The wreckage spilled out in front of me, hunks of twisted metal sending sparks across the tarmac. I could not understand it all in one look. Flames caught and held on the far side, dark liquid pooling under the shadows.
It was dark, but I was not so far away. My own brakes held firmly to the floor, half my tyres left behind me in black marks that would last for years. I could see in the light of the fire, flickering from every metal surface that shone dully and broken. The glass was shattered.
It was only me that saw her. Trapped in the back seat, worthy of burnt palms and sooty clothes. I glanced around, but we were still alone. Out of what had been the back window, I know she saw me.
My conscience burned like the car. But I had my own precious cargo. For a few moments I did not know what to do. My seatbelt was tightly fastened and had pressed firmly against the swell of my stomach when I stopped, the discomfort even now a thing that hung in the air. Dangerous enough. What more?
But she was young, and worthy, and here needing me now rather than in two months. I fumbled with the belt for just a moment before the door let in a blast of the cold air. Closer to them it was not so cold. Closer to her I could feel the heat on my face.
My palms burned, but she was cooking. I pulled her out and held her to me, rare salvage, precious treasure. We both fell back to the floor and half-crawled away, her face sobbing great tears that went nowhere and everywhere. Someone at last — calling for help on the phone and bringing us both back to the edge of safety.
Then it was all fire and rage, the air blasting back into our faces. Black liquid pooled on the floor and I prayed for forgiveness for the relief that it was not mine, ours. The smoke filled my lungs but not yours. Dear one. She says that one day she will bear a child with my name. I tell her to use yours.
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