Heartbeat In My Ears…


My true story. 

There’s a heartbeat sounding in my ears.

“See mom, these are the Hot Wheels I want to keep, because they have moving parts.”  The rest can go to the fundraiser.

Moving parts are always more interesting.

Thump-thump.

I hear the crashing sound of a demolition crew.

Wait….  That’s not right.  I’m sitting at a stop light.  At an intersection on the edge of town.  Nothing but trees and cacti on my right.  I turn to my left.

Heartbeat.

There’s an infinity in the space between moments.  Did I leave my body?

Heartbeat.  Silence.

My child!

If I left my body, it wasn’t for long.  But I’m frozen.

The pickup driver’s hair is blonde.

Flash…..

My earliest childhood memory takes place in my father’s arms at an amusement park.  My parents told me that I must have been about 18 months old when they took that trip.

I’m staring at a ride that looks something like a huge airplane propeller with rockets on each end.  It’s painted red, white and blue, with one end red, the other blue and a band of white at the axis.

The propeller spins and there is a boy in the blue rocket.  His shirt is yellow.  He’s screaming his head off and I can see a look in his eyes.

Flash…..

A black pickup is hanging in mid-air.  It twists and grows larger.

Fractured glass.

The driver’s hair is blonde.  There is a look in his eyes.

My hand flies out in front of my son.

Flash…..

It’s Friday before Spring Break 2005.  I’m going to see Grandma Dot and Grandpa Jack.  I packed the antique dishes Grandma Dot’s great-uncle gave her, that she passed on to me.  He was the US ambassador to Mexico once and he brought her back this set of white dishes.  I want to ask her for more details to complete the story about these dishes.  She always remembers the stories to everything.  But when I tried to ask over the phone, she wasn’t sure which set I was talking about.

They were last to load into the trunk.

“Darling, let me keep the kids.  I know you wonder if this might be the last time they’ll get to see the kids or not, but you’ll be stressed out trying to keep them away from the breakables at your grandparents.  I’ll keep the kids.  Just go, enjoy your time with your grandparents.”

My husband is wonderful.  Though guilt worries me.  What if this is the last time Grandpa is able to see his great-grandchildren?  But John’s right – Grandma’s house is not child-proof by any means.  I remove the car seats from the back seat, say goodbye to my children and leave them with John.

I always say prayers in the car when I go on a trip.

It’s Friday before spring break and Interstate 35 is filled with college students, excited for the break.  Mid-terms are over and I see kids hanging out of cars at 65 miles an hour whooping up the day.

It’s dangerous.  But I also remember college mid-terms and how delirious they make you feel.  Stress that only the young can take.  Why do we do that to them?

At mile marker 299:  The highway suddenly goes from three lanes to two, with no warning.

Some kids cut off a yellow moving truck; they’re trying to merge and going too fast.  The yellow truck practically stands on its brakes and every car around it suddenly fishes right or left to avoid collision.  There is a full shoulder on the left which only lasts for about one mile.  The young man in front of me and I quickly and successfully move to that left shoulder and safely get by.

Suddenly, there’s a force from behind me that is so great.

Can sounds blind you?

I look to my rear-view and see the demolition hitch.  It’s coming through my back window towards my head.  The white Ford F-350 doesn’t have a grill on the front.  There’s something else attached.  It looks like the front of a snow-plow.

The truck is so much higher than my silver Altima, that it never hits my bumper.  Unbounded, it plows through my back window and seat. The trunk of my car is center-punched down the middle.  Slammed, I collide into the car ahead of me.

For an instant, everything is black.

My hood blows.  Glass sprays like snow.  My shoulder hurts like hell.  My air-bag never deployed.

Just two weeks before this, I saw a little silver car smashed between the highway median wall and a semi truck on the way to the kids’ school.  I came home and told my husband, “I don’t want to drive a little silver car anymore.”

I guess I got my wish.

I start shaking uncontrollably and burst into tears.  I am going numb.

Flash…..

It’s just like a movie stunt, except without exciting music, and without a drumbeat.  Just my heart, ringing in my ears.

The little black truck is hanging high in the air – twisting, flying towards us.

I am frozen.  Caught between stories in time.

My stories.  My traumas.  My time-warp.  The words ring through me, “I just got a new home and now my child and I are going to die.”

And those aren’t spoken words.  There is no “hearing” of them.  They impress on the very soul, like a stamp.  Like a vice.  Punching through the heart and being.

My hand flies out in front of my son.  The truck slams to the ground on its nose and bounces, flipping towards us.

The driver’s hair is blonde.  I’m boxed in.  I can’t back up.

There’s nowhere to go.  I am frozen.

It is silent.


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5 Comments

Filed under Editorial, NaBloPoMo, Writing

5 responses to “Heartbeat In My Ears…

  1. So…. I’m experimenting with different writing styles, can you tell?

    It’s a true story though. I was trying to find a way to express everything going on inside me when this happened. So I sunk into the memories and just felt my way through. Obviously I left the ending out, but the exercise wasn’t about the conclusion, instead the middle and about how I relived a prior trauma as events played out. Kind of a different experience than the first collision I was in. I wouldn’t say my life flashed before my eyes, but my brain did make some interesting connections and flashed around in split seconds.

    The upshot? The truck landed and stopped within 8 inches of our car. Thankfully, the collision took place literally right in front of a hospital and the car next to me was driven by a nurse on her way to work. She immediately jumped out to help, I called 911. The young man amazingly got out of his flipped truck and walked away. The woman who ran the red light and hit him, I’m not sure. Never did know.

    PS: This is the first time I’ve really written anything deep about what happened to me in that highway car crash in 2006. Needless to say, Grandma’s antique dishes were lost in the crash. I managed to salvage one or two pieces. The driver of the construction truck that hit me was told it was illegal to drive on the Hwy with a demolition hitch, but he was never ticketed for it. In effort to avoid spinal fusion surgery, which I was at risk for with my allergies to antibiotics and opiates, I spent over a year in physical therapy to regain the use and strength of my left arm and hand. My husband deployed two months after I was hit. It was supposed to be a simple open/shut case in my favor. My totaled car was completely paid for, it was a matter of waiting on the medical conclusions. But my case was lost when my lawyer failed to appear in court and I was never notified. I had to discontinue medical care. To this day I owe over $15000 in medical bills that were not covered by insurance and that the case was supposed to pay. And I still don’t know what to do.

  2. Oh my. You did a great job of writing about that memory. Is it possible to sue the lawyer who failed to appear in court for you? God bless you!

  3. Wow, that was a very powerful post. I’m glad that you are okay and I hope everything works out best for you.
    Dropping by from NaBloPoMo.

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