The first thing you hear is screeching tires. Then you turn in the direction you think it’s coming and you hear breaking glass. Then everything spins and spins.

The next thing you remember is waking up with tubes in your arm. And a jackhammer in your head. And blurred vision. Then you go to sleep.

You eventually open your eyes to find your husband standing next to you. Behind him, your parents. They’re all smiling. They start talking to you, but the only thing you hear is a loud ringing that drowns them out. You move your head to shake the ringing and lightning shoots down your legs. Their smiles turn to panic. A nurse arrives. And another. They adjust tubes and turn dials and you go to sleep again. The last thing you see is your husband calling your name.

Some time later, your heart leaps to life. The ringing in your ears is replaced by soft, beeping tones that rise in volume before nurses rush in. Different nurses. Nurses who bark commands to each other as they turn dials and adjust tubes. More beeping. The pain is gone. You try telling the nurses that you’re fine, but they ignore you. So you sit up and pull the tubes out of your arm then walk out of the room into the corridor where people are running toward you. Past you. Into your old room. You start walking along the corridor and see your husband in a bright waiting room with a snack machine and small television. His eyes are red. Your children are with him. Your son is sleeping on his lap; your daughter is on the floor coloring a picture of a mermaid. You take a breath, smile, and announce that you’re ok.

But they don’t respond.


Jim Mitchem

Somber Solstice

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.