Lucky Day

It was a good day. I couldn’t have asked for more, looking back at it. I’d slept in. Ran around the park for a few hours. Saw some pretty girls, more than one of whom waved or whistled. Found a chocolate bar, the good kind, dark with nuts, still in the wrapper on a bench. Took a few minutes to peel the plastic off and really savor it.

In light of what happened, maybe I shouldn’t have lingered over that candy. Things might have been different. But at least my last meal was a good one. I’d had worse, after all. When you’ve had days where all you ate was the remains of a greasy burger, gone cold and almost rancid, going so far as to lick the rainwater out of the paper it had been wrapped in just for the last bit of taste in it, finding an abandoned and forgotten Hershey bar is a gift from God. Even if it was a little melty.

My lunch finished, I hurried on. I was planning on heading over to the 7-11 at the corner. Maybe have a drink to cap off the chocolate. I was pretty equal opportunity in that department; didn’t matter if it was a Slurpee, a soda, or a shot of Jim, Jack or Jose. Just something wet.

Normally I’m pretty cautious. Maybe even skittish. Crossing the street has never been easy for me; some might even think I’m phobic. Usually, I get up to the curb, peer both ways, then inch back. Then creep back to the edge, check again, then back away again. Sometimes I’ll do that six or seven times before I manage to get up the courage to actually cross, and when I finally do commit to it, I bolt as fast as I can, feeling almost suicidally brave. Takes me an hour to calm down.

I saw three little boys coming out of the store, sucking on neon-green Slurpees that had me drooling while they punched each other amicably and swapped stories. I don’t know if it was the chocolate, the sight of their drinks and the want for one of my own, or just how good I was feeling that day that did it, but this time I didn’t do my little dance. I just charged.

Everything is pretty blurry after that. I remember a dip as I practically dove off the sidewalk and into the road. I remember seeing a stray bit of brilliant green ice-choked syrup beading at the head of one of the boys’ straw, and every bit of my concentration focusing on it as it slid down the straw and fell to the pavement. I felt like I could track every tiny splashing drop as it hit the ground and splattered.

Then there was pain. Pain that devoured my world. I forgot about the Slurpee. I forgot about the chocolate. The pretty girls who’d waved were gone. How good I’d felt after a long nap and a good run didn’t matter anymore.

There was nothing but agony. Every nerve in every bit of my body from the waist down felt like a storm of angry bees stinging simultaneously. Then pressure, building up from my waist, seeming to flow up into my chest and my head, almost enough to make my eyes pop out of my skull, to drive my tongue out and silence the shrill scream that I didn’t even realize I was making.

I tried to turn my head, to look down and see what had caused the pain. I couldn’t move. I think I managed a twitch, but that might have just been my body shaking. I tried again, and even though it made everything hurt even more – something I didn’t even think was possible – I made it.

Below the waist, I was a bloody ruin. One leg was gone; I could see it lying in the gutter several feet away. The other was skewed to the side in a way that told me my hip was destroyed. But the middle of me was the worst. There was a ragged imprint of tire tread almost exactly across my middle, and I could see the ragged edges of my guts leaking out of me, my insides trying to be my outsides. I’d seen things like that, but usually only when a cat or owl got ahold of a mouse but was driven off before it could finish whatever it was up to.

I knew I was done, then. There’s no way I was going to make it through that. I could see the car that hit me, continuing on like nothing had happened. It was a big blue monster, seemed like it must have been hundreds of times bigger than me. As it pulled away, I saw a little smear of red, a splotch of the jam that used to be me, rolling back up into the wheel well, disappearing, then reappearing again, leaving little bits of me on the asphalt as it went.

The boys didn’t notice, either. They rounded the corner, and I felt an absurd pang of sorrow and desire run through me. I tried to shout after them.

“Hey, come back! Give me some of that Slurpee! Can’t you see I’m dying, here?”

I tried to say it. Nothing came out but coughs and wheezes. Probably decimated my lungs along with my digestive tract.

Someone noticed, though. A little girl. Pretty, in a sad way. Barefoot. White tights, frilly skirt. Big floppy bow in her black hair. Maybe she thought she was a ballerina. She bent down by me, getting her tights all dirty. The next car was coming, and I heard the unearthly wail as the tires locked, followed by unintelligible shouts. Probably the driver cursing her out. I don’t know. It was getting hard to focus on more than one thing, and that made me angrier than it should; I was used to being aware of almost everything around me, all the time, and barely being able to look at this little girl who was trying to help me was infuriating.

She bent down, extending one pudgy hand and stroking my face. I saw her eyes start to water and her mouth pursed, chin quivering.

“Poor guy,” she said.

There was a creak and a thud, and heavy footfalls. A shadow fell over the girl, man-shaped. The shadow head was shaped weirdly, extending out to either side, making me think of pictures of Saturn I’d seen. He must have had a hat.

“Oh, honey, don’t touch him.”

She didn’t stop stroking my face. The pain was lessening; coming in its place was an almost comforting numbness. As that crept up my body, the anger was also fading, replaced with gratitude. I was dying, but at least I was going to do it in the company of someone who cared.

“Why not?” I heard her ask. I couldn’t see her anymore; everything had gone black. My hearing wasn’t very good, either. Her voice sounded like it was coming from far away. But I still heard the man when he answered her.

“It might be rabid, honey. Or have some other disease.”


“Poor little squirrel,” she muttered.

Then everything was gone. Better luck next time, maybe.

KA Spiral no signature


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