Chapter 4

Images of all the matches that night performed their dance in the squared circle of Mari’s mind as she stared out the rain streaked window of the drivers side back seat. Her parents passed the time with discussion about each others’ work the next day. “My morning will be spent helping on the Grafes plumbing issue, then I’ll be around the house the rest of the day. Hopefully I can get some more work done on remodeling the spare room into an office space.” Roz gave her husband’s statement a half smirk. She first brought up the idea a year ago and it still was not finished. The project always seemed to be hampered by lack of time or lack of funding for supplies.

“What’s going on with, what’s his name, who is constantly late” asked Magnus.

“Oh, that’d be Toby”, sighed Roz, “and I’m not sure. He has always been a good kid from what I heard around town. He’s just…not punctual. I’ll find out his fate tomorrow, but he is definitely skating on thin ice with the manager.”

“I feel bad for him if they have to let him go, but hopefully it will knock a sense of time and consideration into him to cut him loose.” said Magnus. “I do too, but I’m not that hopeful.” added Roz.

The rain was coming down even harder now, making it near impossible to make out anything outside Mari’s window. “Mom, when we get home, can you help me with a couple lingering questions I have with my homework? It’s due tomorrow and I’m stumped.”

“Sure I can try to help, dear. Which subject is it on?” asked Roz. “My english paper, I’m still struggling with parts of the story’s meaning.”

The next few minutes passed in silence. Magnus was thankful for that, as concentrating on the road was getting difficult with the inclement weather, however, they were in the final stretch for their turnoff to return home. Magnus pulled to a stop at the stop light at the top of the off-ramp, for the left turn to head towards their neighborhood.

Mari had turned her head to her lap to admire the shirt they bought. As she held the shirt close, she caught a flash out of the side of her eye before being violently rocked against her seat. Their car pushed through the guard wires as a motorist smashed into the right side of their vehicle, having lost control on the slippery roads, causing both vehicles to slide down the the ramps slopes.

The ensuing collision caused Magnus to hit his head on the driver side window, leaving a spiderweb of cracks and a blood splatter spider and knocking him out. Mari was already beginning to feel sore from the impact throwing her against the side of the door. The pain was was instantly surmounted by tears of panic, as she called out to her parents.

“Dad! Mom! Can you hear me?” cried Mari. “Mom, dad speak to me, please.”

Roz started to move, but very little, having taken the brunt of the impact. “I’m here, dear, mommy’s here.” said Roz, looking through her blood matted hair towards her daughter.

“Mom, are you going to be okay? I’m scared.”

“Don’t panic, Mari.” said Roz with pained response.

“I won’t panic.” came a tear filled reply.

“Don’t panic.”

“I won’t panic.”

“Don’t pan…”

“I won’t panic.”

“I won’t panic.”

“I won’t panic.” sobbed Mari, not realizing that the faded calls would be the last she ever received.

Emergency response arrived on the scene minutes later, despite feeling like an eternity. Magnus had come to as the vehicles pulled to a stop and began piling out with equipment. He fumbled with the seat belt, scrambling to get out of the car, and falling to the muddy ground due to the head injuries. Mari had crawled out of her seat upon seeing her dad struggle, making her way to his arms. He grasped her firmly, thankful that she was alive. Tears rolled down his cheeks as realization set in, that the same would not be said for Roz.