After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away
Joyce Carol Oates
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Jenna Abbott separates her life into two categories: before the wreck and after the wreck. Before the wreck, she was leading a normal life with her mom in suburban New York. After the wreck, she is alone, desperate to forget what happened that day on the bridge.
Then Jenna meets Crow, and her life is once again turned upside down. He begins to break down the wall that Jenna has built around her emotions. But can she bring herself to face the memories she's tried so hard to erase?
lacerations, cracked ribs. Visitors… 7 From a distance came the voice, a man’s voice. I… 8 In the blue I flew on outstretched wings. In the… 9 “Jenna, hey. You are one hell of a girl.” 10 People came to visit. Now that I was out of… 11 Tell us what you remember, Jenna. 12 But I saw it. It was there. I saw. 13 “Jenna, I thought you knew? It’s Demerol.” 14 Nowhere to hide! Aunt Caroline was surprised, the angry tears… 15 Good news: In three days I would be discharged from… 16
screaming. The guys are shouting with laughter and excitement. It’s the hyena laughter that scares me. I’m stumbling, trying not to fall. I’m in the doorway, seeing Trina naked on a grungy carpet on the floor, scissor kicking as the guys hunch over her, she’s crying, really crying, I’m saying, “Let her alone! Don’t hurt her!” and one of the guys rushes at me and shoves me away, shuts the door in my face. I’m so scared, I’m pounding on the door with my fists shouting for them to let Trina alone,
overhead, and an older man opens the door astonished to see me, I’m pleading for him to please help us, please call the police, my friend is being hurt. 14 …in the Yarrow Lake Medical Center vehicle jolting and lurching along the unpaved road to the highway, siren shrieking over our heads like a deranged seabird, the medics allow me to hold Trina’s hand, she’s moaning and writhing on a stretcher, covered in blankets, strapped in place, half conscious, sobbing, her thin cold fingers clutching at
too? Were they happy like me? This wild ride. I want never to end. What is hard to become used to is the sky overhead. My eyes keep glancing up, like something’s wrong: I’m on a vehicle without a roof. A vehicle without sides to protect the driver and me. No time to think, Am I afraid? am I terrified? It’s happening too fast for words. Late April there’s a net of glimmering green cast over everything. There’s a rich, ripe smell to the air. On the open highway pavement rushed beneath us like a
I’m laughing. In the parking lot, Crow’s motorcycle is the only vehicle. From a distance it looks sleekly powerful; close up it isn’t new or shiny but speckled with rust. The sheepskin saddle is frayed and dirty; the black paint on the chassis is chipped. A sensation of faintness comes over me; I will be riding with Crow, behind Crow and with my arms around his waist. I think Crow has hypnotized me. I think Crow has given me back my life. How to make Crow know that I love him? I will never