Falling in the RainbyLuckie_Duckie©
The collision was momentous. As the dark Ford pick up truck swerved into the opposite lane of traffic, the driver of the car in the opposite lane stepped frantically at her break petal, desperately trying to get out of the way of the on coming truck.
It was no use. The truck hit the small sedan head on. The sound of metal screeching against metal, of metal twisting on asphalt rang in the dense silence. When the car came to a screeching halt, everything in the dark night air seemed still and dead, silent as the grave.
Twenty minutes later, the heavy set deputy sheriff worked on removing the small girl from the twisted wreckage when he found a small black purse crumpled next to the unconscious child. Ignoring it for the moment, Yancy worked on pulling the young girl from her seat. Doc Cameron was on his way, as he had radioed the accident in almost twenty minutes ago. Hopefully the doctor would be here any moment.
Sweat dripped down Yancy's spine, making his shirt feel cold and wet in the night air. He'd been working frantically for what seemed like forever trying to get the little girl out of the wreck. Initially the door had refused to open, so he had to enlist the help of the officer, who now worked on the other side of the car trying to get the woman out of it, to help him pry the door open. All the while, thoughts of knowing that the threat of a fire still plagued them danced in the Deputy's mind.
He worked diligently on the belt that fastened the little dark haired girl into the car. He pulled and tugged frantically, wishing for the pocket knife he usually carried with him. But damn him, he had left in the office this fateful night. Pulling frantically at it once more, it finally gave with a soft ripping sound.
Looking down at the little girl who appeared as still as death he felt a coldness wash over him. She should be at home in bed right now, he thought sorrowfully. Careful of her head, he reached out to pull her from the wreckage. His large hand touched her face gently, but quickly withdrew when he felt a cold wetness on his fingers. Pulling back, he looked at his fingers. Lord, but they burned. Smelling them, he couldn't name the chemical that had splashed all over the small child.
"Jesus H. Christ!" He yelled loudly and ducked into the compact car and pulled the girl out hastily, being as cautious as he could of her head. Her face was completely ashen and her eyes were closed lightly. Feeling a tightness in his chest, he laid the girl on the ground and tried to wipe away as much of the chemical on the girl's small face as he could. His hand burned from the effort, but he didn't care. The little one was all that mattered now. Digging in his pants pocket he quickly found his handkerchief, and begun to wipe her face with a renewed vigor.
"Did you get her?" He heard a voice coming from the other vehicle. Turning toward the voice, he looked across the desolate highway to see the blue Ford that hit the compact car. The driver, a young man no more than twenty five, was as drunk as a soldier celebrating his leave. He swerved to miss a damn squirrel and hit the woman and her child.
"Shut the hell up." Yancy ordered and turned his attention back to the little one. She was too small to be hurt this badly, his mind shouted. Suddenly he remembered the purse in the small car. Rushing back to where he had seen it, he ducked into the car and felt around the floor until he found it. Pulling it out, he returned to the child and leaned down close to her.
"I don't know if you can hear me, honey," he said quietly, "but if you can, we're gonna get you some help. I promise, honey. Don't you worry."
When he looked at the woman in the driver's seat, he wasn't able to recognize her. Her face had been mutilated, and all the bones in her face had been crushed. All it was now was a pile of mush and muscle matted where her face had once been. He winced at the sight of the poor woman.
Reaching into the little black purse, he found the wallet almost immediately. It was a matching black leather wallet that obviously carried many credit cards because of it's weight. Opening it, he scanned quickly for picture identification. A Montana State driver's license sat in a clear section of the wallet. Pamela Mills.
Oh, shit. Yancy knew immediately who the woman was. She was the wife of Jim Mills a local rancher. Oh God, this was little Jessica Mills, he thought looking down at the little dark haired girl. Yancy felt suddenly sick to his stomach. The Mills Family were pillars of the community, and had never done a thing wrong in the years their families had lived in these parts of Montana. He felt anger mixed disgustingly with bile, rising in his throat. If he could get his hands on the out-of-town drunk, he would kill him after he let Jim beat the hell out of him.
"Dave," Yancy called to the officer whom had just freed Pamela's body from the twisted wreckage. The young officer, barely twenty three, looked at Yancy, apprehension clear in his gaze. "It's the Mills women, Pamela and Jessica." Hearing Dave curse loudly, Yancy looked up to see a flash of yellow and blue lights, indicating Doc Cameron had arrived.
