This is a rewrite of one of the first tales I posted here, so things might feel familiar. Since this will be chapter by chapter, you won’t get all of this at once, but there will be some language, a car accident and a reference to an attempted suicide, so trigger warning. I’m seriously invested in this so please be as constructive as possible. I already know how good a writer I am, please point out how I’m wrong with suggestions on how to fix that. Thanks for at least giving this a look, sincerely Prudiika
You never see the big changes coming. You know, the ones that alter your life forever? They just hit you like a black car with no lights at midnight. Just WHAM, and your life will never be the same. What’s worse is that those changes usually accompany really bad days or situations you wish could be done over. I’m not really sure why I chose the particular spark I did, or why it happened on the night Mom and Dad had to go to some fancy dinner, but it happened. Mom said “no” one too many times and I snapped.
One: The Night Everything Changed
It was a warm summer night, the fourteenth of June to be exact. Rachelle and David Eaglestone were in the process of getting ready for their city’s annual summer gala. It was a chance for the people to voice their concerns, the leaders to pitch their ideas on how to fix the problems brought to their attention and for the city’s elite to decide which solutions to fund or continue funding. David had the unique privilege of being both one of the elites and a Councilman and Rachelle would use the opportunity to help her husband’s political career along, with a few well placed honeyed words. They would even have the rest of the evening to themselves, with both their daughters having plans with friends.
That was of course before the oldest, fifteen-year-old Valentine, responded to Rachelle’s request: “Remind me who’s picking you up.” With “Sarah”. Now that response sounds perfectly fine, except for the fact that Sarah was only five months older than Valentine. Rachelle looked at her daughter for a moment, before responding. “Sarah’s driving?” Valentine nodded, “Yeah, why?” With a sigh, Rachelle picked up her high-heels and headed out onto their landing, with the intent to make it downstairs. “You’re gonna need to reschedule, sweetie.”
“But her Birthday party is tonight, and you already said I could go!” Valentine managed to get in front of her mother without actually impeding her progress and put on the most betrayed face she could come up with. It didn’t work. “That was before I knew you would be riding with a new driver, Valentine. I’m not comfortable with that.” That got a scoff. “Sarah’s had her license since Monday! She’s hardly a new driver.”
Rachelle had to avoid copying her teen’s eye roll. “A week’s experience isn’t enough to change my mind, dear.” At this point the two had reached the bottom of the stairs and entered their foyer, just as David entered from the garage. “Change your mind about what?” His two favorite red heads turned toward him, simultaneously a glimpse into the past and the future. They even started speaking at the same time. “Your Daughter-Mom, won’t let…” The bearded man held up a hand and suppressed a smile. “Valentine first, then tell me why.” Valentine suppressed the urge to stick out her tongue and repeated herself. “Mom won’t let me go to Sarah’s party anymore, an it’s tonight!”
“Okay, now why? We gave our permission weeks ago, and she doesn’t need to watch Jenifer.” Rachelle used one of the side tables for support as she put on her shoes and responded. “Your daughter decided to wait until the last minute to inform me that Sarah will be driving tonight. I told her I was not comfortable with that.” David looked back to his little girl. “She’s only had her license since Monday?”
“Yeah, but she passed her first time.”
“That’s good news, but I’m afraid I need to go with your mother on this one, Kiddo.”
Valentine turned the same shade as her hair. “Oh, for Fucks sake! You’re always doing this. You’re always going back on your word. You’ve never let me leave the house except to go to school and I’m tired of this shit! I mean Jenifer gets to go to a sleep over and I don’t?! Fuck. That. You’re going to have to lock me in my fucking room in order to keep me here.” There was a moment of complete silence as Valentine’s outburst registered in everyone’s minds. Then, slowly, David took off his suit coat and hung it on a peg near the door to the garage.
“Valentine Meredith Eaglestone, get in that room now.” His voice was calm and measured, but the tone was anything but. It was a tone that let the recipient know they’d royally messed up. It had worked wonders on Seamen and Cadets, and usually worked quite well with his little girls. This time, however, Valentine was not ready to back down. “No.” She stood defiantly at the foot of the stairs, daring him to act.
As slowly as he had taken off his coat, David walked toward her. “No? You just used language toward your Mother, that I haven’t heard since I was in the Navy, language you were told never to use, an you think you can tell me ‘no’? Young lady, if you are not in your room by the time I count to three, I will open the front door and spank you in full view of the street.”
