Sweat was dripping off my forehead, drenching the towel around my neck. My heart was thumping so hard I thought it would break my ribs. The concrete and pebbles seemed hot and rough beneath my palms. I felt a cold and heavy sensation on top of my legs. I instinctively knew my bicycle was pressing my legs to the ground. All of a sudden, the whole universe went silent in my ears. No traffic noise that I heard every single day, no rustling sound of trees swaying in the breath of summer wind, nothing. I stared at the night sky for brief seconds before everything went dark.
* * * * *
It was a regular Sunday morning in the middle of July. The sun was shining through the shutters. The sky was crystal clear. No cumulonimbus was in sight. The gentle wind was blowing my brunette hair from my face. Small yellow butterflies were flapping their delicate wings among the little purple flowers in the park. Lush bushes dotted the grassy field. Bubble of happiness filled the air. A golden mini Pomeranian was running around, barking and fetching sticks for its owner. Some people were jogging in the paved paths circling the park. A hint of cinnamon and lemon was carried by the wind. The sound of laughter and giggling echoed through the park.
I was 11 years old back then. Wearing a simple T-shirt and summer shorts, I was running around on the open space, playing a traditional game, called “Petak Jongkok” with my neighbors. It was similar to Tag and the only difference was in “Petak Jongkok”, the players could squat in one spot to avoid being touched when they were cornered. They could not move or get up until another players who were not squatting and not ‘it’ touched them. The game’s rule was simple, just like our little mind. We were chasing each other with little care of the world, laughing carelessly, letting the positive energy flow into our bodies. A day with no homework, no school, no studying, and full of fun and laughter was a perfect day.
Time flew very fast in a blink of an eye. The sun was setting in the horizon, leaving a vibrant orange sky in its wake. I glanced back at my friends, waving my hand in the air, saying goodbye as they were heading in the different directions. My voice echoed across the empty park.
Observing a little butterfly alighted on a flower on the way home, I lost track of the time. I gazed upon the sky, discovering it was dark in a matter of minutes. The dread inside me was rising. The specter of getting scolded by my parents scared me to death. Being stuck inside my house with no televisions and games allowed was my worst nightmare.
I strode towards my bike, parked by an ancient Banyan tree. Steadying myself with the bike, I placed one foot on the pedal and the other one on the ground. I grabbed the handles on both side, ready to launch and let the night air filled my lungs for brief seconds before darting on the road to my home. I was the last one to leave the park that evening.
My legs were pedaling furiously, eager to get home before it was totally dark. I could not hear anything, riding in full speed, except the gust of wind blowing in my ears. My mind was blank. My eyes fixed on the road in front, no glancing left or right.
The fear of being late was overwhelming. Droplets of sweat began to form on my forehead and hands, leaving the handlebars slippery under my palms. I was panting heavily. The rush had left me exhausted. My pace grew slower and I began to notice the surrounding. Gazing upon the sky, the moon was high, illuminating the world. The sound of rustling leaves drifted in the air. Then, a sudden light flashed in my eyes and the next thing I knew I was hit by a car.
I blacked out for brief seconds. I saw nothing, just pitch black. My eyelids felt heavy as if a thousand pounds of potatoes were put on my eyes. My eyes slowly began to open, my surroundings coming into focus. My body was numb, all of my senses dulled, my hands were all scratched up, and legs bleeding and sore. The car stopped in front of me, lights illuminating the dark road and engine humming steadily.
Suddenly, unbearable pain jolted up from my legs and hands. I screamed in pain and tears began forming in my eyes. I placed my palms on the ground, pushing myself upward, supporting my body to stand up. The driver came out from the car to help me, his face showing worry and panic, sweat dotting on his forehead. I wobbled weakly to the car, supported by the driver.
I could not make out what color the car was or which type of car or what the driver looked like. Seating in the backseat, my crooked bike in the trunk, I rested my head on the leather seat, thinking how my mother would react, seeing me in this terrible condition and being horribly late. I stared through the dusty car window, watching trees moving harmonically blown by the warm night breeze. What happened next was a blur.
I woke up in my own room, the usual Rapunzel poster on the right side of the wall, light bulbs glowing dimly in the ceiling, and pink flowers decorating my lavender wallpaper. I gazed across the room, staring at my yellow rabbit calendar, processing what had just happened to me. Everything moved so fast and sudden, I did not have the chance to take in the series of events. “Oh, I was hit by a car,” I mumbled to myself.
Tilting my head sideway, I found my mother, sitting next to my bed, her short brown hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. Her eyes filled with worry and her lips tightened with fear. Realizing that I was awake, her eyes widened in relief, her face relaxed, she grabbed my hand tightly and said to me gently, “Never do that again, okay? Don’t worry me to death ever again.” I nodded slightly and tears began swelling up in my eyes.
A mixed feeling of relief, guilt, and happiness was pouring out from inside me. Words could not describe how grateful I felt for simply breathing and living with (my) hands and legs still attached to my body, my eyes worked perfectly, I could still see my mother’s beautiful face, my ears could hear the unstable breathing she had, trying to fight back the tears. I could have lost one of them in that accident, maybe even all of them, but I did not.
Looking at my mother’s reaction, I realized how great her love towards me and how important I was to her. She hugged me tightly, as if I was the only person in the world and patted gently on my back. Her warmth washed over me, calming me down. Never in my life, I felt this blessed. It was the first time in my life I was thankful for having such a caring mother and for being granted a beautiful life.