You are spitting blood. That’s all you know. At this exact moment, you are trapped in a wrecked vehicle, and there is blood in your mouth.
You’re a college girl, on your way home for the weekend. It was raining. You lost control. Then a crash. Tumbling. Falling. Downward.
Now you can’t move your legs. You’re pinned by a steering wheel. Your pulse is weak. The thumping in your head is like a marching band.
You’re drifting in and out of consciousness.
Your memories are replaying. It’s funny what you remember when you’re dying. Not the things you’d expect. You remember things long forgotten.
Your little sister’s Christmas musical. A hand-painted Easter egg. Macaroni and cheese your mother used to cook.
The way you felt after your mother died.
You remember raising your sister. You remember changing her diapers. Cooking for your father.
And in your final moments, you think about your mother.
You didn’t know her past the fourth grade. You don’t remember much about her at this age. Only what you saw in photos.
You used to dress in her clothes when you were a little girl because you missed her. You’ve missed her for a whole lifetime.
But your father and your sister needed you to be strong. So you pretended. Still, you were only faking.
Now you are upside-down in your own vehicle. An airbag in your face. Red everywhere. You’re dying.
You’re scared. You use your voice.
“Mama,” you say.
You’re not sure who you’re saying it to. It’s coming from your gut somewhere. You say it again.
And you see her. She is a woman you know. She is familiar.
She’s here to save you. She works the door open. This is a strong person, you’re thinking. She cuts your seatbelt with a pocketknife. She frees you.
You cough up more red.
She drags you through tall weeds, over a steep ditch, across a highway. She places you into a car.
“It’s gonna be okay, baby,” she says. “Just hang on.”
You try to get a good look at her, but you can’t see.
“Mama,” you say. “I love you.”
“I know, baby,” she says.
You recognize her voice. This is the woman who gave birth to you. She touches your cheek. Her arms hold you. She loads you into a car.
You’re in a backseat. She is sitting with you. You hear an engine running wide-open. You’re falling asleep.
“Mama,” you say again. “Don’t leave me.”
“I’m here, sweetie,” she says. “I’m always here.”
The world goes black.
You wake in a hospital room. The white lights hurt your eyes. Your father is beside your bed, so is your sister. They’ve been crying so hard their eyes are puffy.
You’re trying to figure out where you are, and what has happened. It’s been a long night.
There’s a man in the room. They say he’s the one who saved you. He was on his way home last night when he found your car in an embankment.
He freed you from wreckage, loaded you into his backseat, and drove you to the ER.
He says he would’ve driven right past your wreck if it hadn’t been for a woman. The woman was standing on the highway shoulder, in the glow of his headlights, flagging him down.
“Help that girl,” was all the woman said.
The man says doesn’t know where the woman came from, or where she went. But that’s all right.
Because you do.