It was just a normal day at school for Darla, at least at first...
|The streets were mostly empty as I walked across them. Well, okay, more like skipped across them. You see, my school was 30 minutes from where I live. And if I got there early, my teacher, Mr. Thompson, promised his class they would get to see his older geologist brother, Gary. It might not sound as exciting to some people, but I was ecstatic about it.
“He is after all…” I said as I crossed the road by my house. “A world famous geologist.” I made sure to spin around the tree that was planted by the street corner. Some say it brings you good luck. My mom says it’s just a myth though. I don’t know. I’m only 11. As I walked along the concrete sidewalk, I couldn’t help but wonder what Mr. Thompson’s brother would look like. Then I thought about what my best friend Shelley said to me yesterday when we walked to my house.
“I’ll bet he’ll look like Ryan Gosling.”
“That’s what you said the new kid Jeremy would look like,” I said. “You can’t just assume everyone looks like Ryan Gosling.” Shelley immediately looks hurt.
“I don’t assume that all the time.”
“Oh yeah?” I spat out, putting my hands on my hips. “Which celebrity do you think I look like?” My best friend thought for a moment before mumbling,
“Um… Emma Stone?” I rolled my eyes and started laughing.
“Oh, come on! I don’t even have red hair!” Shelley smirked as we kept walking.
“Are you sure? You look like you have a good figure.”
“Really?” I pointed to a squiggly lawn sculpture on the grass. “My curves are dull compared to that thing.” Shelley rolled her eyes, and we laughed until our stomachs were about to pop. I smiled as I thought of Shelley. She’s watched ‘La la land’ I don’t know how many times. I stopped counting after the 50th time I heard ‘City of stars’ playing on the TV at our last sleepover. I sighed as I recalled screaming at her to turn it off. But I realized I only had 25 minutes left to get to school. So I quickly started speed walking down the huge row of houses. I knew my legs would get tired at the sudden change of pace, but I wasn’t taking any chances. When I reached the intersection on Adam’s street, the cars were going a little slower than usual. Even though it was a Monday. But that didn’t stop me from booking across. Besides, I thought I just saw a blue Chevy speeding in the distance.
‘Oh well.’ I thought. ‘Probably just a mirage.’ When I finally got across, I pulled out my phone to check the time. 7:07. I then looked at the school, and sighed with relief. Because it was only a few hundred feet in the distance. I still had time. Slowing my pace, I walked away from the intersection with pride. ‘That was actually kinda fun,’ I thought to myself as I passed by the woods. ‘Now I know today’s gonna be great. Besides it’s not like anything’s gonna-’
“Crash!” I stopped dead. The sound was so loud, you could probably hear it from Denver. I’m frozen for a few seconds before I shook my head. “What was that?” I ask a woman as I take a few steps backward. She doesn’t answer but runs off instead with tears streaming down her cheeks. And then, I slowly turned around. My mouth opened wide. The scene was so catastrophic, the only words that came out of my mouth were, “Oh my god.”
The blue Chevy’s hood was crushed under the weight of a red Toyota. It has more cracks in it than a broken egg. The engine had caught fire, and flames were quickly rising from it.
Tire marks scarred the ride as other cars stopped in front of the wreckage. Some people who were on the sidewalk stopped to watch. One man looked like he was gonna throw up. As for me, I couldn’t look away. It was painful, sure, but it was kind of captivating. Like a rare ruby necklace. Then I realized something… the person trapped in the car needed my help. He or she was probably screaming for help to get them out of there. As I was thinking, a drop of blood flowed down the window. I had to do something, but what? Then, I looked at the phone still in my hand. All of a sudden, as if god himself had whispered in my ear, I knew what I had to do. I pressed the phone icon on the screen, and dialed the numbers ‘9-1-1’
“911, what’s your emergency?”
“H-hi,” I stammered as I held the phone up to my ear. “There’s been an accident, o-on Adam’s street.”
“What happened?” the operator asked.
“Well… I was walking down the intersection, and when I got to the other side, a red Toyota slammed into a blue Chevy. There’s fire all over the engine. And… I think I saw a hand on the Chevy window.” The operator is silent for a second before talking again.
“Okay, and what’s your name?”
“Darla Baker.” Another pause.
“Alright, we’ll send an ambulance right away.”
“O- okay,” I stuttered, and then hung up. I looked at the time. 7:20. I only had 15 minutes to get to school.
‘But what about the person in the car?’ A voice in my head yelled as I put my phone back in my pocket.
