It all happened very fast, the witnesses said. Unfortunately, none of the witnesses actually saw what happened. The two women with the strollers were window shopping and didn’t turn around until they heard the couple on the corner scream. The couple on the corner was crossing the street when they saw something fall behind them, they turned around but by then, it had already happened. The culprit was in shock and hadn’t been looking – obviously – although to his credit, he had the decency to stick around and see this whole thing through. The only person who saw it all unfold was a three-year old girl now standing on the sidewalk crying and she didn’t really count as a witness since she could hardly be expected to understand what happened in a rational way.

The corner-couple rushed to the girl and the woman quickly took her into her arms. She had children of her own, grandchildren too, and she knew the loss that the girl had just experienced was an unbearable burden to shoulder alone. “Call an ambulance,” she yelled to her husband. By then, the window-shoppers had already phoned the police.

The police were on the scene within minutes but it was too late, it had been too late before the witnesses had even turned around. The police took in the scene: a plush teddy bear lay off to the side precariously leaning up against the wheel of a car, as if it had sat down to let its heart slow down from the whole ordeal. Officer J- picked it up and handed it to the girl who huddled in the grandmother’s lap sucking her thumb. “Is this yours?” he asked. She nodded and took her thumb out of her mouth to reach for the bear. Once in her arms, she held the bear to her chest and rested her head onto the grandmother’s shoulder, watching the scene behind a wall of heavy tears.

A woman lay sprawled across the street, her long auburn hair covered her face (a good thing too for that allowed her daughter to forever preserve in her mind the beauty that her mother once was). A puddle of blood had begun to form under her hair. Officer J- moved in front of the girl so as to block her view. The woman’s arms and legs lay at odd angles from her body, her purse about five feet away. Coins had spilled onto the street and rolled under cars, a shower of copper and nickel. Her wallet lay open under a car, a packet of tissues rested next to her phone and scattered all around the street were barrettes, dozens of pink barrettes. Officer J- turned to look at the little girl, two pink barrettes held the hair back from her tear-stained face.

He walked over to the boy sitting in shock a ways apart from the scene. “Son, is this your car?” “Yes, sir,” the boy said. He was a good boy, you could tell. “Can you tell me what happened?” The boy started to cry, that messy, slobbery, hopeless cry of a boy who is trying so hard to be an adult. “I… I didn’t see her. I didn’t know I hit her until I… ran over her.” He pointed at his car, shaking. “How is it that you didn’t see her?” “I,” he hesitated, “I was texting and when I looked up I saw a flash and then felt a bump and…” his tears took over his words.

Office J- was a good man and he put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. He looked back at the mother laying on the ground and her daughter in a stranger’s lap. “What happened?” he said, mostly to himself because he knew by then that nobody could tell him.

Mia, honey, we have to go… we’re going to be late. Yes, of course, you can bring your bear. He’ll be able to keep you company (wink) but please hurry up. Oh, here, let me fix your hair. This is your first day of preschool and we want you looking very fancy, right? (pink barrettes) There we go! What a lovely girl (smile). Oh sweetie… (sigh) come here so I can whisper something in your ear: <I love you so much! You are my princess, my treasure, my everything, you know? I will miss you very much today> Ok, let’s go! (hold hands). Remember to stay out of the street, cars come by very fast here. Ok, let’s get you strapped in. Oh! (gasp) Mia, no! Leave the bear, there’s a car coming. Mia… Mia!!! Mia. <I am not afraid to die but I cannot live without you> (shove) (hit) (gasp) Mia. 

All content is copyrighted by Karla Valenti. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is expressly forbidden.

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