Lanetta J. Sprott
Something caused Lindsey to wake from a dreamless sleep.
A faint glow fell across her face. A loud, shrill monotone resonated
against the walls. Fumbling her hand around the tabletop until she
found the control, she aimed it defiantly. When she pressed hard against
its button, the television clicked off.
Silenced blackness engulfed the room.
She tossed the quilt to the floor while gently tucking the recliner’s
footrest into position underneath. Then she listened—straining to hear
any movement, any unusual stirring within the house, or outside.
A gentle light from the spring’s full moon filtered through the
coverless windows. Once her eyes adjusted, she noticed the half-empty
glass of burgundy sitting near where the remote had been. Without
wondering what time of morning it was, or what plans she may have
had for the new day, she finished the smooth, dark liquid.
Lindsey stood and stretched, arching her back until several pops
sent a momentary relief to her stiffened spine. Moving away from the
chair, her thighs and calves and ankles throbbed with each step. She
managed to find her way to the kitchen, vaguely aware of the crystal
stem she still held between her fingers, its bowl cradled against her palm.
After pressing the switch next to the door, her now widened eyes
followed the shaft of light from ceiling to floor. The fragile glass crushed
against her clenched fingers as she realized it wasn’t a dream.
It was real.
“She’s doing it again,” Laurel called from the back seat.
“Stop picking at it,” Maggie cried as she gently pushed her
daughter’s hand away from the scab. “You’re only going to make it
worse.” A heavy sigh escaped as she turned back around, readjusting the
seatbelt across her shoulder.
Lindsey ignored the umpteenth warning and continued to fiddle
with the crusty glob of skin covering her left elbow.
Laurel grumbled, “That’s disgusting.”
“Who’s ready for some ice cream?” Wayne said, sensing his wife’s
growing frustration and knowing his youngest daughter’s lack of
“I am,” Lindsey responded first, and with the most enthusiasm.
“This will be good. I do need to get out of the car for a little while,”
“Laurel, how about you? Would you like something?”
“Root beer float,” she answered decisively.
Anticipating the taste of chocolate caused Lindsey to forget her
itchy, healing elbow. She turned her attention instead to the darkening
landscape and lighted billboards that flashed outside the car’s window.
“Are we there yet?” Lindsey had asked several times. In the mind of
an eight-year old, it had been a long trip already, almost two hours away
Shortly before suggesting the ice cream treat, her father had chimed
the latest answer: “Half way to Aunt Nellie and Uncle Dwight’s house.”
Lindsey loved Aunt Nellie and Uncle Dwight dearly and always
looked forward to visits with them. They didn’t have children of their
own and had always treated she and Laurel as grandchildren – spoiling
them with anything they wanted, within respectable reason. Since both
sets of natural grandparents had died early in life, Nellie and Dwight
had become the surrogates the family needed.
Although they were also her Daddy’s aunt and uncle, to Lindsey
they didn’t seem that old. Both were active with community service
activities and volunteered at a local nursing home. Nellie loved baking
goodies and Dwight always had a wood working project going in his
This trip marked a special occasion, however.
“They’ve been married fifty years?” Lindsey had exclaimed when
her mother told the reason they were going to Austin the next Friday.
“Yes. Isn’t it wonderful?” Maggie had answered rhetorically as she
continued wrapping the gift with the ornately decorated gold and white
“I’m going to make them a special card,” Lindsey said,
disappearing quickly from the dining room before totally completing the
Wayne slowed the Volvo as he took the exit off the Interstate. He
drove a short distance along the service road before announcing, “Here
we are,” as they pulled into the Dairy Queen’s parking lot.
Laurel turned off the book light and gingerly placed the novel in the
middle seat area. Before she left the car, she turned back and patted the
book tenderly. “I’ll be right back,” she said softly.
Lindsey overheard her sister and grumbled, “Why are you talking
to a book?”
“Because it’s my friend,” Laurel answered with conviction.
Thoughts swirled through Lindsey’s mind. She knew her sister had
many friends at school and in the neighborhood. Why would she call a
book a friend? She had no time to respond. Neither could she think of
anything to say, as everyone else was already heading toward the
building’s glass doors.
Throughout the ice cream break, savoring the chocolate flavored
delicacy, Lindsey pondered Laurel’s statement. A book is a friend? She
considered asking Laurel some questions, but decided to wait until they
were back on the road.
“That was so good. Thank you, Daddy,” Lindsey exclaimed as the
family walked back to the car.
“You’re welcome, Sugar.” He quickly kissed the top of her head
and then opened both the front and back passenger’s car doors. After
jaunting around to the other side, he managed to beat the trailing Laurel.