He watched silently as the doctor rushed out of the large black van that had brought him here, and rushed to Yancy's side and looked at the child. "Is this Jessica Mills?" He asked quietly as he began to check vital signs. Yancy nodded quietly. "So I can safely assume that wreck of a person over there is Pam." He said as more of a statement than a question.
"Yeah." Yancy said breathlessly.
"Okay, she's alive, but she won't be unless we get her to a hospital quickly." Cameron picked up the girl quickly and placed her on a stretcher in the black van. Walking behind the doctor, Yancy turned away from the sight the doctor walked to, and grimaced. Pamela wasn't recognizable. He knew they would have to use a combination of her identification card and dental records to verify her identity.
Feeling a wave of sympathy for Jim, Yancy took a deep breath and stared at the sky. "She's dead, isn't she Doc?" He asked, well aware of the tremor in his voice and how it made him crack emotionally. He had never seen anything this bad before. Nothing this bad in his fifteen years with the force. Feeling a deep sympathy for Dave, Yancy looked over at the young officer. The poor kid had only been on the Spring Creek Force for two short months. Already, he was seeing the worst humanity had to offer.
"Yeah, she's gone." Doc Cameron said quietly, and bowed his head. He knew that the doctor was praying for her and the child. "Do I need to check the driver of the other vehicle?" He asked finally standing and looking at Yancy. Yancy shook his head.
"No. He just got a couple of minor scratches, possibly a concussion, and that's about it." Yancy looked at the man who held on to his head in the blue pick-up. "I wish I could kill that bastard." He couldn't believe he was actually seeing a man who killed a woman, and almost killed a child, all because he didn't want to hit a damn squirrel in his drunken stupor.
Ten minutes later, Yancy watched as a helicopter rushed little Jessica Mills to the hospital, a hundred fifty miles away in Butte. Turning to the driver, he felt anger simmering. Walking over, he grabbed the man by the collar of his sweater and yanked him to his feet. "Your under arrest for manslaughter and for driving under the influence; possibly two charges of manslaughter. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can not afford one, the court will appoint one to you. . ."
Yancy's voice faded into the night as he placed the man into the police cruiser and closed the door. Quietly, he opened his door, slid into the driver's seat and started the car. Turning the car toward the Rocking M, Jim Mills' ranch, he drove into the night. His only assurance that the accident had really happened was the fact that a man sat quietly behind him, and his partner was quietly weeping to himself.
He had to break the news to Jim, himself.
* * * * *
Light flooded Jessica's eyelids, and she felt compelled to open her eyes. For some reason, she couldn't. Panic swept over her for a long minute. Why couldn't she open her eyes? Where was Mama? Daddy? Where was she? "Daddy?" Jessica hadn't realized she had called out in her panic until she felt a warm hand envelope hers.
"It's okay, honey. Daddy is right here." His voice sounded muffled and far away. Cotton scratched her ears, but the voice of her father soothed her aching soul. "Rest, sugar. It will be okay. Daddy promises." Sighing contentedly, Jessica did her best to nod, and fell into the pit of darkness that surrounded her.
Jim Mills watched his daughter with tears in his eyes. This wasn't supposed to happen; not to his family. Jessica was only a little girl. Pamela was still so young. He still couldn't grasp the fact he lost his wife. Now, Jessica might be going, too. His heart crushed at the very thought of it.
He tried to push back the tears that he felt flooding his eyes as he looked down at his child, his only child. Bandages wrapped around her head, holding the gauss that was placed on Jessica's eyelids; covering her eyes and her tiny ears, ears her mother had constantly said were his ears.
Jim broke down into heart wrenching sobs. His daughter's body was so small in the large hospital bed she had been placed in nearly three days earlier. Her face, the visible portion at least, was pale, as white as the bandages wrapped around her face.
Laying his face on the bed, he tried to quiet his sobs. The last thing he needed to do right now was to wake Jessica. She didn't even know she was in the hospital. He cried long and hard until he was asleep, his face lined with tears.
The next morning, when Jessica awoke, she opened her eyes and saw a light like nothing she had ever seen before. White-blue light streaked all over the small room. Glancing around the room, she didn't understand why she wasn't in her bed at home. Where was Daddy?