That took some of the wind from Valentine’s sails. “You wouldn’t.” David kept coming and Rachelle moved to the door. “One.” Valentine took one step up. “The neighbors would call CPS.” David kept coming and Rachelle unlocked the door. “I doubt that. Two.” Valentine bolted up the stairs. As soon as they heard her bedroom door slam, both parents let out a sigh of relief. Rachelle relocked the door. “What are you going to do if she ever calls your bluff?” David gave her a sad smile “No longer be bluffing.”
David Eaglestone was a well-built man. He could dead lift an armored chassis off a fallen soldier long enough to extract them to safety and had been trained to kill with his bare hands. He had the capacity to seriously harm anyone he struck in anger whether he was trying to or not, so he always took a moment to calm down before disciplining his kids. The act itself was almost always a spanking, bare handed and never at full strength. In this particular case, he added a mouth soaping to the regimen.
When she was allowed to spit out the suds and clean up, Valentine slammed the bathroom door in her Dad’s face, refusing the aftercare that normally followed every punishment. In between cleaning out her mouth and off her face, she managed to snarl: “I hate you and I hate Mom! Just leave me alone!” David didn’t force the issue, though he did put a gentle hand on the door. “Whether you feel like we do or not, your Mom and I love you very much. We wouldn’t discipline you if we didn’t care.” With a sigh, he collected his daughter’s computer and game system’s power supply before leaving her with “We’ll see you in the morning, Miracle Girl.”
Valentine stayed in her bathroom until several minutes after the car had left. Her angry, embarrassed and hurt tears slowly faded to sniffles, as she composed herself. She wasn’t calmed down, not anywhere close, but she wasn’t a hysterical mess either. She surveyed her room, noting the predictable absences of her entertainment. Typical, but it didn’t matter, Dad had left her phone. A wicked smile formed on her lips as she picked it up in time to get a text from Sarah. “Hey, almost there. You ready?”
Valentine returned to the packing she’d started before her mom had asked the question that started this whole mess, as she responded. “Yeah, new plan though. Meet me at the top of the street.” Sarah’s response was just as typical as David’s after punishment actions. “Weird, but okay.”
“Shoulda taken the phone, Dad.” Valentine said as she slung her duffle over one shoulder, opened her window and climbed out into the night.
True to her word, Sarah was waiting at the top of the street under a lamp. She was still dressed for her summer job at the local daycare center with her auburn hair in a ponytail. In addition to her name badge, Sarah also supported a sticker proudly proclaiming her to be the “Birthday Girl!”. A sticker that Valentine couldn’t help but notice as she jogged up. “Awe, they gave you a sticker.” Sarah smiled. “Yeah, I barely managed to talk them out of making me wear the tiara, told the kids it was too small. Anyway, why an I meeting you here?”
“Long story. So this is the new ride?” Sarah raised an eyebrow at the dodge, but followed Valentine’s lead. “Yeah, Gran got it for me. Satellite radio, road side assistance, the works.” If Valentine could have turned green, she would have. “Oh, November can’t get here fast enough.” Sarah gave her friend a little hug. “Well until then, I guess I’ll have to ferry you around.”
“Speaking of which,” Sarah said, checking her phone. “We should probably head out. Wouldn’t want to be late to my own party.” Valentine couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, that would be embarrassing.”
Two hours later, Valentine exited their local theater in a daze. Most of the other girls that had come to the first half of Sarah’s party, Birthday Girl included, had tears in their eyes. Not Valentine. She wasn’t sure what in the world she’d just watched. The hodgepodge of genres that was now seared into her mind, was so confusing that she was halfway tempted to rewatch it to make sure she hadn’t missed something, despite never moving from her seat for the entire runtime.
Her daze was almost enough for her to miss the fact that she was the only attendee not to have their own car. Almost. Sarah was quick to pick up on the change. “Okay, what’s wrong?” Valentine didn’t look up. “What do you mean?”
“You’re moping. Don’t try to deny it, I know your faces.” Valentine sighed. “I just hate being the only one who can’t drive by themselves.” That got her a wry chuckle. “Its not as freeing as you think it is. Don’t get me wrong, having a car is fun, but it’s been a week and I’ve mostly just run errands or gone to work. Honestly, having a car benefits your parents more than it benefits you.”
