Courtney was bleeding. Heavily.
She stands up from the wreckage, red blood cascading through her blonde hair. She calls out for her brother, smoke pouring from the car. His body can’t be found. She can’t feel anything except fear. Fear, and the overwhelming anxiety that her brother won’t ever respond.
“Dalton?!” she cries through the July air, the cold rain splattering on her broken glasses. Her jaw hurts, but she can’t feel that just yet. There’s too much adrenaline pumping through her to care about anything else right now. She remembers Zoey, her best friend, who was in the back seat, and whips around to see if she’s still there.
Courtney starts to hyperventilate. Why her? Why is she the only one awake and walking right now? Everything is starting to get hazy, when suddenly, she hears a stir. A groan, coming from the right side of the car. She runs over, her legs buckling slightly under her weight, to find Zoey. But not the Zoey she knew.
This Zoey’s legs were crippling. Knees broken, shins shattered, her black party clothes ripped and bloodied, with tears streaming down her pale, skinny face. “Oh God.” Courtney whispers, as she claps a hand over her mouth hoping not to vomit. This can’t be happening, not to her.
Courtney turns her head back to the car. The beige sedan is totalled, the driver’s side door having been ripped off completely, the back seats crunched against the back of the car. She realizes there’s no other car, it must’ve driven off. Or did they hit something else?
As Courtney tries to collect herself, she touches her face and forehead. She’s covered in blood. Thick, dark, red blood is covering the left side of her face. A giant gash is spread across her left cheek like a permanent smile. She begins to realize how many injuries she has. The pain starts to flare up. She has just enough time to fall to her knees and hear sirens drawing closer before she blacks out.
When she awakens, she’s blinded by bright, white lights from what she assumed was the ceiling. She hears talking, but it’s hushed and she can’t hear what the mystery people are saying. She tries to open her mouth, but to her horror, her jaw is wired shut. She feels herself starting to panic, trying to get up. But someone rushes over to her right side and before she can try to scream, she is sedated.
“Courtney,” says a woman’s voice through the fog, “Are you awake? Courtney’s eyes flicker open, and she sees the sight of her mother, eyes red and watery. “Hi honey, don’t try to get up, I’m going to explain everything”. Courtney blinks a few tears away, and nods painfully. Her jaw is on fire. Everything is on fire.
“You were in a car crash,” says her mother, her voice quivering. She had clearly been crying for hours, days maybe. “Zoey broke her legs… and she’s in a coma. She hasn’t woken up yet, but the doctors say she’s stable for now.” Courtney stopped hearing what she was saying at this point. A coma? Zoey was in a coma? She could die, she could already be dead. Courtney couldn’t believe it. This wasn’t some crazy dream.
This was reality. She had been in a real life car crash. A bad one.
And still no word on Dalton.
She snaps back to reality. Her mother had stopped talking, looking at her with those big, watery eyes. She’s clearly disheveled. She hasn’t showered. Her grey sweater was hanging off her shoulder. She already knows what her daughter is going to ask, but she’s not prepared to answer. She doesn’t have a choice.
“Dalton hit his head during the crash. He’s at Hamilton General Hospital. We’re at McMaster Children’s Hospital right now,” Courtney’s mother gets cut off by her daughter’s glare. She doesn’t care where she is, or where anyone else is.
She only cares what happened to her older brother.
“He’s in a coma as well, but…,” Courtney realizes what ‘but’ means. She feels her stomach plummet. “He’s hit his head very hard, love. He has brain damage… and they don’t think he’s going to wake up.”
Courtney barely has a moment to process this before her mother bursts into tears once again. All she can think about is Dalton. How could this happen? This couldn’t be real, could it?
Just then, a nurse jumps in. She has sharp, steel grey eyes, eyes Courtney will remember forever after that day. “Mrs. Beamish, someone would like to see Courtney if that’s okay.” Her mother nods, walks over to the door and stops crying, staring in awe as another nurse wheels in another bed, Courtney feels tears welling up as she realizes who’s just woken up.
Zoey stares back, face swollen, looking defeated. But alive, she’s alive. That’s all that mattered right now.