Thanks to a Stranger

AuthorLady Williams
Date01 October 1985
Published date01 October 1985
Subject MatterArticle
It was as
world outside had withdrawn. Silence, deep silence. I
was numb. I couldn't breathe nor could I stop these tiny painful
gasps. My mind was clear; I was conscious -conscious of anguish
and solitude.
The crash had occurred an eternity ago. Suddenly on the
motorway the car in front slewed towards us. I shouted "Libet,
brake!" We were on top of it. In that final second "It's the end
Alan, my husband waiting there. I'll be with him. But not
Libet, please not Libet, she's too young!" A deafening crash,
shattering every sense, deadening further consciousness.
Then this silence - utter stillness. It wasn't over; no relief then in
death. Slowly, reluctantly, I opened myeyes. Ahead cars were strewn
about, people milling around, taking no notice of us. I unhooked my
seat-belt, unwound the window and shouted "Help!" but as in a
dream no sound came. I could do no more. Something hard pressed
against myshoulder; I lowered my head onto it.
came. Where
was Libet? I couldn't move; my eyes had closed. I felt the terror of
Time passed. "Oh, to stop breathing! Get it over quickly, die now,
at once." But painfully I kept inhaling air.
Atouch on my shoulder. Someone was there. A man's voice "I've
called the police; they'll be here soon." The comfort of that human
hand, that human presence! The relief, the gratitude Icouldn't
express! He was gone. I waited, the seconds stretching out, silence
and loneliness creeping back. Once more the touch on my shoulder
and the warmth of a human presence. "They'll be here soon."
Could I hold out? I tried to breathe. Pain engulfed me. I sat
motionless. "Please, no more, not the police, just death, quickly,
now!" Inside myself, I wept helplessly. Tears were too painful.
Ashuffling noise. Someone heavy beside me, seizing my wrist,
feeling my pulse and holding it in a firm grip. He said "Now Ma, stay
with me! Where's the
I whispered "Can't breathe."
"But where's the pain?"
"Move your legs." I shuffled my feet. His voice as strong and
steady as his grip.
"Any warm feeling down your front?"
"No," Imurmured and again
breathe!" Then I gasped out
"She's all right, Ma. Sitting on the verge talking to my mate. First
thing she did was ask after you. I've told her you're all right." She
October /985 343

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