Chapter 1

On a warm weekday like any other in the summer, Neil found himself with little to do. Having recently been asked, rather, informed to take a leave of absence from work, he took to the open road, speeding along with his wife, Rebecca. Though Neil concentrated on the road, he allowed himself to fade away from his troubles and enjoy this unexpected vacation – this newfound time to rediscover his relationship with Rebecca.

Driving his red convertible, Neil glanced cautiously at the backseat of the car, and back over to Rebecca’s small baby bump. She was newly pregnant, but he knew that he would soon be trading one baby for another – this trip was probably one of the last he would take in his dream car, his last piece of bachelor life slipping away, reduced to something as horrifying as a minivan. He shuddered at the thought of a minivan, but he knew he wasn’t being honest to himself. Is it really about the car or about the life changes that come with parenthood? Neil focused on the car again – that same car he wanted since he first saw it as a teenager. It was the result of every penny he earned and saved for nearly a decade. He knew it would be hard to give up. But as he glanced over his shoulder one more time, he was all too aware that there was no room for a car seat or any of the other things a baby would need.

To distance himself from these thoughts of maturity, Neil went out of his way to focus on the details of the day. He settled into the drive and started appreciating his surroundings. Sure, it seemed like any other day, but there was something about the sun and the freedom of the convertible that set it apart. The dry roads were almost empty and the crisp wind nipped at his hair. He focused on the details of the car – first the black steering wheel in his hands, then the assortment of knobs and switches, next the radio. He lingered on the radio for a second. The music had been playing for a while but until now it was just noise – background music in his head. Shutting down his brain, he focused on the music, but could not place the tune. He thought he had it – no, that wasn’t it. He knew it would bother him for a while – he never liked not knowing an answer to anything. How would he commit this moment to memory if it wasn’t complete?

Moving his thoughts away from the radio, he felt the warmth of the sun on his hands, and caught a quick glare off the reflections bouncing off the chrome trim. The same chrome trim that caught his teenage attention all those years ago. As he gripped the wheel, he got a whiff of the smell of the leather. These things had become common place over the years, but today they contributed to a memory, a feeling he knew he’d keep even once the car was sold.

Neil allowed himself a sidelong glance at Rebecca. She was radiant. He had never understood the term ‘pregnancy glow’ until this very moment. Her body language, her smile, her character was steeped in the optimism that motherhood brings. He couldn’t help but crack a smile when he looked at her. He took another second to admire her red hair shimmering in the light. Between the sun providing highlights and the wind tugging at her hair, he had newfound appreciation for the time she spent brushing her hair. She was smiling – Neil wasn’t sure if it was because she saw him smile, or whether she had been smiling this whole time.

In the corner of his eye, Neil noticed Rebecca reaching over, as he felt her hand settle gently on his leg. The touch brought him back to earth and back to the moment just in time to hear her finish a thought “… and that’s the plan. What do you think?”

Neil felt his cheeks warm up with embarrassment. Swallowing hard, he looked at Rebecca sheepishly. “Um, Dear, “ he took a deep breath and continued “I’ve completely missed what you were saying. I’ve been off in my own little world.” He looked down to hide the shame in his eyes and then quickly directed them back to the road before she could notice.

Neil felt Rebecca’s hand squeeze his leg gently and he felt reassured. She spoke. “You’ve been distracted by work. I understand, but they’ve asked you to take some time off. It’s time to stop thinking of them and start thinking of us.” She lifted her hand from Neil’s leg and reached up to his hand. He felt her pulling it cautiously towards her. He tightened his grip on the steering wheel with his left hand and let her carefully remove his right hand from the wheel to guide it to her stomach. When she placed his hand on her belly, a warm, comfortable feeling washed up over him. She continued her thought. “Thinking of ALL of us.”

Neil nodded. He knew he had allowed this drive to be a distraction – both from the good and bad things in his life. He looked over at Rebecca. “There’s so much to worry about,” he offered. He was so uncomfortable sharing his feelings and his body language betrayed him. “There’s so much going on – I try to leave it behind, but then I leave you behind too. I’m going to work on it.” Neil hoped this would be enough to satisfy Rebecca. Emotions made things so awkward for him. He always felt as if he was speaking the wrong language when it came to discussing feelings, but he knew that Rebecca loved him and knew about – maybe even accepted his shortcomings. He kept second-guessing himself. The silence turned to awkwardness. He didn’t know if she understood, or if it was enough. He had so much emotion to express, all caught up in his chest, but the words just weren’t there. He wasn’t even sure if he should just say something to break the tension.

