Within a few minutes, the sound of sirens rushes across the school parking lot. The heat from the pavement causes the emergency vehicles to waver surreally, as if they’re an illusion speeding toward me. I stand numbly next to the wreckage as the firefighters hurry forward to free the lady trapped inside her car. The kid who rolled off the side of the bleachers screams as the paramedics lift him onto a stretcher. His leg is twisted at an odd angle. It’s definitely broken. Coach points to me, and I’m cornered by a pair of medical technicians.
They quickly begin triage and seem confused when they wipe away the dust and find that I’m perfectly unharmed. I snap out of it enough to convince them I’m not suffering from shock. While they’re distracted I sneak away and make my way toward the crew working on the crushed car. The firefighters are holding what looks like a giant pair of pruning shears, and are clipping metal away from the roof of the car. The woman inside seems cognizant, and is speaking shakily to the paramedics in a heavy Spanish accent. How did this even happen? I should have died under those bleachers.
I look around to see where her car came from. I see a pair of tire tracks dug into the discus field. Apparently the car drove across a slightly raised planter, through the field and straight into the bleachers. The distance is too far, there is no way she would have seen the bleachers about to fall and made it all the way across the field in time. Why did she do it? Things like this don’t just happen. Especially for me. I take a step back and my foot wobbles on something uneven in the dirt. I look down and see a screw as big around as my thumb and bent in the middle. I stoop down and roll it around in my hand.
I’ve never picked up two souvenirs in the same week. A pair of hands grasp my elbows and a firefighter ushers me away from the growing pile of car scraps. Ben takes me from the firefighters grip. “Are you okay? What did they say? ” He asks. “Let’s just get out of here,” I whisper, starting off toward the parking lot. “Wait, we can’t just leave. Don’t we have to talk to someone? The paramedics? ” “I’ve seen them, I’m fine. Let’s go,” I say. Ben doesn’t say anything as he leads me to his car, but keeps eyeing me cautiously, like he expects me to break down and cry or something.
He drives home too carefully, slowing his car to a crawl as we make corners. When we pull into my driveway he jumps out of the car to open my door for me. He gently grips my elbow and tries to lift me out of my seat. I twist my shoulder, pulling my arm out of his grip. “You can stop acting like a firefighter now. There aren’t any girls here to impress,” I say, standing up on my own. “What? I’m just trying to help,” Ben says stepping back. I raise an eyebrow at him. “Oh come on. I saw you sizing those guys up,” I say. Ben sighs with admittance. “Did they really have to flex so much?
Sadie Lawrence was practically drooling as they were sawing the door off that car. ” “Girls are so morbid,” I shake my head and finally, we both smile. Ben shoves his hands in his pockets. “But seriously Liam, for being the unluckiest person I know you sure are the luckiest person | know,” Ben says. His phone starts making a quacking noise from inside his pocket. “Alex… ” Ben growls between clenched teeth. “He keeps changing my stupid ringtone. ” He pulls his phone, reads a text and his jaw drops. “What is it? ” | ask. “Channel 12 is at the school interviewing people! ”
My stomach tightens. I’m glad I’m out of there. Ben starts texting wildly, then stops mid stroke to glance up at me. “Go on. I know you’re dying to get back there,” I say “Are you sure? ” He asks. “Positive. ” “Cool. I’ll see you tomorrow. ” Ben darts around the front of his car. His car peels out of the driveway. He isn’t driving nearly as carefully now that I’m not inside. I scuff my shoe on the driveway, then turn around and head inside. I open the door and before I even take a step inside, I notice Nix. His arms are crossed, his face cold. “Are you okay? ” I ask, glancing at his sour face.
I step in and shut the door behind me. “I’m fine. What about you? ” He says flatly. “Perfect. ” I shrug. He stares at me harshly as I turn toward my room. I make it a few steps down the hall when he calls out from behind me. “Are you going to tell Mom this time? ” I stop. He knows what happened? He must know, or he wouldn’t be asking. I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. Am I going to tell Mom? I look down at myself. The only thing wrong with me is that I’m covered in dust. This accident would be even easier to hide than the last one.
“Tell her what? That I fell in the dirt? “|| ask. Don’t even act like that. I heard what happened. The phone has been going crazy. ” “And you’re- angry? ” I ask, genuinely confused. “Of course I’m angry,” Nix says, raising his arms like it should be obvious. “What is there to be mad about? You’re mad a bunch of bleachers randomly decided to fall on top of me? ” | ask. “No, I’m mad that you were under them when they fell. I’m mad that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time again,” he says. I honestly have no idea what to say to him. He’s not making any sense. “Liam, you’re always doing things that no normal person would do.
Who drowns, gets a concussion, and is nearly crushed by bleachers all in the same week? You’re doing something wrong Liam. It’s got to stop. ” “You think I’m responsible for all this? How am I supposed to know when some crazy accident is going to happen? Believe me, if it were possible for me to know, I’d be living a very different life. ” My voice is nowhere near the depth of his. Nix groans exasperatedly and starts to walk off toward the kitchen. I follow him, not trying to hide the irony in my voice. “But you’re right. I could be more responsible. Why don’t I go live in an iron lung? Heck, I could even get a food taster. “