Finding Closure

Lanetta J. Sprott

PRELUDE
Something caused Lindsey to wake from a dreamless sleep. A faint glow fell across her face. A loud, shrill monotone resonated against the walls. Fumbling her hand around the tabletop until she found the control, she aimed it defiantly. When she pressed hard against its button, the television clicked off. Silenced blackness engulfed the room. She tossed the quilt to the floor while gently tucking the recliner’s footrest into position underneath. Then she listened—straining to hear any movement, any unusual stirring within the house, or outside. Nothing. A gentle light from the spring’s full moon filtered through the coverless windows. Once her eyes adjusted, she noticed the half-empty glass of burgundy sitting near where the remote had been. Without wondering what time of morning it was, or what plans she may have had for the new day, she finished the smooth, dark liquid. Lindsey stood and stretched, arching her back until several pops sent a momentary relief to her stiffened spine. Moving away from the chair, her thighs and calves and ankles throbbed with each step. She managed to find her way to the kitchen, vaguely aware of the crystal stem she still held between her fingers, its bowl cradled against her palm. After pressing the switch next to the door, her now widened eyes followed the shaft of light from ceiling to floor. The fragile glass crushed against her clenched fingers as she realized it wasn’t a dream. It was real.

Part 1

ONE
“She’s doing it again,” Laurel called from the back seat. “Stop picking at it,” Maggie cried as she gently pushed her daughter’s hand away from the scab. “You’re only going to make it worse.” A heavy sigh escaped as she turned back around, readjusting the seatbelt across her shoulder. Lindsey ignored the umpteenth warning and continued to fiddle with the crusty glob of skin covering her left elbow. Laurel grumbled, “That’s disgusting.” “Who’s ready for some ice cream?” Wayne said, sensing his wife’s growing frustration and knowing his youngest daughter’s lack of obedience. “I am,” Lindsey responded first, and with the most enthusiasm. “This will be good. I do need to get out of the car for a little while,” Maggie mumbled. “Laurel, how about you? Would you like something?” “Root beer float,” she answered decisively. Anticipating the taste of chocolate caused Lindsey to forget her itchy, healing elbow. She turned her attention instead to the darkening landscape and lighted billboards that flashed outside the car’s window. “Are we there yet?” Lindsey had asked several times. In the mind of an eight-year old, it had been a long trip already, almost two hours away from home. Shortly before suggesting the ice cream treat, her father had chimed the latest answer: “Half way to Aunt Nellie and Uncle Dwight’s house.”

Finding Closure
Lindsey loved Aunt Nellie and Uncle Dwight dearly and always looked forward to visits with them. They didn’t have children of their own and had always treated she and Laurel as grandchildren – spoiling them with anything they wanted, within respectable reason. Since both sets of natural grandparents had died early in life, Nellie and Dwight had become the surrogates the family needed. Although they were also her Daddy’s aunt and uncle, to Lindsey they didn’t seem that old. Both were active with community service activities and volunteered at a local nursing home. Nellie loved baking goodies and Dwight always had a wood working project going in his shop. This trip marked a special occasion, however. “They’ve been married fifty years?” Lindsey had exclaimed when her mother told the reason they were going to Austin the next Friday. “Yes. Isn’t it wonderful?” Maggie had answered rhetorically as she continued wrapping the gift with the ornately decorated gold and white paper. “I’m going to make them a special card,” Lindsey said, disappearing quickly from the dining room before totally completing the statement. Wayne slowed the Volvo as he took the exit off the Interstate. He drove a short distance along the service road before announcing, “Here we are,” as they pulled into the Dairy Queen’s parking lot. Laurel turned off the book light and gingerly placed the novel in the middle seat area. Before she left the car, she turned back and patted the book tenderly. “I’ll be right back,” she said softly. Lindsey overheard her sister and grumbled, “Why are you talking to a book?” “Because it’s my friend,” Laurel answered with conviction. Thoughts swirled through Lindsey’s mind. She knew her sister had many friends at school and in the neighborhood. Why would she call a book a friend? She had no time to respond. Neither could she think of anything to say, as everyone else was already heading toward the building’s glass doors. Throughout the ice cream break, savoring the chocolate flavored delicacy, Lindsey pondered Laurel’s statement. A book is a friend? She considered asking Laurel some questions, but decided to wait until they were back on the road. “That was so good. Thank you, Daddy,” Lindsey exclaimed as the family walked back to the car.

