By Treasure Kilali
She didn’t think such a thing could happen. Definitely not on a day so random that the date had slipped from her memory a long time ago. And yet it did, and that moment froze her in time for seconds that passed too quickly for her to do anything else but react.
She couldn’t remember why exactly they had chosen that particular spot, but she knew that just like everywhere in their environment it was supposed to be safe. It had always been safe. It was this assurance, this blind trust that permitted her and her siblings to lounge casually in the front yard of their home; fingers buried deep in sand as they tried to make castles from it, and drew images of characters with creepy smiles.
The chatter had been mindless, as children do best. There was a lightness in the air, the sweet taste of freedom that came with those precious moments spent outside under the hot sun free of the sometimes piercing gaze of her mother’s eyes observing them from behind thick frames that hid her defective eye.
They screamed and yelled unintelligible things at each other, too caught up in the thrill of their playtime to notice what was about to happen. How could they expect it? This was their sanctuary and yet disaster was knocking furiously on their gates.
A horn from outside blew loud and baring and the gateman rushed to pull aside the heavy metal gate so the car of their neighbor could drive into the compound. It was a normal moment, just another day, just another car. However, her eyes shot up to look at the car; could it be that her father was back home from work? No. His car wasn’t black. And so she looked away, turning her attention back to the art she was creating with all that lovely sand.
Behind her, the car drove in. She could hear the engine as it sailed smoothly on its way past her house to the end of the road where it belonged. Suddenly, a tingling sensation coursed down the base of her neck. An urge to look up. What was it that she had seen just a moment ago when she looked in the direction of the car?
Her head shot up and whipped around so fast that she almost lost her balance. And then she saw it. Right there in the middle of the path, just a few feet from the speeding tires of the car and the ignorant driver sat her baby sister.
Only a few months old, beautiful like an angel, and moments away from being crushed to her death.
Fear gripped her heart tight. Her mouth opened and she screamed “NANA!” The little baby looked up from her own pile of sand and smiled a sweet toothless smile at the panicked face of her older sister.
She didn’t know when it happened. All she knew was that she was running as fast as her short legs could carry her, all the while praying that she would make it in time. All around her, her siblings started to notice what was going on. Terrified screams filled the air and still, she kept running. Faster, harder.
Arms outstretched she swooped up the toddler into the safety of her embrace, but her legs kept moving. The confused driver realized what was going on too late, and the car blazed past them before coming to a forced stop only some steps from where she stood clutching tightly to the last of her mother’s children.
Her heart was beating furiously and loudly in her chest, her ears were ringing, and yet all she felt was relief. She looked down into the eyes of her unsuspecting baby sister and frowned.