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Over Sky

Ryan Priest

    The black Chevrolet sped away driven by Elliot Leonard Davidson. The car held tightly to the road but not recklessly. The night was too important to risk an accident. The destination, the homecoming dance. The first dance of the year, the first dance Elliot had ever been to and the first date he had ever had was probably already there waiting for him.
    Charlotte Samantha Johnson had been the most beautiful creature in Elliot’s life through his junior year in high school. He had watched her from behind corners with peripheral glances without ever having worked up the courage to ask her out.
    She was from one of the better families in the community. Elliot’s family was one of the worst. Two bad brothers had already passed through Wilson High ruining his reputation before the first day of his freshman year.
    Elliot himself wasn’t a bad boy but it made no difference. His last name was Davidson and the Davidsons were a bad lot. The teachers just assumed that Elliot was so good at being bad as to never get caught in the act.
    Senior year, Davidson or not, he could wait no longer. He could spend no more nights lying awake wondering if he’d ever have her. So with homecoming dance approaching Elliot had asked Charlotte to be his date.
    Without hesitation she had said yes. No pause, no reflection, the answer had always been yes only he’d been too nervous to ever ask for it before. Charlotte was on one of the committees and had to be at the dance early so the two were set to meet there.
    The tie kept choking Elliot each time he would swallow and his hands were sweat-stuck to the steering wheel. He hadn’t ever been this anxious before. Everything had to be perfect.
    He’d envisioned the night countless times. He could see the two of them dancing and laughing. So clear it all appeared in his mind’s eye. What was less clear was the shape of his car through the dust covered windshield of the truck heading towards him on the other side of the road.
    Elliot took note of the car’s swerving. It was ok. He could get passed. He knew this land like the back of his hand. He’d grown up in the same house he’d been born in.
    Now he was two miles from home and three from school all along the same winding road streaking down the hillside.
    Elliot gave the truck a wide berth as they passed. Only when Elliot got closer did he notice a metal pole poking out from the bed and making ready to take his car across the windshield.
    “Please don’t do this to me.” Elliot felt the soft words leave his lips without sound. He wasn’t speaking to God or to the other driver but to Life and Fate, the only two truly impartial forces in the universe. “Please don’t do this to me...not now.”
    It was instinct and not wisdom that made Elliot jerk the steering wheel to his right. Just an inch. That’s all it took for the speeding Chevy to slide off of the road and then flip over onto its side. It landed on the steepest part of the slope and then it rolled again and again, and again.
    The purple clouds, the silver moon, the green trees and the black Earth did somersaults in the window. The metal roared and the glass, all of the glass, shattered crystallizing the air.
    There was heat coming from somewhere. A moist heat through his entire body nearly suffocating him. Something was bad, really bad.
    Elliot didn’t open his eyes. He knew he was still alive through the sound of his own gasping breath. The heat was still assaulting him from all sides. Was he on fire? He concentrated, it wasn’t fire. It was pain.
    Was anyone coming? Elliot had to open his eyes. He would look straight ahead though and not down at his body, whatever was left of it. Elliot prepared to open his shut lids when the horrible thought occurred to him: What if I’ve lost one or both of my eyes?
    The mental picture began to form itself, a mangled, mutilated body in an equally mangled car. The body, torn to pieces tries to open its eyes but only one blue dot can be seen because the other’s hollowed out with some sort of viscera in place of the missing eye. Elliot shuddered and the shudder racked his lungs. He had to chance it.
    Elliot opened his left eye and then closed it. He then opened his right eye and closed it. Each seemed to be in working order. He opened both making doubly sure not to look at himself.
    He was upside down, but the car wasn’t. He wondered how that had happened but just as quickly dismissed that line of thought, too many disturbing possibilities. His mind next wandered to Charlotte.
    He could see her as he’d imagined her, standing alone at the punch bowl waiting for him to arrive. Only this time he wasn’t coming, his fantasy coming true without him. He felt sorry, not for himself but for Charlotte. She’d think that she had been stood up. Sure, sooner or later she’d hear the grim truth but that wouldn’t make up for the humiliation she’d feel tonight.
    Was anyone coming? It had been...some time since his wreck. It seemed at least enough time for the other driver to have stopped to help. Elliot listened for footsteps or car engines or some sort of man made sound. There was only the creaking of crickets and a flutter of some unseen bird’s wings. No one was coming.
    He needed to look down. He might only have a cut. He’d feel stupid bleeding to death because he didn’t have sense enough to tend to the wound. There was that but there was also the fear that he might look down and see only puddles of red. He had been thrown around pretty hard and now he was upside down. That kind of thing didn’t happen without some sort of traumatic injury to the body.
    Elliot had been careful not to move a muscle, not even a twitch. What if he tried to move a missing limb? Then he’d know it was gone and would always be gone. As long as he didn’t know one way or the other there could be hope. Nothing was set in stone.
    Taking a deep painful breath of knives into his lungs, Elliot let his eyes drop. He had to know.
    Jesus Christ
    Elliot didn’t know how to feel about what he was looking at. His legs were gone at the knees and through both of his thighs bloody rods of steel stuck in and out from every angle. His stomach, or at least the skin over it was gone. He no longer had any organs it seemed, only a mashed mess of congealed sludge oozing out all over the legs.
    Sorry Charlotte, I tried.
    There was a calmness in knowing his situation. Elliot Leonard Davidson was dying. The pain went back to just feeling like heat and the sound of his breath grew fainter.
    He thought back to the dance he’d never get to. Charlotte would do okay. She had looks. She’d get to dance with someone else. Elliot was generally a somewhat jealous person but now there was only compassion. He hoped she’d have fun. He had tried and failed and sometimes that happens. Not everyone is meant for great things.
    Elliot said goodbye to Charlotte, in his mind. His voice had already left him. He looked down at his body feeling no pain, anger or shame. It was okay that his legs were gone, he was going too. It was all okay because he’d been an okay guy. No fears or even regret as the violet blanket of night closed down on him. His last thought was of Charlotte, the way she’d sounded when she accepted his invitation, the looks he caught from her in the halls and even the dream of her at the homecoming dance in a beautiful red gown...it could always be red, the night could turn out however he wanted, nothing had been set in stone.

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