A raven squawking brings me out of the memory I have half created. I look at it perched on the monstrous oak tree; it looks at me unblinking, like it knows me. A cold chill goes down my spine and I shiver. I look back to the grave and can’t breathe again. My head feels heavy and my throat tightens as I try holding back my tears. My vision blurs. I look up to the dark gray sky and squeeze my eyes firmly shut.
I don’t understand, why her? Why not me? Then it’s back. The memory begins to unfold once more.
I push the steering wheel sharply to the left, my jaw clenched. I feel my body being thrown to the side, my shoulder slams into the door but I hold on through the pain. There are screams. Then I hear the sound of screeching metal and then darkness.
I smell petrol, smoke and blood. I open my eyes; my head is on the steering wheel. A warm, sticky liquid runs down my nose and as it reaches my mouth I taste iron. I try to move my left arm, but I can’t. I panic as I continually try to move it but it won’t budge. My right arm however, I use to wipe the blood from my damp face.
As I do so I look to my right. I want to scream but no sound comes out. My little sister is looking at me, terrified. She gives a deep rattling breath. She moves her lips a little but she can’t seem to form any words. Oh god! I think to myself, as I see the blood forming around the tree branch that’s pieced in her chest. I squeeze my lips together and take a breath as I use my good arm to take her hand which is firmly by her side. It’s going to be fine I tell her, she only blinks in response.
I look frantically around but there isn’t anyone around not even the little girl. I try to move, try to free myself but there is no way, my arm is firmly stuck. I look back at my sweet, little, innocent sister and let the realisation that she will probably die here sink in. I can’t cry or break down I think to myself as I take her hand back in mine and just talk to her. She listens and tears fall down her cheeks as I tell her stories of our childhood. I know that these funny stories don’t dull the pain but I hope and pray that it’s enough to keep her strong.
Her breathing starts to get shallower and shallower by the minute and her skin is beginning to drain of colour as the blood on her chest spreads and spreads. I love you I say when I know that the time has come to say goodbye. Her mouth twitches, her eyes flicker and she lets out her final breath like a sigh and she’s gone.
It’s like a nightmare. I remember this path, the site, the smell. Even though I’ve only physically been here once in my life, I’ve been here hundreds of times in my dreams. As I get closer the old oak tree comes into view, the one that’s stands beside her grave. I stared at for what seemed like hours the day of her funeral. It looks exactly the same. The branches are thick and twist in and out of each other. I still remember following the lines on the branch of the tree that hovered above my head. There are no leaves on it; just old decaying moss. It leers over me and casts shadows all around me. Dead leaves litter the ground underneath it; they crunch under my feet as I get closer and closer to her.
My chest starts to feel tight and my heart is fluttering, I take a deep breath but it doesn’t relax me. I stop a few paces in front of it; I can barely make out her name on the grave. Out of everything in this god forsaken place it’s the only thing that’s changed. The flowers that were once bright and vibrant are gone and in its place, long, sharp weeds. I would have guessed, if I hadn’t known myself that no one had visited for years. The marble isn’t white anymore; the moss has changed it to a yellowy, green colour. The rain has weathered away the words but they’re etched in my mind.
Loving daughter and sister’
And just like that, it’s back again, that horrible moment of impact.
The music is always the first thing I’m aware of, my sister’s favourite song at the time. She is singing along laughing as I turn to look at her just for second. I give an over exaggerated groan in pretend disgust. I turn to look at the cracked road, my hand tight on the steering wheel. I sigh as I start to think about the large amount of work I have to do this weekend. I can feel the strain in my forehead as I frown. She asks me what’s wrong and I tell her it doesn’t matter. She is quiet after that.
Suddenly there she is, the little girl. I’m never sure if I actually saw this or if my mind made it up. She is standing on the side of the road. Her blonde hair is being tossed behind her by the wind. Her dark blue winter coat and her blood red tights are the only vivid colours that I see. The background behind is just black and gray. Then she darts out in the road. All I see is a blur as we get closer and closer to one another. I feel my heart freeze in my chest as slam the brake on. I see her eyes, those bright blue eyes widen in fear for just a second.