Instead of rationally thinking about the consequences, I had dived right into John’s garage searching for the motorcycle that I knew was in there. I had straddled the bike and taken off in a matter of minutes. The bike had twisted and sped through town, roaring beneath me. I had been reckless and caught up in my thoughts. I had missed the headlights looming bright in front of me.
The sound of metal crushing still echoes in my head. I can feel that my body is wrapped around the bike’s twisted frame in a grotesque fashion. I can feel the breaks in the bones throughout my body. Only my right arm has come through unscathed.
I silently survey my body. A broken arm, two broken legs, a broken rib or two. I try desperately to move my neck, which is uncomfortably positioned between two tires. I barely move it when I hear a slight snapping of the bone. Seems my spine is a bit damaged too. I am going to have to stay put since I’m wedged between the tire of a semi and John’s totaled bike.
I can hear an ambulance racing down the street. Seconds later I hear footsteps on the pavement and two men talking.
“No one could have survived that crash.” A voice says.
“Is s-she O-K?” A voice stammers. The footsteps are shakily coming towards the rubble of the motorcycle. I picture how my body must look. The goal is to remain still. I can’t risk frightening anyone.
“Fred here will check you out over at the ambulance, sir.” The first voice says, trying to remain calm. “Let us take care of the rest.” More sirens are sounding in the distance – a fire truck and two police cars. I can hear the man approaching the rubble slowly. My guess is that he is checking for any fuel leakage that could put him in danger.
I hear his boots stop by the bike. He bends over its twisted frame, gasping as he gets a look at my body. It must be worse than I thought if it shocked the EMT. He reaches two fingers to my neck, checking for a pulse.
“Fred! Fred!” He shouts into the distance. The sirens are getting closer. “Come quick! I need another set of hands.”
“Why?” Fred sprints across the road, his feet sounding on the pavement.
“She has a heartbeat.” The surprise in his voice is understandable. Any normal human wouldn’t have survived a crash between a motorcycle and an eighteen-wheeler.
“She does?” Fred is incredulous as well. He reacts quicker than his counterpart though. “Let’s get this bike off of her then.” The sirens stop and more feet join the pavement, their footsteps beating rhythmically in my head.
It takes four men to lift and twist the bike off of me. My bones groan as they move with the bike. They hurt less with each second and I find myself worrying about the shape that I will be in when I come out of this disaster.
“We need to get her into the ambulance.” Fred’s voice sounds in my head once more as I hear a stretcher clanging to the ground. The wheels clatter along the cement and stop inches away from me. I am rolled onto a plastic board and feel something close around my neck. Three sets of hands lift me onto the stretcher and everything goes black as a sharp pain shoots through my back.
When I regain consciousness, I cannot pinpoint the time of day or the location of my body. For all I know, I have been pronounced dead and placed in a morgue somewhere. I can just make out a bright light shining beyond my eyelids and feet hurrying around me. A pair of gloved hands is going up and down my body, checking for breaks and other damage.
“It’s incredible.” A deep voice breathes. “Her bones are already starting to heal. They’re healing wrong but they’re healing.” His voice was barely audible to a human ear, but I can make it out as though he had spoken the words clearly. “She should never have survived that crash.”
“Doctor?” A female voice asks. “What do we do next?”
“I’m not sure.” He answers sincerely.
“He’s too young to be handling this. They should’ve put a more trained surgeon on the case.” A voice whispers across the room.
“He was the only one free. Sometimes you have to take what you can get.” A female voice murmurs in return.
“Her bones are already healing. I guess we’re going to have to set them as they are.” The doctor says under his breath. I can smell Crest on his lips as he speaks.
I fear for the shape I am twisted into. I can not allow my bones to set as they are. I wiggle the fingers on my right hand before reaching it up to meet his. I expect him to jump. He doesn’t. He stands perfectly still, allowing my hand to grasp his.
“Re-break them.” My voice comes out harsh and dry. He leans closer to hear what I am trying to say. I repeat myself. “Re-break them. Then set them fast.”
There had been enough broken bones among my friends in the past 22 years that I knew what had to be done. My bones would heal and they would heal quickly, no matter what shape they were in. The only way to restore my shape was to re-break the bones and set them quickly.
A pain shoots through my body as the doctor cracks my left arm. I can feel the extra strength he had to use. Adrenaline is coursing through his body, making the veins in his hands pulse as he works through all of my bones – breaking and setting them to save me. His colleagues whisper many things about the impractical practices he is using at this particular moment. No one moves to help him or to get help. They are all rooted in place.
He finishes my last bone and I lay perfectly still for a moment. My eyes are still closed and my heartbeat is still slow. I can feel the bones molding to join each other and the joints that had once held them together. My heartbeat begins to pick up and I allow myself to drift into a dream world, where everything is the way it is supposed to be.
* * * * *
Howling by Pamela MacLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.