By Hailey Stoner
Sarah is driving home after a thirty-six-hour shift at the hospital. She’s exhausted and struggling to stay awake. Her eyes become heavier with every blink. Sarah is only two minutes away from her apartment when her eyes slip shut while she’s at the wheel. She runs a red light and t-bones a minivan with an eight-year-old boy in the back seat. A police officer calls her husband to meet them at the hospital. He finds Sarah sitting on a bed in the emergency room clutching her wrist to her chest. The boy was killed on impact, while Sarah suffers only minor injuries.
It’s been one week since the accident and Sarah is unable to sleep. When she closes her eyes, she sees the dent her car left in the side of the van. She gets up and goes to make a cup of tea in the kitchen. Sarah sips it and turns around to see the boy from the accident standing in front of her. Sarah drops the cup and it shatters. Then he’s gone. “Sarah?” Her husband calls from upstairs. He comes downstairs and into the kitchen. “Sarah? Are you alright?” He walks towards her, avoiding the chunks of glass. “Honey, what’s wrong?” She doesn’t move.
It’s been a month since the accident and Sarah has started seeing a therapist. The therapist asks about the last time she saw the boy. It was yesterday. She was sitting in her husband’s car in the driveway. Her eyes were shut, her hands were on the steering wheel, and she was taking deep breaths. But when she opened them, she saw the boy in the back seat, through the rear view mirror. The funeral was a week ago, and the therapist asks Sarah if she had gone. She did. Her husband drove her. But once they parked and were about to go inside, she burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. The therapist wants Sarah to meet with the boy’s parents, once she’s ready. She thinks it’ll help Sarah forgive herself. But Sarah doesn’t think she’ll ever be ready.
It’s been four months since the accident and Sarah is finally meeting with the boy’s parents. The three of them sit in the living room. They offer her a cup of tea and start chatting. It’s all small talk at first, learning more about one another. Then they begin talking about the accident. About what caused it. How they handled it. Neither party coped very well. But it’s understandable. They talk longer, and the boy’s parents tell Sarah to stop torturing herself. They say they’ve forgiven her. Now it is only a matter of forgiving herself.
It’s been six months since the accident and Sarah is sitting at the boy’s grave. The hallucinations ended shortly after meeting with his parents. She lays a bundle of flowers on his grave. “I’m sorry,” she whispers, and stands. Sarah takes a deep breath and the wind begins to blow. She wraps her arms around herself and walks back to the road. She gets into the car.
“Are you okay?” Her husband asks from the driver’s seat.
Sarah says, “No, but I will be.”