“My Lady,” he said gallantly, bowing teasingly as he opened her door.
Once she was inside, he slammed it shut and then quickly opened his
own and jumped into the driver’s seat.
“Everyone buckled in?” Maggie called out as Wayne started the
“Yes ma’am,” Lindsey and Laurel chimed together.
“Oops,” Wayne remarked. He had already backed out of the
parking space and had begun moving forward onto the service road
when the car’s warning signal went off. “Someone’s seatbelt is not
buckled correctly,” he explained calmly.
“It’s Lindsey’s,” Laurel quipped. “She’s buckled into the middle
“I can fix it,” Lindsey huffed.
The service recorded every call:
“This is the Operator. How may I help you?”
“We need an ambulance. There’s been a terrible
accident on the south bound service road of Interstate
“Are you involved?”
“No. I’m the manager of the Dairy Queen.” The
woman’s voice began trembling. “The family – Mother,
Father, and two young girls – just left here. I was outside
taking a smoke break,” she swallowed hard. “And, I saw
“Was this a single vehicle accident?”
“No. An eighteen-wheeler crashed into them. The
driver’s out of the cab and walking around, shaking his
head. He looks okay.”
The caller’s voice faded to a whisper. “I don’t think
anyone in the car could survive this.”
“EMS is on the way. ETA two…”
“Oh my,” the caller cried, interrupting the operator.
She gasped, then caught her breath.
“Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
The manager exhaled, letting her words escape
slowly. “The trucker driver is bending down over
something in the bar ditch between the service road and
the Interstate.” She stretched, standing on her tiptoes.
“Oh my,” her voice broke. As she continued, her words
grew in intensity. “It looks like someone may have been
thrown from the car. Tell them to please hurry.”
“They’ll be there any second.”
“Yes. I hear the sirens,” she screamed into the
phone. “I see the lights. They’re here.”
The manager hung up the payphone attached to the outside wall
and then ran across the service road. She waved her arms high overhead,
signaling for the emergency medical team to follow her direction, to
where they may find a survivor.
The next morning, the edition of the local newspaper reported:
October 13th: Three dead, one seriously injured, after
18-wheeler smashes into vehicle on service road of I-
35. The accident occurred shortly before 8:00 p.m.
Police report the uninjured truck driver failed to adhere
to posted speed limit. He faces at least three counts of
vehicular homicide. Additional charges are pending.
Repetitious beeping noises mixed with distant voices filled
Lindsey’s waking moments. A piercing throb in her head accented each
pulse of her heart. She tried opening her eyes, but found the lids too
heavy. She could only squeeze them shut harder, causing a crease to
form between her eyebrows. Her lips parted slightly, she wanted to lick
them, but her tongue wouldn’t cooperate. Then, after a few conscious
attempts to move either arm, she succumbed to the sleep beckoning her.
“Did you see that?” Nellie asked, stopping in mid stroke of combing
her fingers through Lindsey’s long dark hair.
“What?” Dwight stood, tossing the partially read newspaper on to
the floor. Within two steps, he joined his wife and looked into the small,
“She’s waking up. I just know it.”
“Nell,” Dwight said gently. “Now, remember what the doctor told
us. She’s not sleeping. She’s in a coma.”
“But, it’s been eleven days.”
“He also told us she might not be the same. She may have to learn
to talk and read again; maybe even learn to walk all over again.”
“Whatever she needs, we can handle anything. I know God will
help us through this trial and any tribulations in the future. She lived for
a reason. It’s not for us to question or doubt our strength.”
Dwight walked to the foot of the bed. His somber face tightened.
He shook his head slowly while glancing around the room at all the
tubes and lines connecting the little body to the foreboding machines.
“It’s going to be a rough road ahead. Especially, emotionally.”
Nellie combed her fingers through Lindsey’s long dark hair and
then pressed her palm against the bandaged forehead. “Poor child. At
least she has us.”
“Yes. And, with time and therapy, she’ll recover. I’m sure of it.”
A slight gurgling noise escaped from Lindsey’s throat.
“Doctor, Nurse, Somebody. She’s waking up,” Nellie called out
from the dedicated ICU room.
A nurse casually strolled in, humming softly underneath her breath.
She diligently checked the monitor screens that indicated the patient’s
different body pressures and activities. After opening the chart and
scribbling a few notes, she then explained the procedure again to the
“Dr. Curtis had induced the coma to give her body time to recover
from her head injuries. We stopped the chemicals last night. Now she’s
sleeping. Give her some time. The doctor will be in shortly to answer
any further questions.”