The afternoon passed rather fast. Sabrina would later remember it as a rapid succession of pool games and tanning sessions on the chairs, interspersed with the occasional grilled hamburger or chicken wing, with Dave accepting and winning a challenge by one of his cousins for a 20-lap, 1-kilometer swimming race. She would recall that only two of his cousins spoke french, but translated for her so she was able to join in the chatter. She also remembered that Dave’s uncle was a horribly bad cook, with his aunt soon taking over at the grill. Soon enough it was about four, and Sabrina found herself saying goodbye in broken english to Dave’s relatives.
After they had gone, Dave remembered he had left his swim shorts in the gents. Telling Sabrina to go ahead, he had just turned back toward the sports complex when it happenned…
A blue buick was coming down the road when unexpectedly, out of nowhere, an SUV came hurtling out from a side street. Seeing each other, both drivers reflexively spun their steering wheels, sending both cars hurtling towards Sabrina as she stood on the pavement. Dave turned back at the screeching, and watched in horror as he saw both cars hurtle towards a screaming sabrina who was frozen to the spot in fear…
He acted on instinct. Driven by a lifetime of movies, he yelled out “Sabrina! watch out!” as he somehow managed to dash over and crashed into her football-style, knocking her away from the impending cars…
An instant later, the two cars collided head-on just where Sabrina had been standing. Dave and Sabrina stared at it, wide eyed as time seemed to slow…
The front of the cars seemed to crumple as they touched each other, folding like a japanese paper fan, solid sheet metal crushed by awesome powers. The windows went next, the front windows shattering into a million tiny pieces, followed slowly by the side and back glass plates. They saw the airbags inflate too late, saw one of the passengers in the buick hurtle through the shattered windshield as the behemoths of iron, their force waning, spun to a stop…
An instant later, the sound hit. The noise was immeasurable, the sound of metal tearing and warping, the thunder of hammers and the bang of explosives all combined into one. It rolled over and flattened them, causing Sabrina to whimper in fear and clutch David’s shirt tightly as David curled around her protectively.
Time sped up, returning to normal, and Dave winced as sensations from his body came swarming back. His knee had been bloodied as he slid across the floor, leaving a short trail of blood, and he felt the sting of powdered glass on his back. He also realised that he was lying curled up around Sabrina and hurriedly uncurled himself from the rather compromising position. Sabrina, however, clung to him, crying into his shirt, whimpering as he tried to disentangle himself.
"No…don’t go…"she cried softly.
“It’s all right, Sabrina…Its all right…” Managing to sit up, he pulled Sabrina’s small body close to his, one arm around her shoulder as he tried to calm her down. “C’mon…let go, i have to see if anyone’s injured…”
“Stay with me!” She cried more loudly, sobbing and gripping him. He shrugged and lifted her small frame, moving away from the accident. By this time, doors all around the neighbourhood were slamming open as the residents who were at home came rushing over. The swimmers at the pool clustered around the railing, gasping in horror as the Lifeguards ran down to see if anyone was injured.
They were maybe 8 meters away when the cars exploded.
A wave of air rushing over them was the only warning they got, but it was enough to prompt Dave to throw Sabrina to the ground and flatten himself on top of her. When the fireball from the fuel tanks came raging out, scattering burning pieces of metal all around, he yelled in pain as some red-hot pieces of metal came plunging down onto his shirt, which started to smoulder. He quiclky rolled over, smothering the flames, before turning to look at Sabrina again.
Sabrina was staring at the fireball in a daze, her fingers curled in a death grip around his trouser leg. Her face had gone pale beneath the tan, and she was unconciously huddling against him. Dave knelt down beside her, finding her pulse shallow and weak and her skin cold and clammy. She was going into shock.
“Sabrina? are you all right?” He asked, at the same time grabbing his swim towel from the floor beside him where it had been thrown. Wrapping it around her, he attempted to warm her before he realised that a small puddle was growing on the floor around her, soaking her pants. He grimaced, muttering to himself “well, thats an interesting way of keeping yourself warm…”
Someone had evidently called 911, because the next thing he knew, the police cars had swarmed onto the scene, paramedics were running out with stretchers from ambulances and fire engines were hosing down the burning wrecks. Noticing him, two paramedics rushed over accompanied by a policeman.
One of paramedics began administering first aid to Sabrina, attempting to bring her out of shock as the other tended to the small burns on Dave’s back and the scrape on his knee. At the same time, the policeman was questioning him.
“Where were you at the time of the accident?”
“I was standing right there, and she was standing at the kerb - about where the cars are now. I managed to knock her out of the way in time…”
“Ok, and can you tell me what exactly you saw?”
