Maggie panted, feeling her lungs burn the way they did back before she got used to running. It had been two years since she’d put in a serious effort and she hadn’t planned ahead, not mapping the course, wearing her Fitbit or even stretching beforehand. She just caught the feel of Spring dancing in the city breeze and suddenly felt as she had well before the accident, her blood awakening like the budding season whispering for her to go. It was different now, obviously. Just walking on plastic was difficult enough some days, so running required a flood of determination she could feel rippling from her skin like solar flares. Maggie didn’t take it easy; she’d practiced enough to know how this worked, and by the time she decided to head into the park, the trees folding into each other above her like the interlocking fingers of pensive doctors with bad news, she’d gained a good head of steam. She did stay on the even paths, however, letting the root-ruptured, snaking tangents of yesterday slither off in her periphery even as she recalled how those were her training ground for Tough Mudders and triathlons. Maggie used to worry about breaking her ankle while tackling those risky trails. Such worry had been a luxury.
Ahead she spied a shattered glass bottle glimmering like spilled jewels caught in the sun. Someone had missed the trashcan and a constellation dotted the pavement. It reminded her of the pool of glass she’d seen on the highway that night, not simply a collection of stars, but a splayed galaxy reaching from the left shoulder into her lane. Not wanting to run over it, she’d swerved right. In the right lane, an old man in a classic boat of a Buick veered left to avoid another piece of roadside debris. According to the police report, it was a long section of a bumper mistakenly not cleared from a recent accident. The Buick slammed into the rear passenger side of her boxy Honda CR-V and the steering wheel suddenly jerked to the right in her hands. Her car rolled and the windshield joined the roadway firmament while she flinched, not seeing the jersey barrier loom ahead before nearly dissecting her entire vehicle. (Continued in next comment…)