I sat on the curb, a block from home and so far from it.
The man who hit me was there, asking how I was. He was gentle, kind. I couldn’t even hate him, and I wanted to. My head hurt out of control. All I could do was cup it in my hands and groan, and that’s exactly what I did. I wondered where this was going.
The young woman walking her dog was calling 911. There was a guy next to her milling around, like people do when they want to help but don’t know how. Even in this epically sucky moment, there was compassion, kindness. This was the Chicago I knew.
The traffic took on a persona of its own. Cars alive and breathing. Exhaust mixed with the frosty air, and it was hard to tell which was which. I watched in a daze as the bus I was on moments earlier drove off with the Friday traffic. As if it weren’t complicit in this.
The leg, the one that had absorbed the car’s impact, hurt from the hip all the way down to the ankle. It made no sense, and that bothered me. Still, think about how much worse this would be had the puffy coat not softened the blow.
In the ambulance, the legs shook in the way that teeth chatter. Come to think of it, that was happening, too.
“Why am I shaking?” I asked the paramedic.
“You’re in shock.”
I felt a deep chill, the vibration of quaking limbs, and acknowledged the fear. For the first time since the car struck, tears. The paramedic, a maternal woman with long blonde hair, noticed them glistening and asked “what’s wrong, honey?”
I’m not sure if it was the absurdity of the question or the sweet way she asked it. But I got to laughing and couldn’t stop.