Mary Lou Ashley is 12 years old. She was given a miracle.
Mary Lou Ashley gets picked up from school at 3:15pm every school day. She waits in the parking lot, sitting on the curb, for her Uncle, Mike, to come by in his 1989 Ford.
She does well in school. She has few friends, but they’re good friends. They support her. They love her.
Regardless, today, Marie Lou Ashley waited on the curb for her father, her backpack a little less than half her size bending her spine like a bendy straw.
At 3:15pm Marie Lou Ashley heard the sound of her Uncle’s pick-up in the distance. Her face lit up. Uncle Mike stopped in front of Marie Lou Ashely. He gave a muffled smile through his thick beard. He had brown eyes that nearly shut when he smiled. They glowed always.
Uncle Mike motioned Marie Lou to get. Marie Lou didn’t hesitate. She pushed in the button on the car door and opened it. Her little legs has to stretch high to step in the pick-up. Finally, she made in. She took off her backpack and set it on her feet. The books, binders, and papers in her backpack pushed on her toes. She smiled a loud smile at Uncle Mike. His eyes nearly shut.
“How’d school go, Lou?” Uncle Mike said.
“It went good.” Marie Lou replied.
“You mean well, Marie Lou. School goes well, not good. ” he said. Uncle Mike looked over to her niece. He raised an eyebrow before glancing back on the road.
“You know what I meant!” she said.
Uncle Mike belly laughed. He put a hand on Marie Lou’s knee. She flinched. Uncle Mike took back his hand.
“Is dad home today?” Marie Lou asked.
“Yes.” he replied.
There were a couple bumps in the road. The two bobbed up and down.
“Can I go home with you?” she asked.
“Not yet, Marie Lou. The offices close at 4. And these things take time,” he said.
“I don’t want to live with dad anymore. The other day, he–”
“That’s enough, Marie Lou.”
The two got on the highway. Uncle Mike looked over to Marie Lou. His glowing eyes nearly shut. “Soon,” he said.
And soon enough they tried to merge onto the highway. They never did. There was a car that didn’t move over for Marie Lou Ashley and Uncle Mike. It hit their rear at 80mph. This caused the two to swerve onto the other lanes which resulted in a three car pile up.
The steering wheel broke Uncle Mike’s ribs in several spots. The shards of glass cut his face raw. He swallowed a couple of teeth, one of which was his incisor.
Marie Lou Ashley was granted a miracle. She came out of the crash relatively unscathed. Her rose cheeks purpled up. She had blood on her clothes. It came from her Uncle.
In the smoking, vehicular carnage, laid Marie Lou and her dying Uncle. He was choking on his incisor of all things. He heaved and gagged on the tooth. He took the steering at 3 and 9. He pushed his broken ribs into the steering wheel in attempt to give himself the hiemlich maneuver. Marie Lou could hear her Uncle’s ribs jostling around in his torso. Uncle Mike would howl in pain if the tooth would let him. Eventually, Uncle Mike stopped moving. His mouth opened wide. His eyes glowed always.
Marie Lou didn’t know what happened after that, really. There was a lot of screaming. Lot of blood. Lot of noise. Lot of people checkin on her. All she knows the paramedics on scene said it was a miracle she wasn’t touched.
A miracle indeed.
Marie Lou was sent home to her drunk father that beat her to a deeper purple. There was a lot of screaming that night. Lots of hands raised. Lots of noise. Lots of flinching. Lots fear. So there was on most nights after that.
Uncle Mike’s funeral was the following Wednesday.
A miracle indeed.