A/N: I wrote this one ages ago and only just found it now on my Google Docs. I may continue it, I may not. As it is, this is not a happy story.
"Turn this one up!"
Edward laughed and reached over to turn up the dial on the car stereo. His pale hand came into my field of vision as he fiddled with the knob, sending the music blasting out of the speakers and vibrating through my body. I laughed with him and began to sing along.
"On the floors of Tokyo-oh, down to London town a go-go, with the record selection and the mirror's reflection I'm a dancing with myself"*
"God, don't ever give up your day job, Bella," he snorted from the passenger seat as his hand crept over the drive shaft and caressed my jean clad thigh.
"Hey! Paws off, buddy!" I smacked his hand. "If you're going to insult the sultry sounds of my voice you're not allowed to cop a feel!"
"Uh huh," I didn't have to look at him to hear the humour in his voice. "You gonna stop me?" He gave me a gentle squeeze.
"If I had the chance I'd ask the world to dance, oh, oh, oh..."
I turned my attention from the wheel for a brief second and glanced at him.
His hair, often a force to be reckoned with, was in a complete and utter disarray thanks to the highway wind blowing it around. I imagined that my own hair looked a fright—it had long ago escaped the tie to dance wildly in the wind. We had decided that since my old Civic wasn't a fancy-schmancy convertible we would have to make do with rolling all the windows down. It seemed to work well enough and the warm air rushed through the cab of the car, bringing the scents of summer; hot pavement, the hint of flowers and a warmth that filled the soul.
I continued to sing and Edward continued to laugh. It was a sound that I never got tired of and I felt a spark of excitement and love fill my chest. His laugh, his smile, his very presence always had a funny effect on me; it changed me a little, deep down inside where you couldn't really see, and had been doing so since the very first time we met in a stuffy high school lab room.
I looked back at the road, stretched out endlessly in front of the car. It had taken us weeks to wear our parents down for this trip and now that we were finally on it I felt giddy with happiness. We were driving down to Florida, a road trip for the two of us, to spend a month with my mother before we went off to university in Alaska. This was our last "drop everything and do it" before we headed off to University. Of course, college was supposed to be one big party but neither of us expected to be part of that. I was dead serious about my studies; I wanted to become a psychiatrist and I knew that I would have to dedicate everything to that goal. Edward was of a similar mind, though he wasn't sure if he wanted to follow the family business or strike out on his own. He had always been a high achiever and nothing but the best would satisfy him. No, I couldn't see many kegger parties in our future.
But we had this—and that was honestly good enough for me for now. The lines of the highway were leading us forward, the white dashes flying by so fast that they melded into one, and I felt for the first time that I was finally doing something for myself instead of for others. I couldn't wait to get out there on my own, to be Bella and not Rene's caretaker, or Charlie's long lost kid. I wanted to sleep late on weekends and eat Kraft Dinner until I was sick of it. I wanted to want and to be able to fulfil those wants for the first time since I learned how to feed myself. I really couldn't wait.
I shifted in my seat, trying to bring some feeling back to my butt—I had been driving for the last several hours. We had agreed that we didn't want to stop for hotels on the way, instead, we switched when the driver would get tired so that a nap could be had. I wasn't tired yet but my body was definitely stiff from having been seated for so long, our last pit stop had been almost 8 hours before.
The song faded into another that I liked and I sang along. This time I was joined by my laughing companion, his deep voice adding another layer to our botched rendition. I smiled as we sang and drove, this was the way it had been since we left and part of me almost didn't want to arrive in Florida. We were still singing in sync when the road morphed into a sharp turn. It surprised me since there had been no highway sign to warn of it and the momentum of the vehicle pressed our bodies to the left.
"Whoa there, speed racer!" Edward chuckled.
"Sorry, I didn't know that was coming," I let off the gas a little as I turned.
I was used to driving an ancient pickup truck, the vehicle I had been gifted with when I moved in with my father Charlie. It couldn't handle high speeds very well, the engine practically cried, and it certainly couldn't handle them on a curve. I had always been worried that one day a tire would just pop off or the top heavy truck would roll over. As it turned out, neither of those things ever happened; just before I graduated high school it gave up on life in the driveway of my father's home. That was how I came to own the old Civic. It was the first car that I had bought with my own money and it was kind of my baby. The local idiot, Mike Newton, had previously owned it but his parents had taken it away from him and sold it when he was caught drinking and driving. Mike was not the first owner, and he hadn't taken very good care of it aesthetics wise, but the engine was given a Jacob Black seal of approval so I handed over the cash required.
We pulled up alongside another car that had been pacing with us for about an hour as the turn ended and I made a quick decision. There was another curve up ahead of us and the other driver had barely been able to keep to their lane during the last one—in fact, they had been swerving quite a bit and that made me nervous. I pressed on the gas and prepared to pass.
"What are you doing?" Edward asked, noticing the increased speed.
"Getting away from this asshole," I jerked my head to the right without taking my eyes off the road, "because he can't seem to keep to his own—"
I broke off with a gasp, my eyes glued to the oncoming traffic to my left. My heart jumped with a sickening lurch as my hands gripped the wheel harder.
"What's—" Edward's voice broke off in a choking sound.