“I can’t say…my back was turned. All i heard was a tremendous crash…then everything else is kinda blurry…”
“Right, son. Well, can you give me the particulars of you and your sister?”
“oh, she’s not my sister, she’s my neighbour. They just moved in from France, and we were coming from a pool party.” He gave the officer his name, home number and address."
Just then, a panicked cry alerted him. “David!” sabrina was screaming, recoiling from the paramedics. “Dave!”
He rushed over, and Sabrina almost leaped into his arms, sobbing and crying. Dave stroked her head with one hand while hugging her close with the other, whispering comforting phrases into her ear.
“She doesn’t seem to understand us,” the paramedic commented.
“Oh, she only understands French. Her parents just came in yesterday. Is she all right?” the paramedic nodded. “She’ll be fine. All she needs is some rest and time to get over this incident. And oh, did you know she wet her pants?”
“Yeah. I’ll bring her home then.”
“All right. Put her right to bed once you get there, don’t give her anything to eat until she wakes up. She should be better after a night’s rest. This is a pretty traumatising thing, you know.”
“Thanks. I will.” lifting her up like a toddler, over hsi shoulder, he carried her all the way back to her house.
She was still crying when they got there, when he had to put her down and fish out her keys from her pocket. Unlocking the door, he carried her into the house, setting her on the couch and hugging her, letting her weep herself out.
The shaking finally stopped after several minutes, and she lifted her tear-streakd face and almost embarrassedly wiped away her tears. David smiled understandingly and released her from his embrace. She drew back, but still kept hold of Dave’s hand.
It was then she noticed her wet pants, and gasped in shock as her face flushed in embarrassment. “Err…”
“Yeah, you wet your pants. Its all right, just that in the stress of that accident, you had an accident. Er, pun not intended.” She smiled weakly nonetheless.
“I think i’d better go shower and change…”
“A WARM shower, mind, cold showers now can make you go into shock.”
She stood up from the couch, still holding on to his hand. “Erm…David?” she asked tenatively.
“Can you come and shower me?”
Dave was shocked, and said the first thing that came to his mind. “Sabrina, it’s not very right, you know…i mean, what if your parents came home? I’m a guy, you’re a girl, its just…not a very pleasant situation, you know?”
“Yes but…i’m kinda scared…”
“Well, i can wait for you in your room while you shower, if you want…”
“Yes please!” She pulled at his hand, and he followed her up the stairs into her room. Her things were still in the travel bag, so she took out a set of PJs before going into the attached shower. She hesitatied as she was going in.
Dave understood her action, and smiled reassuringly. “Leave the door open a bit. If you get a bit scared, just call out and i’ll answer.”
“Ok.” she finally went into the bathroom.
David heard the sound of the spigot coming on and turned to examine the room. He opened the window, letting in fresh air, before aiming the fan out of it to try and clear the foul air in the room. He also hung her wet shorts and underpants at the window to get them to dry.
He heard a soft “David?” as the spigot shut off, and replied “I’m right here, 'Brina, do you need anything?”
“err…no…” sabrina shampooed her hair and soaped her body before rinsing it off with a jet of water.
Just then, Sabrina’s room door opened as Sabrina’s mother came in. “Sabrina, why didn’t you answer the door…” she said, before she noticed Dave. Startled, she jerked back, before her eyes narrowed.
“Just who are you?” she asked in English. “What are you doing in my daughter’s room? and most importantly, where’s my daughter?”
“…Mrs Lecarr. I’m David, your neighbour, and well…your daughter was almost involved in a car accident, to put it bluntly.” he silenced her with a raised hand, continuing “As you can hear, she’s in the shower. I just brought her back as she was shocky…”
“Why’s the door open?” She asked suspiciously.
“Oh, she didn’t want me to leave her alone. She wanted me to go into the shower with her, but i thought that was…uh…inappropriate.” Just then, the spigot turned off and Sabrina could be heard in the toilet, putting on her clothes. She called softly “Dave…?”
“Yes? need anything?”
“Can you pass me my shirt? i forgot to bring it in…”
Mrs Lecarr simply raised an eyebrow. Wow, Dave thought, talk about laissez-faire! This woman would put all the men in the world to shame…
Sabrina came out of the toilet, seeing only Dave in her room. She ran over to him and hugged him fiercely, whispering softly “Thanks for waiting…”
Her mother cleared her throat, and she turned around. “Mom!” she cried, and ran over to hug her. To her utmost embarrassment, she began to cry again, softly.
