Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here
Flying is wonderful, freeing. The wind holds me up by the arms and thighs. My back arches, and my eyes are closed. I don't want to open them.
I am flying like a cactus thrush. But I have forgotten my feathers.
I felt the impact shake my spirit from my bones. I rolled several times, unable to stop it. I felt my hair being pulled and something kept scratching at my face. I rolled to a stop and opened my eyes.
The sky was blue above me. It was the kind of blue that is so blue it is a mere shadow away from white. There were no clouds. Only the silhouette of a hawk in the distance.
I wanted to weep, to call out, to move, but I couldn't convince my body to work. My spirit had been knocked loose. It needed to get back in the driver's seat before the flesh would obey.
I writhed in the tall dry grass and stared at the sky, my spirit working back into the crevasses and valleys of my body. When it snapped back into place suddenly, I dragged in the first breath with a ragged groan that shredded through my vocal cords.
I gasped and struggled for another breath. And another. Each tore at my throat a little less. My hands grasped convulsively at the grassy stems and my legs twitched, trying to convince me that I was unharmed. I wasn't entirely certain of that, but survival instincts kicked in and I rolled over and crawled to my hands and knees. I paused a moment, fighting off the waves of nausea before looking around.
I saw the car to my left, with the hood like an accordian, pressed against the cement pylon. The pylon angled away from the car, trying to get away from the attack. Bits of crumbled cement fell from around where the bumper should have been.
Other cars had already stopped. Some people were creeping towards the car, checking it out. Others were on cell phones. Perhaps one or two had even called 911. I could hear the fear and excitement in their voices, but the words were lost in the throbbing of noise and my head.
One of the creepers spotted me as I tried to get to my feet. I failed and crawled forward a few steps before the middle-aged man reached my side.
"Ohmygosh, are you hurt?"
I ignored the question. I'd just been thrown from a car and he asked if I was hurt. I couldn't think of a single response that my mother wouldn't slap my mouth for. "David."
The guy smiled. "No, I'm Joe," he said, helping me get to my feet.
I scanned the grass. It took a minute for what he'd said to make sense. "Where's David? He was driving."
The guy turned pale. "Oh, gosh. There was no one in the car." He held my arm, letting me use his grip to steady my steps. He waved with his other hand. "Hey, Elliot!"
Another middle-aged guy looked at him. When he saw me, he started towards us.
Joe cupped his free hand to his mouth. "There's another person! Start looking!"
I winced as he yelled.
Elliot started calling to the other gawkers, creepers and phone talkers. At least no one had started taking videos.
I stumbled my way to the car with Joe's help. But, before I could think what to do next, one of the searchers started hollering and waving, "Over here! I found him!"
I lurched that direction, dragging Joe, who still had ahold of my arm. I tried to shake him off, but I nearly fell over, so I let him hold me steady. We stumbled through the grass.
David suddenly appeared amoung the tall plants. I dropped to my knees at his side.
A young, blonde woman had arrived, too, and she seemed to be checking his injuries. She looked like she knew what she was doing, so I let her. She sat back and met my eyes. I stared at her as she shook her head.
I waited to be choked up. I waited for the wailing and the keening. I felt the sounds coming up my throat and I opened my mouth to let them out.
But the sounds were not crying, or wailing, or keening. The sounds were the words of the song Grandpa Bear had sang over the ranch hand nearly 20 years before.
I was too tired and hurt to fight it, so I rocked to the rhythm spilling over my lips. I closed my eyes and let the music flow through me. I felt the world shift.
When I opened my eyes, I saw the notes that made up everything. Joe's weak tenor hovered over me, with the woman's solid alto nearby. But I only looked at David. His notes were jumbled, tangled. I reached for them, moving them into a song. David's song.
When I was done, the healing song faded with my abused voice. I sat on my heels, breathing deeply and searching for my center.
I caught Joe's terrified gaze and motioned for a cigarette. He turned to Elliot and came back with a menthol and a lighter. Not as good as Grandpa Bear's pipe, but it would have to do.
As the tobacco calmed my spirit, I noticed the woman staring at me. I sent her a questioning look.
She backed away a step. "How did you do that?" The others retreated, too. "What are you?"