The crunch of metal was nothing to the explosion of pain Eva felt when her head hit the windshield. Neglecting her seatbelt might have been unwise, but fastening it wouldn’t have saved her. The car was squashed, the driver’s compartment pressed nearly flat, glass shattered everywhere, fallen onto Eva in a shower of jagged crystals.

For what seemed an eternity she sat pinned in excruciating pain, waves of nausea sweeping over her, her bare, bloodied, beautiful young legs crushed, pinned beneath the collapsed steering column. Blood obscured her vision as she struggled to free herself, jagged breaths full of fear and disbelief came in gasps until finally, sweet quiet and darkness overtook her.

Suddenly she stood beside the car.  Why wasn’t anyone coming to help her? Why was she all alone?

The car she’d saved all year to buy had become a squashed, ruined cage of metal around her motionless body. Inside, her blonde hair was a cascade on the carseat, blood flowed from her forehead. She tried to open the car door but it wouldn’t budge. Some distance in front of the car, an enormous truck had gone off the highway, skidding into the roadside ditch and coming to rest against trees.  She could see the driver still in the cab.

Then there were sirens, and firemen, emergency medical technicians, pulling up and rushing toward the car, radios blaring, someone shouting the driver was trapped, running through and past Eva as she stood watching. Watching them pull her from the car, watching their attempts to rescue her.

Eva watched as they administered CPR, watched them bring in the jaws of life. She watched them fail to save her, watched, as they gently lifted her from what was left of her sawed-open car. And in disbelief, she watched the uniformed men remove her body and carry it to the ambulance, load her car onto a tow truck, and drive away.

Left by the road, looking around, Eva was lost, not sure what to do next, or how to return home.  There were police officers standing by the truck, speaking with the driver.  She looked at her hands.  She wore a friendship ring made of polished sea shell.  Seeing this, she began to walk toward the exit ramp she’d used to enter the highway.  She had to find Rowan.

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