Rebecca spoke first, easing his mind. Her hand was still holding his on her stomach and he felt her squeeze and caress his hand in a way that gave him some much-needed reassurance. In that moment, he knew she understood that it was not in his nature to be emotionally open and that this feeble attempt to convey his feelings was a major step for both of them. He resolved to build on this small victory during their next discussion. Rebecca cracked a joke about the music and leaned in to change the stations. Neil felt her hand lift from his and he watched her reach for the radio. As she touched the dial, he felt the car drag. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but the handling of the car seemed way off. Suddenly, a piercing metallic grinding noise came from one of the tires. Neil pulled his hand back from Rebecca’s stomach, and gripped the steering wheel as he felt his heart pound. He gripped the wheel so hard he noticed his knuckles turning bright white. He could feel the color drain from his face. He thought of Rebecca. Was she wearing her seatbelt? He couldn’t look, he had to focus on the car. He shouted at her to hold on.

Neil stomped on the brakes with such force his foot hurt. It only served to make the car handle even more erratically. His heart leaped out of his chest as the front tire shot free and darted across the highway to the opposite ditch. As fond as Neil was with his old car, he knew it was so old that safety and security was not a standard feature. Losing control at highway speeds would not be a smooth ride. He thought about the safety of his wife and unborn child. Desperately, he slammed the brakes again, hoping that he could contain the car’s erratic flailing as it slowed down safely. Just then the bare axle of the car caught the asphalt, turned awkwardly and started to flip over.

Neil could taste dirt in his mouth. Dirt and something metallic. He was in pain from head to toe. He opened his eyes. Even they hurt. Focusing made his head hurt too. All he could see were blobs. Breathing was difficult, he realized – but he couldn’t be sure if it was because he was laying on his stomach. As his head cleared he realized the dark blob closest to him was the asphalt. He was in the ditch. Feeling his heart beating in his head, Neil tried to piece the last few minutes together. Did he pass out? If so, how long? He tried to lift his head, but it was so heavy. His arms were so heavy. He wiggled his fingers, clutching at the ground. He still had feeling in his hands. He still had strength in his hands. Heavy as they were, Neil moved his arms so he could bring his hands to his face – so he could see them. It was so painful to move that Neil couldn’t decide on whether he wanted to scream or throw up from the pain. As his hands came into his field of vision, he could focus on them, which helped his eyes adjust. All his fingers were intact. His arms seemed fine as well. As his eyes focused, the pain started to focus as well. His leg felt like it was on fire.

His thoughts drifted back to Rebecca and he recalled the car losing control. Trying to get a look around and see her became his only priority. He forced his hands under his torso, lifting his body like a half pushup. The pain stung, tears collected in his eyes, which caused everything to blur again. He made out the asphalt and a red blur. He figured it was his car, but he had to look for Rebecca. He gritted his teeth, pictured her once more and blinked until the tears cleared away. The red blur was indeed his car, settled no more than 50 feet away, upside-down on the highway. Something caught his eye. He saw a red streak pinned under the passenger side door. Deep down, he knew that was her hair. He knew that she was probably pinned under the weight of the car, and he knew she was most likely dead, but then denial set in. He couldn’t remember if she was wearing a red blouse, but she must have been. He convinced himself it was just an article of clothing and that she was perfectly fine inside the overturned car. She’s probably just waiting for him. Neil knew he just needed to get over there to her and talk her through it. He attempted to bend his leg and get it under himself, but the pain was so sharp that he saw stars – it seemed as if he would pass out.

Fear and doubt set in. Neil knew that every second would count. He took a deep breath and tried to turn himself over. He felt faint again. Knowing that he had only one chance, he got his arms positioned, he psyched himself up for the task and then he quickly flipped himself over. It was agony. Neil screamed uncontrollably and started to shake. Sweat poured down his head as he propped himself up. Though he couldn’t remember whether or not Rebecca had red clothing on, he knew he was not, which was troubling. His pants were soaked red with blood.