“Shh, my little princess, mummy’s here…” David hesitantly made to leave the room, but Sabrina saw him and cried out “No, Dave, don’t go!”
“I’m just going to use the toilet downstairs…” he lied smoothly, shrugging at Mrs Lecarr’s raised eyebrow.
By the time he relieved himself and came back upstairs, Sabrina had apparently finished telling most of what had happenned to her mother, who looked at him with considerably less hostility. She was trying to talk about the accident, but kept breaking down, crying into her mother’s shoulder.
“Er…Mrs Lecarr, the paramedic i talked to said she should go to sleep as soon as possible…”
“Right, then. Go to sleep, princess, you’ll feel better in the morning…”
“Can Dave stay with me till i go to sleep? I’m scared…”
“Well, why not?” Mrs Lecarr said. “I’ll have to do some work about this, so i might as well get started. David, do you mind?”
“Not at all. My parents don’t really mind what i do as long as i stay out of trouble and come home before nine.”
“Right, then, i’d better get started. Thats the problem about being a foreign national, you have to do everything through the embassy…” she mutterred, leaving the room and turning the light off while switching on a small nightlight, leaving Dave with Sabrina in the semi-darkness.
“Well, what do you want me to do, my lady?” He asked uncomfortably. Being an only child, he never had had a younger sibling."
“Can you tuck me in, then lie down next to me?” she shyly asked.
“Sure.” He did so, awkwardly wedging himself next to her.
“Thanks for carrying me home…” she said, her voice quavering.
“Its all right. I know it must have been hard on you, but you’re ok now, right?”
At his words, Sabrina’s control broke and she began to cry again. Dave reached over and gathered her into his arms, resting her head against his shoulder, making her cry harder.
"I was so scared…they would have hit me and killed me and i couldnt even do anything about it…"She cried into his shoulder. Her entire body was shaking now, quavering with sobs.
Dave simply held her closer, engulfing her in a protective shell of warmth made by his arms…
About an hour later, a rather tired Dave gently got off the bed, pushing a bolster where he had lain, silently leaving the room and the sleeping figure inside. He gently closed the door, and came face to face with a middle-aged man.
“Mr Lecarr, i presume?” He extended his hand.
“Yes.” the man paused, and a mass of emotions crossed his face. He coughed, and awkwardly tried to begin. “I can’t thank you enough for saving my daughter…”
“What do you mean?” He was confused. “Even I don’t know exactly what i did…”
“Look at the television.”
To David’s utter amazement, a black and white video of him and Sabrina outside the swimmning complex was being shown on the television. The news announcer was saying “…this footage was obtained from a security camera outside the swimming complex. Here, you can see the accident clearly, and this young man’s heroic deed to save the young girl.” The screen showed him whirling and leaping, moving at almost superhuman speeds as he knocked Sabrina away just before the two cars collided right where she had been standing. “Two women and a man were killed, with one more in critcal condition. Police have ruled out any deliberate foul play, but have reason to believe one of the drivers was under the influence of alcohol.”
The screen picture changed. “In today’s market news, the Dow Jones…”
Dave turned to Mr. Lecarr, who was staring at him.
“Thank you.” He said, giving David an awkward hug. “I have no idea how i can repay you…”
Slightly uncomfortable, he gave a small shrug and smiled slightly. “It’s all right, Mr. Lecarr. I’d do the same for any friend of mine. If you really wish to thank me, you can give me a truckload of Belgian chocolates?!” he joked.
Mr Lecarr looked at him thoughtfully. To his utmost shock, Mr. Lecarr said “I can manage that. When would you want it?”
He gaped. “I was only joking!” he exclaimed.
Mr Lecarr gave a small smile. “So was I. I can arrange for a carful, if you’d like, but a truck is too big.”
David stammered out “Err…no, its ok, i was seriously joking. If you want to repay me, how about letting me take her to the amusement park on Friday?”
Mr Lecarr gave him an odd look, before smiling. “Sure. I’d trust you with her safety.” He stuck out his hand and David shook it warmly.
It was already about 8.30 pm then, so David went back to his house, where his father greeted him with a “And here’s our hero now!”
“Do you mind, Dad, its been a long day and i’m really tired…”
“Sure, son. Now, mom and I are going over to talk to our new neighbours…”
“Yes, them. Have a good nights rest! Its only the first week of summer and you’re already a celebrity. I’d like to see what happens during the rest of the break!”
Dave groaned. His father meant well, but he embarrassed him at times…
He yawned, and realised he was seriously tired. Exhausted, even. Stripping down to his boxers, he lay on his bed and instantly fell into a deep sleep.