The steering wheel and dash are closer than they should be. I’m not sure why, but I’m not worried. I hold my arm up and invite the faces around me to look at it; it looks like an S. They don’t find it as funny as I do.
Now my seat is reclined and there are inflatable splints on both arms. I feel like a yabbie.
With each blink, my eyeballs are scratched. Fingers are holding my eyes open trying to remove glass. They tape my eyes shut.
I chew the gum in my mouth and wonder how I got to be here in an accident, when I don’t remember one happening. The chewy is crunchy and I ask someone to take it out of my mouth.
‘You’re going to hear a noise above your head now,’ they say.
And then they cut the roof off my car.
The helicopter is noisy and I can’t see anyone.
The hospital is busy and people are moving quickly. There’s something white above me and I can see my reflection on the shiny white surface. There’s a lot of blood on my face. I start crying and they slide the white machine aside.
Someone asks who they can ring. My parents are on holidays in Western Australia. My three brothers are in Adelaide, northern Victoria and Bendigo. I tell them I don’t really know. Maybe a friend from uni.
My uni friends arrive. They are looking down at me and crying. A nurse tells me I’m going into theatre. That must mean an operation. What could they be operating on?
In the head injuries unit of the hospital I share a room with three others. One girl has a metal ring around the outside of her shaved head.
In the physiotherapy room, I watch a boy my age also in a wheelchair. He has a brain injury and is planting kisses on his girlfriend’s cheek. She is sitting on a chair, smiling and she has the same sneakers as me. Her boyfriend and I both hit our heads on the steering wheel.
That day I feel lucky, with a broken arm, a broken leg and stitches down my forehead.
Other days I feel unlucky. My mum sits with my every day.
They give my clothes back in a paper bag. My jeans and shirt have been cut up the middle and there’s only one shoe in the bag. Mum throws the bag away.
A friend from school visits. She asks what my Dad said about the car.
That’s the story of my first car – the prompt in today’s I’m Blogging Every Day in May! with Clairey Hewitt.
I loved my first car; the disbelief that I was actually driving a car on my own and the independence I felt when I drove it.
But one night when I was driving back to university in Melbourne, I overtook a car and sat in the overtaking lane of the divided highway. Turns out it wasn’t an overtaking lane at all. Or even a divided highway. I remember headlights appearing (over the hill) from nowhere. I remember swerving but we collided head-on.
When I gave my statement months later, the policeman asked if I said anything as we collided.
‘Yes, I said ‘F#&%.”
And he typed up my statement. I wished I hadn’t told him; Mum and Dad would probably read it.