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Lanetta Sprott
“You’re welcome, Sugar.” He quickly kissed the top of her head and then opened both the front and back passenger’s car doors. After jaunting around to the other side, he managed to beat the trailing Laurel. “My Lady,” he said gallantly, bowing teasingly as he opened her door. Once she was inside, he slammed it shut and then quickly opened his own and jumped into the driver’s seat. “Everyone buckled in?” Maggie called out as Wayne started the engine. “Yes ma’am,” Lindsey and Laurel chimed together. “Oops,” Wayne remarked. He had already backed out of the parking space and had begun moving forward onto the service road when the car’s warning signal went off. “Someone’s seatbelt is not buckled correctly,” he explained calmly. “It’s Lindsey’s,” Laurel quipped. “She’s buckled into the middle seat.” “I can fix it,” Lindsey huffed. The service recorded every call: “This is the Operator. How may I help you?” “We need an ambulance. There’s been a terrible accident on the south bound service road of Interstate thirty-five.” “Are you involved?” “No. I’m the manager of the Dairy Queen.” The woman’s voice began trembling. “The family – Mother, Father, and two young girls – just left here. I was outside taking a smoke break,” she swallowed hard. “And, I saw everything.” “Was this a single vehicle accident?” “No. An eighteen-wheeler crashed into them. The driver’s out of the cab and walking around, shaking his head. He looks okay.” The caller’s voice faded to a whisper. “I don’t think anyone in the car could survive this.” “EMS is on the way. ETA two…” “Oh my,” the caller cried, interrupting the operator. She gasped, then caught her breath. “Talk to me. What’s wrong?” The manager exhaled, letting her words escape slowly. “The trucker driver is bending down over something in the bar ditch between the service road and the Interstate.” She stretched, standing on her tiptoes. “Oh my,” her voice broke. As she continued, her words

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Finding Closure
grew in intensity. “It looks like someone may have been thrown from the car. Tell them to please hurry.” “They’ll be there any second.” “Yes. I hear the sirens,” she screamed into the phone. “I see the lights. They’re here.” The manager hung up the payphone attached to the outside wall and then ran across the service road. She waved her arms high overhead, signaling for the emergency medical team to follow her direction, to where they may find a survivor. The next morning, the edition of the local newspaper reported: October 13th: Three dead, one seriously injured, after 18-wheeler smashes into vehicle on service road of I35. The accident occurred shortly before 8:00 p.m. Police report the uninjured truck driver failed to adhere to posted speed limit. He faces at least three counts of vehicular homicide. Additional charges are pending. Repetitious beeping noises mixed with distant voices filled Lindsey’s waking moments. A piercing throb in her head accented each pulse of her heart. She tried opening her eyes, but found the lids too heavy. She could only squeeze them shut harder, causing a crease to form between her eyebrows. Her lips parted slightly, she wanted to lick them, but her tongue wouldn’t cooperate. Then, after a few conscious attempts to move either arm, she succumbed to the sleep beckoning her. “Did you see that?” Nellie asked, stopping in mid stroke of combing her fingers through Lindsey’s long dark hair. “What?” Dwight stood, tossing the partially read newspaper on to the floor. Within two steps, he joined his wife and looked into the small, sleeping face. “She’s waking up. I just know it.” “Nell,” Dwight said gently. “Now, remember what the doctor told us. She’s not sleeping. She’s in a coma.” “But, it’s been eleven days.” “He also told us she might not be the same. She may have to learn to talk and read again; maybe even learn to walk all over again.” “Whatever she needs, we can handle anything. I know God will help us through this trial and any tribulations in the future. She lived for a reason. It’s not for us to question or doubt our strength.” Dwight walked to the foot of the bed. His somber face tightened. He shook his head slowly while glancing around the room at all the tubes and lines connecting the little body to the foreboding machines.

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“It’s going to be a rough road ahead. Especially, emotionally.” Nellie combed her fingers through Lindsey’s long dark hair and then pressed her palm against the bandaged forehead. “Poor child. At least she has us.” “Yes. And, with time and therapy, she’ll recover. I’m sure of it.” A slight gurgling noise escaped from Lindsey’s throat. “Doctor, Nurse, Somebody. She’s waking up,” Nellie called out from the dedicated ICU room. A nurse casually strolled in, humming softly underneath her breath. She diligently checked the monitor screens that indicated the patient’s different body pressures and activities. After opening the chart and scribbling a few notes, she then explained the procedure again to the elderly couple. “Dr. Curtis had induced the coma to give her body time to recover from her head injuries. We stopped the chemicals last night. Now she’s sleeping. Give her some time. The doctor will be in shortly to answer any further questions.”

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