There was some kind of large, filthy stick poking out of Neil’s upper leg. He reasoned to himself that it was probably what was causing all the pain. He ripped a strip of his shirt and prepared a bandage. With one hand, he reached down towards the stick, and with the other, he had his makeshift bandage prepared. He decided he would pull the stick out, jam the bandage in and go save his wife. He gave the stick a sharp tug, and as he heard a wet popping noise, he encountered a pain so excruciating, his body went into convulsions. As he fell back to the ground he caught a glimpse of the stick in his leg. Now that he had pulled on it and removed some of the dirt, he realized that was a bone. It was part of his leg, protruding through the skin and his blood-soaked jeans. It suddenly became really important to Neil to recall the name of this bone. Light-headed, his focus drifted from name to name. “Was it the tibia? Fibia? Labia?”, He thought to himself, “No, that’s definitely not right.” He chuckled at how Rebecca would react when he told her about this later. Thoughts of Rebecca brought him back from the brink of his pain-induced insanity. He looked down again and took stock. Regardless of the name of the bone he was looking at, he knew he was in severe trouble. He started repeating Rebecca’s name out loud, over and over again so he would continue to focus on her and keep a handle on reality. He attempted to drag himself towards the car, but the severe pain and weakness prevented any progress, even when he attempted to hold his breath and drag himself. Neil despaired. He couldn’t make sense of things in his own head. “Am I dying from the blood loss? Is this what death feels like?” thought Neil. Just then, Neil actually took solace in the fact that the pain was getting worse. He figured that as long as he was in pain, his body was more or less doing was it was supposed to be doing to keep him alive. He knew he didn’t have much time left still. Desperate, Neil figured that the extreme pain was due to his change in position. It hurt, but he didn’t feel as bad when he was on his stomach. He contemplated options. “Maybe less strain will stop the bleeding?” Willing to try anything, he laid back down, bit down on the strip of cloth he had been holding and flipped back over to his stomach.

As he rolled onto his stomach, he heard the noise of an approaching vehicle. It sounded like a large vehicle. It sounded like salvation. “They’ll see the wreck, they’ll get out and I’ll scream to them,” Neil thought. He rested, hoping to gather the strength to prop himself up again. Every second felt like a year. Where was that vehicle? Neil looked up and was glad to see he was right. This was a big vehicle. A loaded semi heading toward the accident. But, it was going awfully fast. Neil didn’t like how fast it was moving. It was approaching the wreck way too quickly. Neil could swear the driver hadn’t noticed the wreckage yet – it didn’t seem as if he was slowing down. Propping himself up with one arm, Neil started waving the other frantically. As the driver approached, Neil noticed he was fiddling with something – maybe a cell phone or a GPS – either way, it was clear the driver was not focused on the road and was completely unaware of the crash. Neil started to feel nauseous. Just then, the driver glanced up, noticing Neil’s still-flailing arm. The chrome reflected light into the driver’s eyes, pulling his attention back to the road. He reacted with such frantic actions that Neil was sure the driver was in the grips of panic. The driver immediately swerved and put on the brakes, forcing the semi to bounce and lurch. Neil and the driver both knew it was too late. Neil closed his eyes. He couldn’t bear to watch. He heard the truck horn in tandem with the noise of grinding pavement and twisting metal. Helpless, with his eyes still closed, Neil started to shout Rebecca’s name, hoping to drown out the carnage. He no longer felt any pain in his body.

Next chapter ->



Norm & Sher said...

Yep! You've got me Kuz! Hook, Line, and Sinker!

Richard Belzile said...

This is my first stab at writing a book. I originally hosted the entire page elsewhere, but I've decided to move and consolidate this into a single site apart from my personal blog and contrived rantings. I'm going to add a comment to all of the new chapters I make on this separate blog to add additional information about the writing process, as needed.

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I am Sinewave: Spark

Written by Richard Belzile

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I am not a professional author, this is my novice attempt at creating a novel in an episodic fashion. Comments, critiques and compliments accepted.

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