Suddenly, she remembered hearing his voice and his hand on hers. Turning her head toward the direction she recalled his voice coming from, she saw him, lying face down on her bed, tears stained his face. Reaching a hand out, she wiped them away. His head turned into her touch, and she smiled.
Panic seized her heart suddenly, and she wondered why he was crying. Daddy never cried. Grabbing at his shoulder, Jessica began to shake him. "Daddy! Daddy, wake up! Please, Daddy, wake up!" Jessica pleaded. For the first time in her short life, she didn't know if her Daddy would wake.
Groggily, Jim opened his tear busied eyes and looked up at Jessica. She sat in the bed, her hand on his shoulder, shaking gently. When he opened his eyes and pulled his head up, she smiled a reassured smile and leaned back on the pillows. "Daddy, why are you sad?" She asked, her mouth becoming a thin line, a sad expression crossing her small features.
"Jessica? You're awake?" Jim jumped up, and was surprised beyond words when she seemed to follow his movements, even though her eyes were covered in gauss. He paused a minute before dashing toward the door of her hospital room. The door swung open, and Jim rushed out, demanding her doctor immediately.
Jessica stared at her father in disbelief. What the heck was he doing? Jessica wondered while she climbed out of the big bed and walked into the hall. A woman wearing a nurses uniform stood at a desk across the hall from her room. A light pink light filtered around her, and for some reason, it made her seem more approachable.
"Um, lady, where did my Daddy go?" She asked the nurse as politely as she could. She knew Momma would want her to be polite, no matter what.
"Excuse me?" The nurse looked extremely confused. "Honey, what are you doin' out of your bed? Come on, before you hurt yourself." The nurse stood up and walked around the desk, her hand out to hold Jessica's. Jessica stepped back from the woman and watched the nurse's color change from a light pink to a darker pink, and swirl into a dark orange color.
"I don't want you to touch me!" Jessica yelled, suddenly alarmed. What was going on with the colors? Turning, Jessica ran toward the room she had come from. She ran into the room and jumped on to the bed, pulling the covers over her head and wishing she was home with Momma and Daddy. She felt tears slip from her eyes, and tried to wipe them away.
Panic once again seized her when she felt the bandages on her eyes. That was impossible! She could see, how could she have something wrapped around her face? She pulled and tugged on the bandages until they tore free from her face. She touched her face and felt the soft smoothness of her young skin.
Hearing the door open, she looked up to see her father walk into the room with a man wearing a white lab coat. Her father stopped when he saw her, and simply stared at her. "Jessica?" Her dad's voice sounded strained. The doctor wasn't as affected by Jessica's appearance as her father was. He sighed silently and walked forward.
"Hello Jessica. My name is Doctor Andrew Johanson. You can call me Doctor Andy. Okay?" He smiled reassuringly at Jessica, and she nodded. "How are you feeling today? How are your eyes feeling?" Jessica shrugged, her eyes never straying from her fathers form. Even though he simply stared at her, she found his presence comforting. Daddy wouldn't let anything happen to her.
Ten minutes later, after finishing the examination, Andy Johanson shook his head. His little patient was blind. How was he supposed to tell her father? He had made worse announcements, at least she was alive. If he had a problem with that, like a few of the parents he worked with, he would turn him over to social services.
Standing up, Andy motioned Jim over. "Mr. Mills, I am sorry. Jessica is blind. The chemicals were in her eyes for too long, and her pupil and retina were damaged before she even got here." Jim looked crestfallen.
"She'll be fine except for the blindness right?" Jim asked quickly after a short silence.
"Perfect. Besides the blindness, she is in perfect health. Blindness..."
"I'm not blind!" Jessica screamed.
Both men looked at her, stunned expressions on their faces. "Jessica, your retinas are destroyed, and your eyes can't focus." Andy turned to Jim. "She is physically blind."
"That's not right! Don't listen to him, Daddy! I can see perfectly!" Jessica yelled to the men staring at her. She could tell they didn't believe her. "Daddy, your wearing the sweater Momma made you last Christmas, and your favorite work jeans. I see the doctor. He has blonde hair and pretty brown eyes, like chocolate chip cookies. Please, believe me. You," She said pointing at the doctor, "have a blue color around you. Daddy, you've got a dark green around you.