‘I called 911. That was all I could do.’ I started walking toward the school. And although I still felt a little sadness, I felt I’d done enough. I then started to wonder who I should tell about it. ‘Maybe when I get to school, I’ll tell Shelley. No wait, maybe I’ll-’
“Darla!” I walked over to the car to see who the person was. “Darla! Darla!” I hesitantly looked at the car door.
‘Should I open it?’ I thought. ‘I don’t even know the guy.’
“D-darla.” The guy’s yelling had now gone to a stuttering mumble. “Darla.” I shrugged and then put my hand on the car door handle, and slowly opened it. I gasped and stepped backward when I saw a man reach his hand toward me. Blood soaked his shirt and the inflated airbag covered most of his face. Out of instinct, my feet started walking toward him. And when I got to him, the guy grabbed me by the hand. “You’re Darla?” he whispers. I shudder at his touch, but don’t pull away.
“Darla Baker.” All of a sudden, he smiles.
“My wife’s name is Darla. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you’re one of my brother’s students.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Are you… Gary Thompson?” He nodded and tightened his grip on my hand to keep me from falling over. Then he reached into his front pocket of his jeans, grunting from the pain.
“Here. Take this to Chad for me,” he wheezed, holding out to me . “I was gonna do it myself. But as you can see, I’m too disabled to do so.” I wanted to laugh, but instead I just stared into his eyes. Each iris was a dark ocean blue. But they twinkled in a way I couldn’t describe. Like when you encounter a pile of coal, and after a few minutes of digging, you find a diamond. Those were eyes. Shelley would definitely approve. Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted by the loud blaring of ambulance sirens. Gary must’ve noticed too, because he let me go. “Go ahead and get to class,” he said faintly “Don’t worry about me.” I nodded as tears started to well up.
“Okay, G-gary. I will.” He smiled again.
“ Thank you. My wife would be proud of you.” As soon as he said that last word, I turned around and ran as fast as that Usain Bolt guy in the 2012 Olympics. I had only ten minutes left to get to Mr. Thompson’s class after all. But all the while, I was also wondering what it was that Gary had given me at that intersection.
‘Oh well, I’ll figure it out when I get to my desk.’ I thought. After what seemed like hours, I finally got to school. I checked my phone for the third time. 7:29. I sighed with relief. I only had about six minutes. Wheezing, I slowly trudged to Mr. Thompson’s 6th grade class. While I was at his, I looked at the thing Gary gave me. It was a picture. And judging from the ink quality, it was probably taken from a digital camera. A man was standing next to a huge rock. His hands were straight up in the air. He looked like he was screaming, probably in happiness. His eyes though… I thought they couldn’t shine any brighter. When I saw them in that blue Chevy, they were diamonds. But in the photo, now two supernovas were taking over. I’ve never seen someone so happy. I turned the photo around, and found a message in the back.
“Chad, Thanks to you, I’m able to visit my dream come true! You’re the best! Happy Birthday! :) You’re brother, Gary.”
I stared at those words, in complete silence.
“Wow,” I whispered. I couldn’t believe it. The victim of the car crash that happened moments ago just so happened to be my teacher’s brother. He could be dead by now, since the wounds were so fatal. I tried not to think about it. A minute later, I finally reached Mr. Thompson’s door. I dragged my feet to my desk, the photo still in my hand. I’ll give it to him later. I’m not sure he’s ready yet.
“A terrible tragedy has occurred today when world famous geologist Gary T. Thompson died this morning in a car crash.” I still remember hearing those words on Good Morning America that day. Everyone was sad, but when I saw Mr. Thompson’s face, I could tell he was about to break down. And to be honest, I was too.
‘I didn’t save his life,’ I thought, as tears formed in my eyes again. And this time, I let them flow.
As for the picture, I gave it to Mr. Thompson after school.
“I tried to help him,” I sobbed, holding it out to him. “I called 911 and everything.” Mr. Thompson looked like he was about to flood the classroom in despair, but he just nodded.
“No no, it’s fine You did the right thing, Darla.” I handed him the photo and tears started streaming down my cheeks again.
“He seemed to really love you.”
“I know.” Then he hugged me as tight as he could. I hugged him back, sobbing into his checkered shirt. I’ve always liked Mr. Thompson, but this time, I felt like we're connected. Like he’s known me all my life. Gary seemed to affect both of us. But he was Mr. Thompson’s brother. And me, I’m just the stranger who almost saved his life. The Darla who wasn’t his wife.