Lights Out

Story by Jake Schlanger ’21

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By Jake Schlanger

I’m going to the doctor today because of the accident. Even though it happened over a year ago, it’s still fresh in my mind.

I can still hear my friends and myself joking around at the park, the sound of the black sedan pulling up at what looked like 50 mph. We watched in fascination as the sedan shot forward at what seemed like an ever increasing speed. I was frozen in place, just like my friends, but I’ve been in and out of the operating room ever since, and they haven’t. the difference between us is that the two of them realized where it was headed moments before I did. That’s why I’m deformed and blind, and they’re not. I didn’t know this until much later though, after I came to in a sterile hospital room.

The nurses and doctors that treated me told me that the sedan ran straight into the park pavilion. The structure’s rock columns shattered and some of the fragments made contact with my body. Bystanders say that they saw a large chunk of cinder block hit my head. A fragment of rock also hit a gas line, which burst. By the time the ambulance arrived my legs were burned to the bone and my face and chest were almost indistinguishable from charcoal. I was in the hospital for nearly three months and I still go in for operations on my chest and face. I have no idea what today is about, the doctor’s visits just blur together. Today I think I’m going to the shrink.

He asks too many questions about the accident. My parents think that I should get used to talking about it but I just can’t. They think it will help but all it does is make my nightmares that much more vivid. I also don’t like to the therapist because I can’t see where he is, and I don’t really feel safe around anyone but my family for this very reason.

After a few pleasantries the shrink started asking about my pain. I think that’s when I began to zone out. It isn’t that hard for my mind to drift to different things. That’s what happens when the world is black I guess.

My therapist wants me to try to listen to what people are saying and try to imagine what they’re talking about. I don’t even try to do this, I just imagine the future. I imagine the future as a place where God can just give me a new pair of eyes and lungs. I don’t know how I would have gotten through the months in the hospital if I didn’t.

I think about what I would see if I got my sight back. This got me thinking about what I saw when I had my sight. I imagined vacation with my family. It’s been a while since we went to the beach, or really anywhere. I saw my parents smiling and the rolling waves coming in.

And there it was. The ocean turned to the sedan, shooting towards me. My parents turned to my friends, their mouths frozen in fear. The column beside me shattering, the rock hitting my head, and although I never saw it, the giant explosion of gas. I feel the searing pain of me as I turn into a mushroom cloud. I hear the screams and cries of people, innocent one moment, scarred the next. I scream in agony as I feel the heat ripping at my flesh. But then God flipped a switch, and the pain evaporates. The flames are still there though, enveloping my blackened flesh. I keep screaming, begging the image to go away, never to come back. It’s all so real, the pain, the scene, so vivid and fresh in my mind.

Then all goes silent.