I wonder what Dad’s head looked like splat up against the window. His head split down the middle, a little jagged, with his brain smeared all over. A bloody constellation, sort of.
The police call it brain matter, not just brain. I don’t know why.
Mom was crumpled up in the passenger seat, crushed to bits. Blood oozing out of corners and cracks. Her eyes were closed. She died scared.
Sissy was strangled by her seatbelt. You know how people tell you not to ever get in a car without your seatbelt on? She listened but she still got herself strangled. It snapped her neck. They don’t know if she would’ve lived without it, but she definitely didn’t live with it. But her eyes were open, not squeezed tight like Mom’s or split apart like Dad’s. She saw Mom and Dad get squashed before the wreck even got to her.
I never got to see them after the accident, but I imagine it a lot – what they looked like. I remember what they were wearing.
Dad had on a green camping shirt, the one he wore to mow the lawn on Fridays. He mowed the lawn every Friday after work. He said it was calming. Mom said it was unnecessary.
Mom had on a yellow shirt and these stupid jean capris I told her made her look like she had cankles.
And I don’t know what Sissy had on or how she had her hair that day because I didn’t see her. She was at camp before the accident so I didn’t know how she was dressed. I imagine lots of different things. Sometimes she looks like a Mary Kate and Ashley movie and sometimes she looks like a dirty hobo and sometimes she just looks like she came home from school but sweaty. Mostly I don’t look at her clothes. Mostly I look at her eyes. When you get strangled, your eyes bulge out. So her eyes were bulged way out. She had pretty blue eyes, my same color. It was good that they got bulged and not some other part of her, like her boobs, even though she probably wouldn’t have minded that.
They say that Dad lost control of the car and it spun out and hit the median on I-96. Since it was the middle of the day and not raining and not heavy traffic, they don’t know how he did it. They don’t know why he spun out, they just know he did. But there wasn’t any alcohol in his blood so he wasn’t drunk.
Nobody told me this. They told Gran on the phone and since she still has a landline, I picked up the upstairs phone and listened. I always listen whenever the phone rings at least for the first few minutes. You learn so much that way.
If I had a daughter, I would listen to everything she said on the phone. I would pick up the phone every time she did.
I didn’t start listening until after Dad and Mom and Sissy died. I wish I started sooner, though. I don’t know what Sissy talked about on the phone every day. I bet it was good, though. I bet she talked to lots of boy and about lots of important things. She always seemed like she was doing something important.
After Mom, Dad, and Sissy all died, I spent a lot of time wanting to be dead. Not so much because I didn’t want to be alive anymore but because they were dead and I wanted to know what death was like. What it feels like for them. I still do.
Brother Rainer says on Sundays that death is being with God. He came over to Gran’s house after the accident to tell me not to worry because Mom and Dad and Sissy all loved Jesus and had accepted Him into their hearts before they died, so they were in heaven. Sissy said she did, but sometimes she rolled her eyes during church or pulled strings out of her dress instead of listening to Brother Rainer while he was preaching. So maybe she didn’t.
But I don’t think they went to hell, not even Sissy. And I don’t think they’re in heaven yet. I think they’re waiting for me.
I like to think that they’re taking their time getting there. That Dad and Mom and Sissy are holding hands as they fly through outer space to get to the edge of space where there’s only dark. There, on the other side of space, at the edge of oblivion and heaven is where they’re waiting for me. They’re going to wait for me. We’re all going to go together. They wouldn’t go without me.
Photo by Daniel Cantagallo
Maddie is an undergraduate Drama student at NYU Tisch. Her writing has been published in Mercer Street,named the best essay by a Tisch student for the 2012/2013 academic year, and praised by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.