Urgent voices are calling out. I try to open my eyes. The sun. I’m not dead.
Can’t keep my eyes open, too bright. The heat… Something is wrong with my head, the pain blots out everything.
I am lying on the tarmac, it’s so hot already. The pain. I can’t feel the back of my head. Am I crying? The car, the shock. I’m scared. The kids.
Voices. People telling me to stay with them, not to worry, emergency services are on their way. What’s my name, I whisper back. I’m fine, I didn’t get run over by the car. Something’s wrong. I’m so scared, I cry, someone’s hand holds mine. An explosion of pain has replaced the back of my head, the rest of me feels sort of fine. I’m not gonna make it to that meeting. I should go home to the children.
The shock. Terrifying. I flew up like a leaf, a dustmote. We are so insignificant against cars. They’re so heavy. Something about kinetic energy… I’m not dead. I’m scared. The pain is out of this world. The children are alone at home. Someone is crying in the background.
I feel so tired, the pain, I can’t go on like this. Why is the ambulance taking so long? Could they please find a cushion for my head? Urgent whispering above, I guess they’re worried about moving my neck. I lift my head and place my left hand under it in desperation. I cannot touch the right side. Someone hands me a cushion. The pain. I am crying, this can’t go on. Must call someone for the children.
The ambulance is here, I didn’t hear it come. What’s my name, today’s date, please don’t move me, can I look at the light, look up, frown, smile with teeth. They are focused and efficient: This is their daily life. Not mine. How’s the pain on a scale of 1 to 10: I say 8 because I want to be brave but really I can’t go on like this.
A catheter is in, please make the pain go away. They’re going to move me, the pain, I’m scared, I need to sleep. They keep asking me to stay with them, it’s like an episode of ER except we’re not in the 1990s in snow-struck Chicago. This is July 1st 2018, in the heatwave-struck French Alps. George Clooney is nowhere to be seen, and even if he was I would probably not care.
We’re in the ambulance, it’s cool and shady at last. I’m not going to die, I’m on my way to the hospital. The pain killers kick in, the doctor has my phone. I give him the code and tell him to go into Favourites to find Liz’s number. Answerphone. Mr Xmas: Praise the Lord I don’t believe in, he picks up. I’ve had a bike accident, I’m in an ambulance on my way to the university hospital. The kids are alone at home, can he go look after them. The teenager needs to be on a train to my parents’ tomorrow morning. The tickets and his railcard are in my bedside drawer. He should call Liz, she always knows what to do. Ok, I’m back, cool and collected in emergencies.
The doctor hangs up. No, wait, something is wrong, I can’t keep it up, every movement of the ambulance is pain, I’m scared, I need to sleep. The doctor lets me close my eyes. I hear the siren.
To be continued.