast and elevated. I was in an uncomfortable hospital gown, which exposed all the cuts and bruises that covered and colored my left thigh. My arm was in a cast as well. My neck was free, and I could move my head again, allowing me to assess all the damage. I didn’t hurt as badly as before, so they must have doped me up with Vicodin.

It didn’t seem so bad. Besides my broken arm, the majority of the damage was restricted to my lower body. James’s jacket had protected my stomach, chest, and arms from road burn, so it only hurt from the initial contact from falling.

James’s jacket.

I tried to push myself up on the bed, looking around. I needed to make sure they got the jacket off okay. Searching around the room, I tried to find my things. My jeans were probably torn to shreds, but my jacket was just scuffed and worn. They couldn’t have just thrown it out.

A nurse walked in, and noticed that I was awake. She asked how I was feeling, but I cut her off and blatantly asked, “Where the fuck is my jacket?”

She immediately left the room, not giving me an answer. I grew impatient as she summoned for the doctor. How hard was it to answer one simple fucking question? Some guy in a white coat walked in and introduced himself, but I also interrupted him with the same question. “Where the fuck is my jacket?”

He cleared his throat and nodded to the nurse, who opened the dresser across the room. “It was removed so we could set your arm.”

“Removed how?”

I had my answer when the nurse presented me with three pieces of leather. “No. This is a sick joke, right? I told them not to cut it off. I told them,” I said forcefully, in complete disbelief. They couldn’t have done this. They didn’t have my consent.

The nurse handed me the pieces, and I ripped them out of her grasp. Pressing the leather to my face, I took a deep breath. It smelled burned from being dragged down the road; there was a hint of Axe body spray mingled with the leather. It was James’s distinct, characteristic scent, on what had to be James’s cut up jacket. James’s ruined, desecrated jacket.

I shook my head, blinking ferociously in an attempt to hold back the torrents of tears. It didn’t work, and I buried my face in the leather as my heart broke into pieces, too. I couldn’t catch my breath as I cried harder than I had ever cried before. My body shook and hurt all over, but I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t make myself stop, and I didn’t want to, either. It hurt worse than my accident. I wanted to die.

It was like losing James, all over again.


  1. I feel so bad for her...maybe the jacket can be least she is ok for the most part...

    hope Kris finally comes to see her

  2. =[
    thank god she's ok.
    but james' jacket's not! udfighdfkj stupid doctors!

  3. Oh my god.
    I don't even know where to begin.
    So I totally know what she feels like when she said her accident felt like forever. Got into an accident a few weeks ago, I hit black ice and went on a little joy ride...NOT fun. In 5 seconds your life flashes before your eyes.

    AND then they cut her jacket after she told them no. I mean I understand that they probably had to cut it but..ouff..poor poor girl. She's crushed.

    Great update.
    Nothing was missing!! Well maybe Kris? But nonetheless it was a great chapter!

  4. poor Jo :(

    I love her sense of humor though lol

    She's going to be so upset if Kris doesn't show up!!!

  5. So, so, so good Jay.

    The jacket thing was so devastating.

    Your description of an accident is incredible. Another testament to your fantastic writing ability.

    Loved it and can't wait to see what is going through Kris' head.

  6. Kris is being a dick. If he wants to be with her, than why is he trying to get her to hange everything about herself???
    It's so heartbreaking that they destroyed James' jacket!! Three pieces!!?? What the heck? Not just the two pieces that would have sufficed if they did have to remove it???

  7. Ok... so excited, but also really worried... annnnnd here we go! =)

    "Everything had momentarily slowed down. Time had crept by, and it felt like I had all the time in the whole world to act and react and do something; but just as much as time had slowed, so did my ability to do something about it."
    ^^ UGH! That's the most perfect way to describe it. Hasn't that happened to everyone who's witnessed or been in some kind of accident? Everything slows down, but you do too... Oh man... this was just an unreal description. The attention to detail is gonna be even more fantastic than usual in this one, I can feel it!

    And, I was right! The whole accident from Jo's point of view was horrific (and by 'horrific' I mean, you wrote it so precisely and in depth, that I felt like I was going through it too)... ugh, I can not only see this happening clearly, but I felt like I was there with her, going through it too.

    “Oh fucking Christ, you’re a girl. I’m so, so sorry.”
    ^^ Ummm... I'm not sure why that made me so angry, but it really did. He said that like... if she had of been a guy, then it wouldn't be that big of a deal...? What a douche.
    And the whole 'don't die' thing?! Holy shit! Concerned about yourself much? I mean, I get his pov, I'd be feeling the same way (with maybe a tad more empathy), but I wouldn't say it to her! wtf

    “Ya think?! I fucking fell off my bike! Do you think I broke my leg?!”
    ^^ Bahaha! I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't laugh but... have I mentioned how much I love Jo?
    Even though she's in total pain, she's still her old sarcastic self... it makes me smile.

    “Are my limbs still attached? Because that would be a good sign.”
    ^^ LOL again, oh dear... I feel really morbid... like I'm laughing at something that I really shouldn't be laughing at.

    I love Dave... just so you know. Best EMT ever.

    The jacket thing almost killed me, twice. Once when Dave was trying to take it off, and then again when Jo woke up and it was gone.

    I KNOW that it's only a jacket and it should be James' memories that matter and not his jacket... BUT IT DOES. It's an emotional, irrational attachment... but it was an attachment nonetheless.
    I'm so heart broken right now.

    If Kris does go to the hospital... he's probably gonne freak. Jo was in an accident and she's crying over a jacket but... I get it, and I hope he does too if he goes.

    I really can't wait for the next one... my little heart is breaking but I guess I'll find some way to make it through =P


  8. Why doesn't she mention Kris?!?!

    Did I miss something?

  9. Jay, your writing is so powerful. Not gonna lie, I was completely moved by this chapter.

    I loved your descriptions. I felt like I was right there, witnessing the accident and everything that followed after it.

    Also, when they cut her jacket. UGH I wanted to die. Now, more than ever, she needs Kris there to comfort her.