The following is an excerpt from Party of Six
I heard the shrill squeal of tires that could not stop and watched the car slide sideways. Smoke billowed out of the back. The child screamed, his face making a hard smack when it connected with the car’s grill. The small body was thrown up and over the hood, rolling and tumbling until he hit the pavement with a sickening thud. At rest on his stomach, face to one side, a trickle of blood escaped his nose. The stubborn dumbness of the deafening quiet was the worst. I waited for a cry, but nothing. The driver jumped out of her car as I pulled out my cell and dialed 911.
“I didn’t see him, he just came out of nowhere. I was only doing about 20,” the driver cried.
A neighbor ran past her to check the child’s vitals and start CPR. I gave the address to the dispatcher on the phone.
“He looks about 6…no, not conscious…he’s not breathing, but someone is doing CPR. Please hurry.”
The mother of the little boy ran out of the house next door. Looking around frantically, she spotted her son motionless on the street.
“¡Miguelito, no, mi Miguelito! ¿Ah Dios, él está muerto?”
People swarmed around the child and his mother, crouched next to him.
“Come on breathe, damn it, breathe!” the frustrated man said pushing down on the boy’s chest.
“One….two….three…four…five…” another neighbor counted as the man continued with the chest compressions.
The weeeoooeee, weeeoooeee, and whoop, whoop, whoop of sirens signified the ambulance and police were arriving. The throng of gawking neighbors was herded away from the street as police cleared a path for emergency vehicles. EMTs took over and got the little boy breathing again. After smoothly lifting him onto a gurney, with his head immobilized, they loaded him into the back of the ambulance and helped his mother clamor in to ride beside him. Slamming the door shut, the wheeled white box with its orange stripe lurched forward, speeding to the hospital, sirens once again taking the lead. The little boy was teetering on the edge of life and death, but the EMTs were hopeful once the boy regained consciousness.
As the only person to witness the accident, I gave my statement to the police. After the ambulance left, people got bored and drifted off, leaving the street to become quiet suburbia again.
I felt numb. Looking for a place I could escape to before my tsunami of emotions blasted through, I succumbed and collapsed on my former front lawn. Sobs racked my body violently.
Squeezing my eyes tight shut – so tight it hurt – in hopes of containing the feelings that would pull me under, I tried to keep the memory at bay. I lost the battle and got sucked into the undertow. This happened before, right here, on this dingy little piece of street. Except I was the mother running out of her house that day. The difference being that Robbie was killed when his body hit the pavement with the same sickening thud. On the ground, his head positioned at an odd angle, eyes wide open, vacant, the quick spark that made him my son, gone.
Lined with cars on either side, this street, like so many other suburban enclaves, was the perfect place for children to dart out from between the parked cars to retrieve their treasures. The woman’s words today, “He just came out of nowhere…” invaded my mind like a switchblade cutting through caution tape.
That’s why we moved. We could never live here again after what happened to our child. Every time I pulled into this driveway, I saw it happening all over again. We moved to a bright, sunny, 3-bedroom mock Tudor that we thought would allow us to start over, but that was not possible. Although time eased the pain, Drew and I were never the same after that. We were two lost souls whose essence had evaporated, gone like a ghost in the night.