Caroline M.

United States of America

beep beep lettuce

Echoes Behind Us

November 18, 2019

     Everything was normal. It was a quiet night and it had been raining most of the evening. I had been working at the barn since around three o’clock and it was now seven fifteen. It was towards the end of October, so it began to grow darker earlier in the evening and lighter in the morning. By the time I had checked all the horse’s stalls and swept all the floors, it was dark out. I said one last goodbye to my favorite horse, made sure the cats were fed, and then walked through the dusty hallway out into the parking lot where my dad was waiting in our big four runner. I climbed up into the car and we pulled out of the parking lot onto the road. This had always been sort of a dangerous road, not anything too bad, there were sharp turns and it wouldn’t be too hard to run off the road. Our conversation was normal for about a minute or two. I showed my dad a video of JR and Chico, two of the horses who had been playing in the arena. JR and gotten down and started rolling around in the dirt as his brother cantered circles around him. It had been too cold outside this evening for Tarra to let them outside, so she let the freely run around in the arena.
We had the sunroof open so there was a small cold breeze coming into the car. It was a very quiet evening, that’s what was nice about being out in the country. There were no loud car horns, people yelling, or any other loud noises that would come from living in a city. All you could hear was the breeze moving through the dry leaves on dying trees. I turned my head to the right and leaned it against the cold window, peering out into the darkness of the forest as we drove by. I was mesmerized by the mist swirling through the small amount of light coming from the moon. That was until it was pushed aside by bright red lights shining on the road ahead of us. I sat up and leaned forward to get a better look. I couldn’t see much but I saw the outline of a person standing amongst the red flashing lights. 
We pulled closer and four boys were standing on the side of the road next to a crashed car, yet none of them looked old enough to drive. The oldest one was waving his phone around with his flashlight on screaming. “HELP! HELP!” As we pulled up I rolled down my window to see the damage. The car had run up off the side of the road into a large, thick tree. The airbags were out in the front seats, the whole windshield was shattered, and the car itself was smoking pretty badly. The boys ran over to our car. The oldest one looked like he was about 13, and the others were younger, but not far behind him. “Hey are you alright? Do you guys need help or a ride?” My dad asked. One of the boys was obviously injured. He was on the ground, his leg all twisted and distorted.He was holding it tight, crying and attempting not to scream. Another one was coughing out of control, gasping for air, while the third one was panicking. The oldest one was at the window of our car with tears forming in his eyes. They were all obviously in shock.
“Call 911. Call 911. Call 911!” He kept repeating gripping the side of our car. “There’s someone still in the car! Call 911!” He continued to shout. My dad grabbed his phone out of his pocket and was about to dial 911. Right before he pushed call, a man crawled out of the car, and staggered to his feet. “Do you need a ride home?” My dad asked carefully. The man stayed at a distance, but began walking in our direction shaking his hands. “We’re fine! We’re fine! We’re fine!” He repeated. In between coughs, the kid cried. “No call 911!” The man ran over and grabbed his kid by the arm and squeezed it tight. The kid struggled free shaking and gasping. 
“No! Don’t call 911! We’re fine! We’re fine, we’re fine, we’re fine!” The man was screaming at the top of his lungs now. The man walked back over to his car. He turned around and screamed at the kids. “Come over here now! We’re fine! We are going to get back in this car and drive home!” He yelled, but none of the kids seemed to want to follow him. “Dad! What happened! One moment we… we were fine! Then I looked up and we hit a tree!” One of the other kids cried. “Come over here now and get into the damn car!” The dad was yelling louder, waving his arms around in the air. He looked like he was going insane. At this point I knew something wasn’t right, my heart was beating loud and fast, and I was getting scared. 
The oldest boy ran over to his dad and screamed. “We can’t dad! The whole windshield is shattered! We have to call 911!” He yelled so loudly and aggressively you could see the tendons in his neck pop out through his skin. The dad ran back over to his kids and tried to yell so we couldn’t hear what he said, but we sure did. “We can’t call 911! I’ll get in trouble! I’ve been drinking!” Now it all made sense. He was drunk, driving fast, hit the tree, and somehow thought he could just drive away thinking all the kids would be fine. Even the one on the ground in severe pain. It was obvious he wasn’t a great father, putting his kids in danger in the first place by drinking, and then only focusing on himself while his kids were practically dying! He was trying to gather each one of them up, but they were fighting against him. He grabbed the youngest one, but the other two that could stand pushed their dad and grabbed their younger brother back. The man was becoming extremely hostile, ready to hurt his own children. By now my dad was re-dialing 911, but the man saw that my dad had his phone out. “NO! NO! NO!” The man screamed and came running at our car.
My dad dropped his phone, grabbed the wheel and started to take off as the man chased us from behind. “No! Come back help us! Noooo!” I heard the kids scream and cry as we drove away. The image of their scared eyes as their dad attacked them was glued into my brain along with the image of the kid’s messed up leg. As we were driving I shook my dad’s arm. “We need to call 911.” I said, tears streaming down my face. My dad continued to drive without saying a word until we reached the one steep hill that fed out onto one of the main roads in the area. Half way down the hill was another truck that had run off the road and was stuck in a ditch. There were two men, and they both looked just as drunk if not more drunk than the last guy.
There was one guy in the front, trying to back the truck out of the ditch, while another man stood in the truck bed jumping. I couldn’t tell if he was actually trying to help his buddy, or he was drunk enough that he thought he could have fun in a situation like this. No matter what, it was clear everyone who crashed was drunk and trying to get out as quickly as possible before they got in trouble. I was sitting there shaking and still wondering why my dad hadn’t bothered to call 911. Once we had gotten a little further away from the whole situation, my dad finally grabbed his phone and dialed 911. We told the police what had happened and they said they were on their way.
I knew it wasn’t a big deal, but I couldn’t help not sleeping that night, and I didn’t know why. Maybe it was the fear I saw in the oldest boy’s eyes, or their screams for help as we drove away, or the way the father obviously was abusive towards his children in such a hectic situation. Even though it wasn’t a big deal, I couldn’t shake this feeling. I can’t stop hearing their screams. I can’t stop seeing their pale faces full of worry. I can’t stop thinking about how we drove away, as their cries echoed behind us.  

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