Falling from the hood of the Clyde’s car, Sandra lay face down and motionless in the snow packed alley. The wind blew underneath the back of her thin jacket causing it to billow, the cold piercing the bare skin of her back. In and out of consciousness Sandra heard a man’s voice. In waves of coherency, she tried to understand what he was saying, tried to move her mouth to respond. No words would come. She felt as though her head was the only thing left of her body, as if she had become detached from the rest of it. She could not feel anything besides the pain in her head. Behind the shadow of the man, she saw a blinking red light coming from a car that sat very close to her feet. The shadow hung over her, talking but making no sense. A large gust of winter wind blew her long red hair in a frenzy. Opening her eyes from the abrupt chill, she stared for an instant into the dark eyes of the talking shadow. Then he was gone.
It came out of nowhere, like a crouching animal, hiding, waiting to pounce. Moments earlier I had locked up the store, gotten into my cold car, turned the ignition and the lights on. The wipers scraped across the frozen windshield trying to remove a layer of heavy snow. As I pulled away from the store looking through a small clearing in the windshield, like a bullet something had slammed onto my hood so quick and so hard, my foot slammed the brake sending the shape flying to the ground in front of the car.
“What the…” I yelled. Peering through the window between the thumps of the wipers, I squinted hoping to see the animal run away. All I could see was more falling snow. Debating whether to go investigate the damage to my car and whether I wanted to involve myself with a possible injured or angry animal, I slowly backed the car up. If there was nothing there, I would drive away and assess my car in my warm garage. But there was something there. And it was not an animal. Lying a few feet from the car was a person. I grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and sank my head into it trying to think what to do next. Clearly I didn’t see this person who came out of nowhere. Certainly it’s not all my fault that I hit them. But what if the person is dead. Maybe I should just drive away. No one is around. No one would know. Could they prove it was me? I had just gotten my license back after 3 years of traveling by bike. AA was keeping me sober and I bought this car just a few months ago. “Christ,” I said out loud slamming my fists on the wheel. “God damn it.” I slammed the wheel again.
I shut the car off and slowly opened the door. The temperature was dropping and the wind blew tiny shards of ice into my face. I looked around me, besides my car and this person, there appeared to be no one around. Pulling my collar up, I approached the figure on the ground who was lying face down. “Hey” I called, “are you all right?” I got closer and yelled again, “Hey, you, are you okay?” I looked around me again before I knelt down. Gently grabbing the hood of the jacket on the body I lifted it up revealing a mess of red hair. The sight was like a fist in the gut because I knew then who I had just hit with my car. “Holy shit. Holy shit.” Trying to assess her injuries, I gently rolled her body over onto her back. I pulled the hood in around her neck to keep the snow from filling in the gaps. “Sandra? Can you hear me? Are you hurt? Talk to me. Sandra!” I checked her neck and could feel a faint pulse. There was a small amount of blood at her mouth but I didn’t see any coming from anywhere else or seeping through her clothes. The police had said they couldn’t find her, yet here she is, unconscious, in the snow. I already knew I would not call the police or take her to an emergency room. I did not need any police attention. I did not know anything about this girl except that she may have lost a necklace in my store and could be the one who was asking for help.
I ran back to unlock the back door to my store, pushing the alarm code quickly before it went off. I used a door stop to keep the door open while I ran back to Sandra. Getting both my arms under her small body was easy but carrying her limp body to the store was harder as I slipped around on the fresh snow and ice. Reaching the doorway I took Sarah to the back of the store, away from the windows, and carefully laid her down on a rug on the dark floor. Her body lay limp and she still made no responses to my questions. Running back outside, I looked over the area where Sandra had been lying on the ground, making sure I had not missed anything that belonged to her. I drove my car back and forth over the spot where I found her then backed my car up and parked close to the back door. The snow was coming down heavy and quickly covering my tire tracks.