New Memoir Tuesday! This weeks prompt was: It’s a fill-in-the-blank-for-your-own-prompt Prompt: The first time I ________-ed after _________-ing.
The first time that I got hit by a car I was eight and spending the summer with my mother. We had just dismounted the bus and were walking down the tall, wide, white sparkling sidewalks of Riverside California towards the mall to buy me summer clothing. My mother had decided that what my father had sent with me with wasn’t good enough. I’m still not sure how she assessed that situation given the fact that she had already been going blind for several years.
We were waiting at the cross walk. I had my arm through my mother’s and when the walk sign flashed, I led her out onto the street. Unfortunately, a not so sober guy in a large green sedan decided that what he really needed to do at that moment was make a left turn on a red light.
My mother took the brunt of the impact and ended up underneath the car while I, still mostly bouncy cartilage went flying down the street. So far down the street that when I came to, I was in the gutter looking at the backs of the legs of the crowd that was listening to my mother scream my name.
“Ma’am, who’s Jennifer?”
“My daughter, she was with me, where is my daughter?”
“Ma’am, Ma’am! What does she look like?”
There was a dramatic pause where I could so well imagine her withering look as she contemplated the IQ of the asker of the question, I may have even giggled out loud. Being fair, at this particular moment there was nothing to indicate to anyone that she couldn’t see.
We were lucky, other than my mother’s concussion, physically we came away from the incident with nothing more that some bad scraps and bruises.
Mentally I came away with an absolute terror of crossing busy roads. I mean palm sweating, heels digging in, sit down on the ground and refuse to cross the road terror. Given the nature of desert California, where it is 105 in the shade, this actually didn’t present much of a problem for the rest of the summer. But when I got home to Maryland it was a huge problem. That meant I couldn’t walk to school.
My stepmother Lynne being the type if woman to handle things straight on had come up with a plan to cure me of my terror.
We put my baby brother Isaac into his blue vintage baby stroller and headed for the nearest busy street. The closer we got the more panicked I became. My fingers were wrapped tightly around the metal handle of the stroller and her fingers were covering mine, for support and just in case I totally freaked out and bolted.
“We’re going to watch and wait a couple of lights. How does that sound?”
I had no saliva left and only responded with a tight nod.
“See the cars coming from the south?” she asked. “You are going to stand on this side of the stroller so that it is between you and the cars, ok? Then when we get half way, where the cars are coming from the north, you are going to switch sides so that the stroller is still between you and the cars again. Do you understand?”
“One more light and then we try?”
More panicked nodding.
And it worked. Everyday we went walking with Isaac in his blue stroller and every day I used his tiny baby body as protection against my fears, until one day I simply wasn’t afraid any longer.