Fighting Panic

It is an achingly beautiful day in downtown Richmond. A beautiful sky with a view of the Monroe Building.
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My office framed in blue.
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Some mums out by Vogue just one block from me.

This morning, I got up and spent a few minutes with my daughter. Not enough time; just a little. I didn’t say goodbye to my sleepy husband or kiss him goodbye. I was a few minutes behind because I stopped for coffee and to get some cash to pay for my parking space.

As I came off the interstate, 3 fire trucks and several police cars came flying past me. I made my way to my office and discovered there had been some kind of accident, so I called my boss to tell her there was an accident outside of our building and I would be there as soon as I could be.

As I got closer, I saw a bus. I looked for another vehicle and saw nothing. Well, something. I flash of gory reds and pinks, partially covered by a white sheet. I averted my eyes as my stomach balled up; my gut knew what I was looking at before it registered in my brain.

That was a person. On the ground. Under the bus. The police closed the intersection just as I got to the light. I was the first in the line. Right next to the body and the ambulance, where the paramedics were helping a visibly shaking bus driver into the ambulance. My heart went out to her.

I saw a co-worker standing across the street. I saw a high heeled shoe and a purse by the bus. I saw the café manager from my building standing and watching from the corner. I saw a lady break down into tears as she watched the scene. I remember holding my hand over my mouth. I remember wanting desperately to be away from there. It is funny what I remember and what I don’t. I would have sworn to you that her shoes were brown, but the TimesDispatch says they were black.

I did eventually drive through the intersection without being prompted by the police. Asshole that I am. I guess a little panic took over. I just had to get away from her body. It was 10 feet from me. It wasn’t completely covered. I was shaking and I couldn’t think, I couldn’t help them or her, and I couldn’t breathe; I just had to go away. Fight or flight took over, and with nothing to fight except my rebelling stomach, there was only one alternative.

Because I had called my boss to tell her of the accident, everyone in the office had gone to a window to see what they thought was a car accident. We had a perfect view of the intersection. Everyone knew what had happened by the time I got to the 10th floor. I could not join the crowd at the window. I couldn’t even think straight still. Three people offered me a Xanax and I declined each offer, though I sort of regret that now.

It looks innocent enough, this intersection, but I cannot get it out of my mind that a woman died here this morning.

I am going to go home a different route just to avoid driving over those paint marks that show the bus’s outline and the spot where I know the lady was under the left front tire. The woman was a state employee, like me, heading into work, same as me, and all my coworkers. She probably has a family, and left this morning probably thinking of work on her desk, or about an annoying coworker, or the budget cuts, or whatever. I am sure she didn’t think she wouldn’t be home this evening.

I cannot wait for this day to be over; to go home to what really matters. To hug my daughter, kiss my husband, and remember what really matters in life.
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PS: I have half a mitten to show you, but just not today, okay?

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