“That’s still better than having to wait on them, or bum a ride.”
Seeing that she wasn’t having any luck, Sarah decided to change the subject. “So, What did you think of the movie?” Valentine gave her answer to the window. “It was okay.” Sarah gave her friend a little shove. “No, what did you really think of the movie?” Valentine perked up. “You sure you want to know?”
“Yeah, lay it on me.”
“Okay, you asked for it.” Valentine took a deep breath. “The romance scenes were over acted, the comedic gags were barely funny, the action sequences were forced and the ending came out of left field.” She shook her ticket for emphasis. “I can’t believe we paid to see that.”
Sarah had to stifle a laugh. “You’re more of an action girl aren’t you?” Valentine smiled, “Yeah. The acting may be the same, but the explosions sure do make up for it.” This time Sarah did laugh. “Oh god, my best friend’s a pyro.” Valentine joined her. “Oh don’t act like you didn’t know. Seriously though, you liked it, so that means I like it.”
Valentine had said sincere things before, but this particular one, tugged a heart string. “Awe, don’t ever change Val.” Valentine smiled back, missing the tone at first. “Wasn’t planning on it.” When Sarah failed to completely look away, the red-head added, “Why are you looking at me like that?” Sarah opened her mouth to speak, but what came out wasn’t what she planned. They had just missed their turn.
“What? I mean we all do…”
“No, I just missed the turn.”
“Oh. Don’t worry, I know several ways to get to your house. Just take the second right.” Valentine was suddenly all business, the awkward moment filed away for later. Instead, she conjured up a road map and placed it over the world she was seeing, becoming a human GPS.
Throughout the trip, Sarah was too busy driving and Valentine was too busy navigating to worry about the missed moment. In fact, they were much too focused on the road to talk about much of anything. Unfortunately, the lady behind them wasn’t as focused. It was an innocent mistake, thinking the turn arrow was a full green light, but it resulted in a mild fender bender.
After the shock cleared, the first words out of Sarah’s mouth were “Shit, I just got this car. Daddy is going to kill me.” This exclamation was immediately followed by the roadside assistance kicking on. “Hello, this is Amy from Under-sun. I’ve just been informed that you were in an accident. Is everyone alright?” Valentine and Sarah took a moment to look each other over. “Yeah, we’re fine.” Sarah said after she was satisfied that Valentine was indeed fine. “It was just a fender bender.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Do you need me to send help?”
“No thanks, we can take care of it.”
“Alright, if you need anything else, please push the green button. Thank you for choosing Under-sun, roadside assistance everywhere under the sun.”
With that, the respondent disconnected. A moment later, Sarah turned on her hazard lights and stepped out of the car, followed by Valentine. The girls were met by a very apologetic middle aged woman, with graying hair. “I am so sorry, girls. I was using my phone and saw the arrow and thought it was the full green light.” Sarah managed a reassuring smile. “It’s okay mam. Neither of us was hurt. Let’s go over there and exchange info.” As they moved off, Valentine pulled out her phone. “I’ll take pictures.”
Up the road a truck ran off the shoulder, throwing up a cloud of dust. It continued to increase its speed until the engine was roaring. As he turned the corner leading to the scene of the collision, the driver threw an empty whiskey out the window. The instant it hit the pavement, the bottle was powder. It took a moment for him to realize the flashing lights were on the road and not in the air above it. A moment too long.
Valentine looked up at the sound of squealing breaks and the world went white.
Sarah let out a scream of horror and rushed over. “Val? Oh god, no!” She scooped Valentine’s head into her lap headless of the blood flowing freely from the redhead’s mouth and nose. “Come on say something, be okay.”
Mom, dad “I’m…sorry.” the last thing I said was “I hate you”. Valentine went limp in Sarah’s arms and the wail that followed, shook the stars.
The light moved away, and Valentine found herself in a tunnel. She followed the light with her eyes till it stopped at one end, then she looked the other way. She was treated to a bird’s eye view of an intersection. Half a dozen cops were working around three cars that had been in a collision. Two were forcing a man into a squad car and one was talking to a familiar looking woman and her very distraught teenaged daughter, the rest were doing what ever else cops did in such situations. All she had for reference were cop shows, and that’s when Valentine’s brain kicked back on. Oh, shit. I’m dead.