The world seemed to slow to a crawl as my entire being focused in on the sight before me. Sounds dimmed to the background, barely even registering in my brain, as my stomach clenched painfully. An oncoming 18 wheeler truck, the kind that made interstate deliveries, swerved out of the way of something that I couldn't see. It was driving in the fast lane, the one lane it should never be in, and the momentum of the truck's sudden movement sent the trailer attached rocking from side to side as if it would topple over at any moment. I saw a flash of sun glinting off of glass and suddenly the truck's nose was pointed towards the meagre concrete divider that separated the two directions of traffic.
Heading straight for us.
"BELLA!" I heard Edward scream as if we were under water.
The truck hit the concrete, sending chunks flying in every direction. It reared up and I could see the underside of it—dark and dirty pipes, wires and metal. The tires were spinning wildly, as if grasping for something to hold on to as the world lost control. It soared into the air, its shadow falling over us like a sudden summer storm that blindsides you on the walk home, like a death sentence meted out from above. My heart seemed to stop as my brain clicked on for the barest of seconds and I slammed my foot on the gas, jamming the pedal into the floor of the car.
If only I can get past it.
I can get past it.
I have to get past it.
I will get past it.
The little car jumped and its engine whined in a high pitch as it tried to comply with my command. With everything still moving in slow motion and my eyes peeled to the truck, I felt my blood practically singing in my veins as the ton of metal and glass began to descend from its flight over the barrier, still heading straight for us. For the first time in my life, I prayed.
My prayers weren't made of conscious thought; they weren't even formulated into words.
It was base human need. It was emotion. It was my will to live.
Suddenly, as if God had pressed play on the remote control of my life, time returned to the world and everything happened at once.
With the engine of the Civic roaring in my ears, I barely heard tires squealing, Edward screaming my name and concrete crunching under the unstoppable force of momentum.
The side of the trailer was whipped into my view, blocking out the beautiful blue sky from my vision, and I read the words on the side of it:
"Transline Shipping: Getting the job done right."
And then the world went black.
Everything hurt. My back was on fire and my head throbbed. I drew in a ragged breath and cried out as the flames from my back spread to my chest. My breath punched out of me in a huff, feeding the flame. My face was pressed against something but I couldn't really see it, there was something warm and wet dripping into my eyes. I blinked and tried to clear it, trying to understand where I was and what was happening. Slowly, the world around me came into focus and instantly, I wished that it hadn't.
I was trapped.
The memories came rushing back in as my eyes took in the twisted metal that was wrapped tightly around me. The roof of the car was pressing against my face, the smashed in driver's door pinned my arm against the remains of the seat and my legs were trapped by something that I could not see. I screamed against the fabrc covered metal that brushed my lips and tasted blood in my mouth. I screamed again.
I began to cry, each and every sob ripping agony through my chest. I couldn't stop them even though I knew the pain would lessen if I could. I felt the moisture from my breath building on the soft material that covered the twisted metal of the roof. Panic began to set in as I realized how well and truly trapped I was. I felt like a caged animal, the need to free myself welled up in my chest until I was jerking and thrashing, ignoring the pain that ripped through my body. I continued to scream, in pain and fear, the noise ripping from me sounding not of a woman but of a terrified animal. I thrashed until I felt my left arm pull free with an agonizing wrench. The pain that followed was like nothing I had ever imagined; my stomach lurched and the world threatened to fall headlong into darkness. I sucked in great, deep, painful breaths of air and forced myself to stay conscious and to not throw up as my entire body continued to throb. I could feel my arm pulsate with every erratic heartbeat that sent blood coursing through my veins.
"Hello? Can anyone hear me?"
A voice. Not Edward's. Another man.
"Yes!" I gasped, "Please! Help me!"
I sobbed with relief as I heard someone climbing over what sounded like metal, their footsteps coming closer and closer. I used my fingers to fumble and feel my way up to where the window of my door once was, seeking some sort of opening to show the person where we were. My fingers grazed over sharp metal and glass but I kept going until I could feel my fingers poke through something. My arm ached from the small effort and I couldn't fit any more of my hand through; I had to hope that my fingers were visible from the outside of my twisted cage.
"Please! Oh god, please!" I cried, tears flowing hot down my face and into my ears.
"I'm here," a man's voice said. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard.
"Please help me," I begged again.
"The rescue crews are on their way," he told me. "Are you seriously injured?"
"I...I don't know, I can't move much," I said, "My boyfriend...he's not answering me, I don't know if he's okay."
"I'm going to hail one of the EMT's over, they've got the fire department with them, they'll get you out of here," he said and there was the sound of crunching glass as he moved.
"NO!" panic swarmed me again. "Please! Please don't leave me!"
There was a lengthily silence and I thought that he hadn't heard me, that he had left to get help. I closed my eyes and the hot tears spilled over again as I fought to stay calm, to not let the panic take over and drown me. I had to be strong, help was nearby. Hysteria would not save me, or Edward.
Edward. Was he alive?
A small whimper slipped past my lips and I clamped down on it fast, trying desperately to not start screaming again.
That's when I felt him. Cold fingers, ice cold in fact, wrapped around mine and squeezed gently.
"I won't leave you."
* "Dancing With Myself" by Billy Idol