Tanya knew his sleep was precious so she immediately hung up, and then she worked the night shift at Fred Meyer, up in Bellevue. She would have gotten home after Tom was a few hours into his day.
Open your eyes, Tanya! I squint. Everything is blurry. Where are my glasses? My head hurts so much and I am so tired. All I want to do is to close my eyes, go back to sleep. But I don't know where I am. Where am I? What is that flashing light in front of me? I open my eyes to let in a bit more light, and I see the dashboard with its yellow and orange car controls. I reach my hand to the fluorescent image, but it is beyond my reach. I turn my head to the left and I can see the black molding inside my side window. I see glimpses of the color of my car, the beautiful blue of my wonderful new car.
My eyes snap shut again as I erupt with a cough, dislodging saliva and blood from a corner of my mouth. Oh, it hurts so much! I spit out the oily blood, not knowing how precious those drops of moisture would become.
I try to breathe, but my chest feels stuck. It won't expand and I can't get air. I don't understand. I exercise all the time and I'm in such great shape, why can't I breathe? I pull my eyes open again. I reach up to my face to brush the messy mop of hair aside, and then I see that my fingertips are bloody. I touch my forehead again and it stings. It is raw. I check my fingers. More blood.
It starts to make sense. It is the steering wheel of my car, my beautiful Honda, the first car I ever bought new! But everything is broken and twisted and I am trapped inside it. I am pinned against the steering wheel and I can't see much but the deflated air bag, which blocks my view. I press at it, try to move it aside.
Oh, my body hurts! My left shoulder, my God, the pain is horrible! My arm is hanging from my side at an odd angle against the door. I can't move my arm. I don't even want to wiggle my fingers. The pain is unbelievable. Oh, my God, the pain! It's searing! My left side feels broken, disconnected. My left clavicle and my left shoulder are burning with pain that is deep, intense, in the bone and in the joint.
I can see out, through the broken window, but I can't make sense of it. Where am I? I see branches and leaves. Everywhere, all around me, blackberry bushes push in through the broken windows and up against the glass. I catch the aroma of the cedar trees, so nice, fresh.
Something is applying pressure, holding me against my will. So tight! I am trapped, pinned. It's my seat belt. I'm cramped and I can't get a decent breath of oxygen into my lungs. I try to suck in a breath but the air seems to go right through me. My chest hurts so much as the air stings my insides.
I try to free myself but I can't reach the seatbelt release. Clawing with my right hand, I feel metal. Then, my fingertips make it to the edge. With all of my mental and physical energy—everything I have—I command my fingers to take back my freedom, to pull upward on the metal. But I lose. The strap is so tight. It cuts into my body, pressing like a piece of metal. I wish I'd bought seat-belt covers to soften them. My body hurts, everywhere that my seat belt holds me—my left shoulder to my right hip and across my pelvis—it all feels bruised. I wish I could get my seat belt off!
How did I get here? What happened?