She turned to look back at the light, but any question of whether she would stay or not, was answered for her. A shadow stepped between her and the light, female in form but otherwise featureless. Somehow it spoke, its voice distorted and reverberating. “What the fuck do you think you are doing?!” Valentine tried to respond out of reflex, but suddenly shadow girl was right in front of her. “We’re not fucking done, bitch. Get the fuck back in there.” The last was accompanied by a shove that sent Val flying backwards.
Detective Carter listened to the phone roll to voicemail for the seventh time, before lowering it to his side. Miraculously, or rather thanks to its fiery case, the cell was in one piece. That was more than he could say about its owner. “Still no luck reaching her parents.” He said as his partner, Detective Chambers, walked back from getting statements. The older man nodded. “Try again in a few minutes, then have dispatch send a car to their house.” DT. Chambers continued walking to where Valentine’s tarp covered body lay. “Hell of an end to your night, eh kid?” He didn’t expect an answer, but he got one.
There was a twitch from under the tarp. At first the grizzled detective thought it was a trick of the light. Then it happened again. “The fuck?” He knelt down and lifted the tarp just in time to dodge the blood Valentine vomited before she started screaming. “Jesus Christ! She’s still alive!?” Carter echoed the expletive before frantically waving the Paramedics over. “Someone get a gurney over here now!”
Sarah had cried herself into a stupor and was just clinging to her mother. Nothing mattered anymore, Valentine was gone. The Paramedics had tried talking to her, her mom had tried talking to her, the cops had tried talking to her, but all they got out of her was “She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone.” So they’d put her in the Ambulance to calm down. If being latched to your mother, drenched in blood and tears and hiccupping periodically was calm, then it worked.
When the door was thrown open, Sarah expected to get asked to leave. Instead, she and her mother were sent toward the front of the patient compartment. “Hey, you’re her friend right?” It took a moment for Sarah to realize she was being spoken to. “Yeah.” The Paramedic put her in a wall mounted chair that faced a very much alive, yet worse for the wear, Valentine. “Get her talking, we need her to stay awake. If she passes out again, we might loose her.”
Surprised by this sudden turn of events, the first words out of Sarah’s mouth were: “So Val, what was the last movie you watched?” Despite her pain and the oxygen mask that was currently helping her breathe, Valentine managed to say aloud what Sarah had immediately thought, while also managing an incredulous look. “You were there. Like literally right next to me.” Sarah got a “roll with it” motion from her mother and did so.
“I know, but you have a photographic memory right?”
“So, you need to keep talking and Mom hasn’t seen it.” Sarah’s Mom helpfully added: “I’d like to though.” as Sarah urged Valentine on. “Go on, give us a replay.” Which was enough to convince Valentine. “Ugh, the one thing I don’t want to remember right now. Fine, but I warn you it’s gushy.” She let out a shriek as the Ambulance hit a small bump before continuing. “It starts with this girl named Haley witnessing a crime. She then has to go into witness protection…”
David was in a very heated discussion with several international businessmen when the hostess found him. “Excuse me, Councilman Eaglestone?” He excused himself and turned to the young woman. “Yes?” He was handed his phone. “You left this in your coat sir. I’m sorry it took us so long to find it. You have several missed calls from a ‘Valentine’.” She then curtsied at his thanks and headed back to the entrance, as David called his daughter back.
“Valentine, I’m sorry I missed…” He was interrupted by Dt. Carter. “I’m sorry, sir. This is Detective Carter…” David took a moment to recover from having a man answer his little girl’s phone. “You’re who?” Unfortunately, used to such reactions, the Detective repeated himself. “I’m Detective Caleb Carter, Valentine has been in an accident…”
“Been in an accident, they’re taking her to Adams Regional. I’m not going to lie sir, it’s bad.”
David thanked the Detective, who promised to bring Valentine’s phone to the hospital, and was at Rachelle’s side in the blink of an eye. Rachelle was at first annoyed at having her meeting interrupted, then she saw her husband’s face and heard his tone. “Sweetheart, we need to leave. Now.” They were retrieving David’s suit coat before she asked, “Why? What’s going on?” The response felt like a knife to her chest. “It’s Valentine, she been in some sort of accident.”
The Adams Regional Emergency room was thankfully empty when Valentine was rushed in. Dr. Adams himself was there to meet her and to catch the ending of the movie. “…and she runs across the beach and throws herself into his arms. Cue credits.” His raised eyebrow was met with, “We needed her to stay awake.”