The door to the room opened slowly. "I heard the child was awake." The minister smile boldly as he saw the little girl sitting on her bed, an exasperated look on her face. "How is she fairing?" An older man entered the room, dressed in casual black with a simple white collar. The hospital chaplain walked across the room and stood next to the doctor.
"Well little Jessica here has gone blind, but she can see everything." Dr. Johnson looked amazed even as he spoke. "Our faces, our clothes, everything."
Jim answered in awe. "It must be a gift from God." He said, his voice a low whisper. Jim was not a church going man, but that seemed to be the only explanation. The three men looked at her in stunned silence.
"So He has," the chaplain said and smiled down at Jessica. "The gift to see with out seeing. She can live a normal life, by the graciousness of God." Jessica looked confused by all the commotion going on around her. "When can the blessed child go home, Doctor?" Andy shrugged looking confused.
"I suppose tomorrow. If she passes all her tests, she can leave in the morning." The confused look never left the doctors face, even as he left the room. Deep down, Jessica knew it wouldn't be the last one she got.
* * * * *
Mid April 2006
Jessica sighed and pulled her blue sweater over her head. Why did she have to meet her Dad's new girlfriend? She was sure she was going to like the woman, after all, Dad was a great guy and would only choose a wonderful woman. Wouldn't he?
The woman's name echoed through Jessica's mind. The woman her father had been seeing for the past three months. To Jessica it seemed fitting that he had finally gotten up the courage to ask her to come to his home, and to meet his daughter. She shuddered, thinking about how serious this relationship was between her father and Lacy. This was the only woman he had ever brought home for her to meet, the only one he seemed serious about since her mother's death eleven years ago.
"It's about time he got serious about someone," Jess said more to herself than to anyone. Standing, she walked toward the mirror on her dresser and primped. An oddity for her, but she wanted to make a good impression this woman. She wore her dark shoulder length hair up in a pony tail like she always did, but curled the hair in the pony tail. Her face was free of make-up, except a small amount of chap stick.
Looking at herself, she wondered if her father told Lacy she was blind. She didn't doubt it. Looking into her reflection, she knew Lacy would blanch when she saw her eyes. Hell, it seemed like everyone did the first time they saw her eyes. The unnatural light blue that had become her eye color was not something she had inherited from either parent. Her eyes had been brown at one point in her life. . .until that night when a drunk driver took the one thing that ever mattered to Jess away. . .
It didn't matter now. It was over and done with. No point in rehashing it now. She had light blue eyes, ghostly blue eyes, and that's the way it was, the way it had been for fifteen years. She didn't care what color her eyes were. She didn't see with them, so it didn't matter.
Turning away from the mirror, she adjusted her jeans and opened the door to her room and stepped out into the hall. Closing the door behind her, she smiled when she heard her father cursing like a sailor in the kitchen over his burnt something-or-other. So that was the smell. Dad never did have talent in the kitchen, she thought with a silent giggle.
Walking down the stairs, she listened as her father's voice grew louder and more pungent. Stepping into the kitchen, she saw her father leaning over a burnt roast and smiled. "Umm, smells great, Dad," she said sarcastically. She watched her father move to the sink and mumble something under his breath with subdued laughter. "Pardon?" She said, grinning at him.
"Nothin'," He said as he opened the window above the kitchen sink to let the smoke out of the room. The door bell rang startling them both. Jess turned toward the door in silent questioning. "That must be Lacy," her father said nervously. He dropped the hot pads that rested on his hands and rubbed his palms against the roughness of his Levi jeans. "She's early."
"Go get the door. I'll fix the roast." Jess said waving her hand toward the entrance hall, when another ring of the door bell sounded. Jim smiled at his daughter while moving toward the door.
"I hope this chick doesn't think she can treat me like a invalid." Jess mumbled to herself, as she began to pull off the burnt pieces of the roast and toss them into the open topped garbage can. She'd had enough of people treating her like that for the past eleven years.
"Hi, Jim!" Jess heard the loud squeaky voice of a female from the entry hall and winced. Her father dated this squeaking annoying sounding thing? Jess had a deep felt sympathy for her father and felt like screaming at the same time. If she had to put up with one meal with this woman, she'd better become a saint.