By: Danie Reynolds
"MOM! Matt's foot is in my face!" I shift around in my seat, and my brother's foot drops to the car floor.
"Matt," My mother chastises from the front seat. "Leave your sister alone."
"'Kay mom!" Matt has already rolled over upside down and is now playing his handheld video game.
I roll my eyes and plug my earbuds back in, desperate to drown out the excitement and noise of the car. The excitement that the rest of the family is going to California for vacation. But not me.
Mom first suggested staying at my aunt Jessica's house, but I refused immediately. Aunt Jessica was nice enough, but she had at least six dogs, and though I wasn't sure their breeds, they were ginormous.
I just wasn't exactly wanting to spend my spring break with six slobbery, nippy furballs. So then mom suggested staying with grandma and grandpa Johnson.
Most people see their grandparents pretty often, but I've only seen grandma and grandpa Johnson maybe three times. So mom thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to spend time with them. Hah.
My family usually isn't that mean. It's just that I went on vacation with a friend last week, so I have a lot of homework to catch up on. Mom figured that would be my spring break instead, so I could use the time while they were on the beach in California to do schoolwork. Which would make sense, if my trip had turned out to be good.
I honestly would have rather gone to California. My friend, Kaysie, invited me on a trip with her, and I had in mind places like Hawaii or maybe Mexico. But it turns out, we went to Kansas. Kansas.
Literally known as the plainest, most boring place ever. It was better with Kaysie, but I still would have voted out of that trip if I'd had the chance.
So yeah. That's how I ended up here. On the longest car trip of my life. We've been going for hours, and just barely hit the halfway mark. Mom and dad will drop me off in Nevada, where grandpa and grandma Johnson live, and then they'll continue on to California.
I grit my teeth and shut my eyes, trying to avoid looking at the pictures of their hotel that dad's checking out on his phone.
It's fine. It's fine. It's FINE.
It is so not fine.
I'm about to ask dad if we can stop for McDonald's when the car shudders.
Then the world flips over.
We're spun over again and again. The world pauses, focusing on only this moment. I feel weightless, but then my seatbelt cuts into my neck, and the feeling vanishes. I'm choking on the death device wrapped around my waist and neck.
I think I hear screaming, but my thoughts are too muddled to figure out where it's coming from. My head smacks against the back of my seat. The metallic taste of blood fills my mouth.
Then it all goes black.
"Yes, thank you. We'll be all right. Thank you for your services."
Mom's voice brings me back from unconsciousness.
I crack my eyes open, even that little amount of movement painful.
I'm in a room with a bunch of people in white coats. Doctors.
I groan, coughing. "Mom?" My voice is weak and sounds raspy.
"Baby! Oh, my little Katelyn. How are you, sweetie?" Mom sits down at the foot of the bed I'm rested upon. I see a bandage poking out from underneath her shirt, but she doesn't look to be in very bad shape.
"What...happened?" I whisper.
"One of the tires on the car popped. We flipped, and the ambulance came to get us a few minutes later. The car is smashed to pieces, but we found a rental place that has a car big enough for us. Everyone else is pretty much okay. Matt got an ugly bonk to the head, but he's fine now. How are you feeling?"
"Like I got in a car crash." I groan. "I'll be fine. I just need a few more minutes. Then I think we can get back on the road again."
Mom's lips twisted into an apologetic smile. "Sweetie, can you look at yourself?"
"What?" I glance down. No wonder I'm in so much pain. My right arm is in a cast, after stoking my chin, I realize there's a band-aid on it, and my left foot has a boot on it.
"Oh," I say quietly. "Guess I'm not going anywhere soon."
"Oh, but you are!" Mom's voice is sugary sweet, desperately trying to put a positive spin on the situation. "I called grandma and grandpa, and they were more than happy to come and get you. We'll head on to California, but you'll still have a great time there. The doctors say you only need a few days to recover, and then you'll be as good as new!"
I can't believe they're actually still going on vacation. But maybe now they need it more than ever, considering we almost just died in a car crash.
"All right." I try for a smile, and realize it isn't strained. That makes my smile widen.
How bad can grandma and grandpa's house really be? "I'm sorry about being so upset about it before. I'm sure I'll have a great time. I'll go to grandma and grandpa's house."
Now that I've almost died, I have a newfound respect for my family. If my mom thought this would be a terrible experience for me, she never would force me to go. I really don't know my grandparents at all, and now I'll be able to know more about them.
Mom smiles, relieved. "I'm sorry we can't take you along with us. But I'm really proud of you for the mature way you're handling the situation. I love you." She brushes a kiss against my forehead, and I close my eyes and sigh.
No mom. No dad. No pesky Matt. For an entire two weeks.
Maybe this won't be so bad after all.