“Good call. What’s her name?”
The Doctor put a hand on Valentine’s shoulder. “Valentine, my name is Doctor Adams, I’m going to be taking care of you, okay?” Valentine was loosing her battle to stay awake, but managed a week “Thank you.” Sarah and her mom were stopped at the main entrance as everyone else continued to rush the fading Valentine inside. “Is that your blood?” Sarah shook her head. “Then, I’m sorry, but you need to wait out here.”
Sarah gazed past the door that was slammed in her face for an uncomfortable moment. Her mother gently guided her to a chair as she started sobbing again. “She’s going to be okay, sweetie.” Sarah shook her head. “No she isn’t. I felt her die, Mom. I felt it.” Sarah was wrapped in a hug. “But she didn’t die, Sarah. She talked to us all the way here.” Sarah pushed her mother away and stood up again. “But what if that wasn’t her? What if I got my best friend killed and something else came back in her place?”
“Sarah Jane Carter!” Her mother’s words slapped her across her face. “You stop that right now. This wasn’t your fault, and in a few days you and Val will be back to mischief making just like old times.” Sarah just shook her head and collapsed in another chair, unconvinced and still drenched in tears.
Unable to help her baby girl anymore, Sarah’s mom stepped outside. She was about to ask a nearby nurse for her first cigarette in years, when Rachelle and David ran up. “Kimberly? Oh God, don’t tell me Sarah’s hurt too.” Kimberly shook her head, “Sarah’s not hurt Rach, but she’s not okay either.” David nodded understandably before joining the conversation. “So what’s going on Kim? They said Valentine was in some sort of accident?”
Kimberly looked at her friends with sympathy, “She was hit by a car.” Rachelle’s hands flew to her mouth. “Oh God!” At the same time the barrier underneath David’s hand cracked. “How?” Kim took a breath before answering. “She and Sarah were in a fender bender and while Sarah was getting the other lady’s information, Valentine was taking pictures.” Kim faltered as the relief that her little girl was safe and the grief for her friends choked her up. “A drunk driver blew the curve and sandwiched Valentine between the first two cars.”
Rachelle let out and unintelligible cry and David’s barrier broke completely. “Is she…” he couldn’t complete his sentence, but he didn’t have too. “They have her in surgery and she was talking on the way here. That’s all I know.” Rachelle swallowed the lump in her throat and turned the focus to the other girl affected by the night’s tragedy. “How’s…Sarah? You said she wasn’t okay?”
“Shaken up mostly, but she’s convinced herself that the whole thing was her fault. I told her it wasn’t, but it might have a better impact coming from you two.”
The three moved back inside and Rachelle was immediately seized by a sobbing Sarah. “I’m so sorry, Mrs. E.” The distraught girl’s words were choppy and mumbled into a cocktail dress, but Rachelle understood. She wrapped Sarah in a hug and began soothing her hair. “Shh, it wasn’t your fault, dear.” From the other side came David, strong arms shielding Sarah from the pain. “You didn’t do this, kiddo. Don’t blame yourself.” Kimberly completed the triangle, placing a kiss on Sarah’s head. “It’s going to be okay, sweetie.”
The sun was just peering over the horizon, when Doctor Adams returned. Kimberly had fallen asleep against a wall, with Sarah passed out on her lap. Rachelle had at least made it to a chair. Only David was awake to see the Doctor enter. He broke off his multi-hour chant of “Pull through Miracle Girl, pull through.” And looked up.
“You must be the Eaglestones.” The Doctor said coming over to stand before him and Rachelle. David nodded, gently shaking his wife awake. “That’s us.” Dr. Adams’ smile was all the answer they needed, but he gave them one anyway. “I have very good news, Valentine is going to be fine.”
Rachelle let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank God.” David hugged her as he asked. “Can we see her?” The Doctor shook his head. “We need to keep her under observation to make sure there are no complications. However, things should go well enough that you can see her tomorrow evening. Go home, get some rest and relax. We’ll call you if there’s any change.”
David shook Dr. Adams’ hand. “Thanks, Doc.”
“It’s my job. Now go take care of yourselves.” With that the Doctor returned to the interior of the hospital, leaving David and Rachelle to relay the good news. “See?” Kimberly said as she helped Sarah to her feet. “I told you she was going to be Okay.” Sarah nodded. “Yeah” I just hope it’s really her.