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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Break (02/06/06)

TITLE: Winter Incident
By Sandra Petersen


I jammed my feet against the floorboards to brace myself just before the bone-jarring collision. My mother screamed something; maybe I did, too. Glass shattered and metal ripped into metal. When I came to my senses, I tasted blood in my mouth and an eerie quiet enveloped us. The accident had stifled my parents' quarrel like nothing else could.

My mother and father had been bickering even before we piled into the car to go to church. Who knows what the argument was about? Who cares? They seemed to always be in turmoil over something. I believe that if that they had not been arguing my father may have been a more attentive driver and averted the crash. They were seated side by side in the front bench seat. I filled in a narrow space by the window. Trying to shut out their combative voices, I ran my tongue along my teeth and stared out at the snowy farm fields. I wished my younger brother David had not scrambled into the back seat before me. I would have welcomed the distance between myself and their argument.

As my parents squabbled, my father drove faster until we almost flew over the last hill. Ahead of us, a Bonneville was turning into a driveway. My father stomped on the brakes, but the icy road did not offer traction. Our car T-boned the other vehicle.

From his panicked cries, I could tell my brother was stunned but uninjured, although his seat had jarred forward. My father had a cut lower lip from his impact with the steering wheel.

My mother...if I remember nothing else from that accident I will never forget my first sight of my mother. None of us were wearing seat belts. Seat belt use was not mandatory at that time. The windshield did a poor job of protecting her. Blood and glass were everywhere. Crimson streams coursed down her face and spilled onto her nubby winter coat. Her eyes were closed and she was unresponsive. That was the last memory I had of my mother at the scene of the accident.

My father urged my brother and I to scramble through my open window onto the snowbank that blocked my door and go to the nearby farmhouse. My right leg ached with each step. Hours seemed to pass as we waited at the house. Finally a deputy sheriff came to carry me to the waiting ambulance. I felt sorry for him; I was a rather hefty nine-year-old, and he puffed as he carried me. I demanded to accompany my mother in the back, but the ambulance driver insisted I sit in the front with him. Later I learned that my mother had lost so much blood that she almost went into shock and died.

My father and brother visited me in my hospital room. I wondered a little where my mother was, but I was rather selfish and was savoring the special treatment I was receiving from the nurses.

Then one afternoon a nurse told me that my mother wanted to see me. After much maneuvering, the nurse wheeled me, plaster-casted leg and all, into her room. My mother's forehead was marred by a jagged black line of sutures. She gave a weak smile when she saw me. My response, I am ashamed to say, was one of revulsion. My breakfast and lunch rose at the same time into my throat, and I vomited onto my bedclothes and the floor.

Im sorry, I sputtered to my mother before I was returned to my room.

My mother spent a long time in the hospital, a lot longer than I did. Upon her release, she told me that even though the staff and my father told her that I wasnt dead, she thought they were lying. She had to see for herself that I was alive.

I would have liked to report that this accident drew all of us closer together, but I can't. The blowups between my parents became more heated and frequent. My mother suffered severe headaches. She experienced tingling when the severed nerves in her forehead finally healed. Glass fragments continually worked their way to the surface. She was so difficult at times to be around that I feared our family would break apart from the strain. Years later, I realized at my father's deathbed that he and my mother would never have separated. They needed each other.

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This article has been read 994 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Smith02/13/06
You have done a good job here. The only comment I would have is that we need more. I know 750 words is very limiting at times! Perhaps you could have left out something in order to fill us in more on the last line. It's very jarring and out of place, considering everything else in the story.
I think you could expand this into something bigger, if you wanted to.
Anita Neuman02/14/06
You kept my attention all the way through, but I, too, found myself wanting more information. Your description of that day is vivid and captivating. I think you could just rework how you sum it up. Keep at it!
Jan Ackerson 02/16/06
You have some wonderful details here--running your tongue along your teeth, your mother's nubby coat. Watch out for "my brother and me..." And I think the ending falters just a little...but your writing was very vivid and engaging; I could visualize every detail of the argument and the accident, and your POV was spot on.
Shari Armstrong 02/16/06
What a heart breaking account.
Cheryl Harrison02/16/06
Wonderful detail on the accident. My heart went out to the child. The end seemed a little rushed, but 750 words can do that to you. I hope you will consider writing this story without the word limitation. It would be a good article for a parenting magazine. Thanks for posting.
Pat Guy 02/16/06
You captured my emotions all the way through. And just a line or two is all you need to expand on why they needed each other so much. Good writing!
Virginia Gorg02/16/06
Very descriptive, but I agree that the ending seems too abrupt. Overall, good visual article.
Lynda Schultz 02/16/06
The resolution is hidden in that last paragraph, but it seems like the accident didn't contribute to it. I agree with the others - we need more information to go with beautiful, but mysterious, statement: "Years later, I realized at my father's deathbed that he and my mother would never have separated. They needed each other."

Good job.
Linda Watson Owen02/16/06
Oh, yes, beautiful descriptive technique in your writing! I felt like I was right there!
Debbie Sickler02/16/06
Well, everyone else has already pretty much summed up what I felt reading this. Good topic, interesting details, just expand the end a bit.
Maxx .02/16/06
Wow ... quite a story. You definately have a writing talent. Work on your pacing a bit so that the story develops and concludes evenly. THis could really be something!
Lynda Lee Schab 02/17/06
I agree that the story was interesting and well-told. As for the ending, yes, the last sentence seemed to come out of nowhere and threw me a little. Maybe just a brief paragraph earlier explaining they're need for each other and then tying it in at the end. Overall, a heartwrenching piece - I hope it's not true but the POV is real and believable. Well done!