A Moment Of Pain
By Janelle Hamel

Everything went black. I woke up with blood running down my forehead. The windshield was shattered. I climbed out of the jumbled heap of “car” to approach sirens and flashing lights…

It was an icy January twenty-fourth and I had just gotten off the phone with Alex. He’s on his way over. I raced around my house trying to put on make-up and do my hair at the same time. As I was curling the tendrils that hung over my cheekbones, they blared the horn for me to come outside.

“Make sure you wear a coat, it’s cold outside,” my mom said.
“Yeah, okay.” I replied.

I threw on my black South Pole jacket and ran out the door. When I got to the car, someone in the backseat opened the door for me. Someone I had never met before. His name was Elijah. I thought twice about going after realizing that for me to fit in the car, I had to sit on Elijah’s lap. I didn’t like the looks of this. But I figured, what do I have to lose? I was going out with my best friend and the guy I’ve had a crush on for the past two months, what could be better than this? So I climbed up onto his long slender legs and we pulled out onto the icy road.
We drove down to the end of my street, the traffic light turned red and Alex came to a stop.

“Okay guys, where we goin’?” Alex asked.
“I dunno, its Nell’s neighborhood, I never been here before.” David said.
“Alright, uhhh, anyone hungry? We can go up to McDonald’s and then Kristen and I can go visit my friend Courtney.” I replied.
“Aright, sounds good.” Alex said.

He made a right, onto route twenty-nine, and headed towards the McDonald’s in Collegeville. When we got there, it was dark and rainy.

We all poured out of the car and found a table to plop down at inside of McDonalds.
My stomach churned and growled almost as loud as a monster truck revving its engine, mainly because I was so hungry and nervous at the same time.
Mmmmm, the fries tasted so very good. Not too salty, not too greasy, and that perfect crunch as you bite into the ends. Kristen and I shared fries while the guys shared a large Coke. Heather … well, I don’t know what was wrong with her. She refused to talk to Kristen or me. I just assumed she was a snob.
After Kristen and I had warmed up inside of McDonalds we decided to walk over to Courtney’s house, which was only a five-minute walk from where we were. Nobody else wanted to go with us. Alex suggested that Heather and he go pick up Chris in Lansdale. Not realizing what time it was, I agreed, along with everyone else. Kristen and I stepped onto the snowy ground and trekked up the hill towards Courtney’s house.
Her mom opened the door in response to my knock.

“It’s ten o’ clock, Courtney’s in bed,” She told me.
“Oh my God, I am so sorry. Tell Court that Nell stopped by, please?” I said.
“Alright,” her mom replied.

Kristen and me ran back to McDonalds as fast as our legs could carry us. My curfew was 10:00! When we arrived back at the fast-food joint, David and Elijah were sitting at a table and just my luck; Heather, Alex, and Chris were not back yet. It was the first time I had ever been home past curfew.
Fifteen minutes after Kristen and I had gotten back from Courtney’s house; Alex, Heather, and Chris screeched into the parking lot with the stereo blaring and the windows rolled all the way down. The way he was driving scared me, but he was my only ride home.

“Alex, it’s way past my curfew, I gotta get home NOW!” I exclaimed.
“What time was your curfew?” he asked.
“10:00! I am so dead!”

We piled into the 1995 four door Saturn. Chris sat on my lap and Kristen on David’s lap. Even worse, my best friend was sitting on my biggest crush’s lap. The streets were deserted and I wearily glanced around town as a chill went through my body. The light was red and I suggested that we just go since nobody was around. Alex refused because he didn’t want to take the chance in his mom’s car. When the light turned green, he made a sharp left turn back onto route twenty-nine.
Somebody, I don’t remember who it was, encouraged Alex to swerve the wheel a few times. I closed my eyes and felt like I was flying above the ground in a dark place. I woke up with a shattered windshield in front of me, and the smell of burning rubber. The flavor of blood in my mouth overwhelmed me and tasted like it had been there for a long time. Not realizing how extreme this car accident had been, all I was worrying about was how much trouble I would get into with my parents. To escape from the car, I had to climb into the driver’s seat and out the door. Chris, Elijah, and Alex were already out.
It took a few minutes until the cops, ambulances, and firemen appeared on the scene. When I started talking to a cop, I had finally comprehended what had just happened. It occurred to me that it was a severe problem and not just a small accident.
Heather got out of the car and was hysterically crying to me.

“Nell I’m really cold, I can’t feel my body, help me, help me.”

I gave my jacket to her and held her until the paramedics came. Then I walked over to the car and noticed that David and Kristen were still in the car. I tried to open the door but it was stuck. I kicked it a few times and finally it flew open. My best friend Kristen was going in and out of consciousness. Whenever she woke up, she would scream for David.
The cops finally approached Kristen, David, Chris, and me. They took our names and made us call our parents. Elijah and Alex couldn’t even remember their name, age, address, or phone number. I had finally burst into tears. It was much worse than I had ever imagined.
The helicopter landed in a nearby field to retrieve Heather and Alex. Chris, David, Kristen, and I were put into the back of a police car and checked out by a doctor. The pain bombarded my icy cold body all at once like a dagger slashing through a tough block of ice. My head throbbed as if a thousand migraines had all hit at once and my legs had scrapes up and down the front and back of them. On top of it all, my best friend was lying in the back seat not even remembering who I was.

“Kristen, I love you, you’re gonna be okay. Just hold on.” I cried.
“Where’s David? David. David.” She groaned.

The next few minutes were a blur to me. They put me on a stretcher and drove me to Brandywine Hospital to be treated. David and Chris sat in the front of the ambulance and David was trying to comfort me from there. The next thing I remembered was lying on a bed with those curtains around me, throwing up all over the place. David and Chris got to go home that same night. I didn’t. At first they were going to let me go home, so I called my dad and he came down to the hospital. Once he got there, they decided to keep me overnight. I had a concussion and they wanted to be able to check on me every two hours. What a nightmare. I didn’t get any sleep. I had to sneak to the bathroom because I wasn’t allowed to go without being assisted by a nurse.
Once I was able to go home, I was home from school for a full week. I felt terrible. All I could think about was the others. All the parents could talk about was suing Alex. I was confused.
By that Saturday, I had talked to David. The news wasn’t good. Heather had a lacerated liver and internal bleeding. She had gone into a coma and was on the verge of dying. Kristen was unconscious, had a sprained wrist, and a broken ankle. All the guys had gotten sent home already, lucky. I was highly worried for everyone, but I was also worried for myself. I cried that whole week. I cried because of the choice I made in the beginning of the night to get into the car with someone I didn’t know. I cried for my friends who were hurt very badly and how I had gotten away with a concussion and a few scratches. I cried because I failed my parents. I cried because Alex had messed up.

That was two years ago. I am still hesitant to get into a car with people I don’t know. I wish our friendships hadn’t ended like that, so abruptly. But, life goes on and we all go through things we don’t understand. So, when you are making a decision that may cost you your life, choose wisely. Anything can happen.

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