A newspaper slapped the door and landed on the porch with the normal thud. Elaine turned her bike around and headed down the driveway in the cool early morning toward the next house. Thud—the next newspaper landed squarely where she threw it. She had a saddlebag over her, the front was half full of newspapers and the back had yet to be emptied, weighing heavily on her.
Elaine had gotten the newspaper route five months ago to earn some extra money and she had saved up enough for the iPod touch she had been wanting. She was also planning to do some shoveling once the snow started to fall. At the moment she was finding great joy in the crisp late fall air. There was no snow on the ground yet, but the smell of winter was abundant.
Looking toward the next house, she failed to see the skateboard ramp that a child had left along the sidewalk, and her bike’s front tire caught the lip on the side of the ramp. Elaine was thrust over the handlebars so fast she didn’t have time to think. She put her hand out to catch her fall but landed hard on her shoulder and her head slammed into the ramp. Despite the protection of her helmet, Elaine’s vision began to blur and she could feel herself losing consciousness. Just before she passed out, she saw a woman walking toward her in a long dress or nightgown. The woman had long dark hair and reached out for her just as Elaine’s vision filled with white and she went unconscious.
As awareness returned, Elaine heard sirens in the distance. Slowly, she opened her eyes and saw a man looking down at her; there was a bright light on the ceiling above. She tried to sit up and look around but couldn’t move her head. She held up her right arm, then her left. Missing from her left arm was the charm bracelet that her mother had given her for her fifth birthday.
“Don’t move. We have your head stabilized for the trip. You’re in an ambulance,” the man said.
Suddenly Elaine’s head hurt badly and a tear rolled down her cheek.
“Do you know what happened?” he asked.
“Yeah. A woman . . . No,” she replied groggily.
“What’s your name?” the man asked.
“Elaine. My name is Elaine. Who are you?” she asked.
“My name is Mark. I’m an EMT. We’re taking you to the hospital. Do you know what day it is?”
“Yeah it’s . . . Tuesday.”
“Good. And the date?” Mark asked.
“December eighth, I think.”
“Good. Just rest.”
“The woman—who was she?”
“I don’t know about a woman. A man called 911. He saw you lying on the ground outside his house.”
Elaine was taken to the hospital where a few tests were performed and the doctor decided he wanted to monitor her for the day. As she lay, drifting in and out of sleep, her parents sat by her side. They only stepping out at three that afternoon to get a bite to eat downstairs.
Lying there, once again Elaine drifted off to sleep but awoke suddenly to a rustling noise. She opened her eyes to see the woman in a plain white dress she had seen earlier at the accident. She was stepping around the corner of her hospital room door, leaving. Elaine looked down at her bed and noticed her charm bracelet in her closed hand; the same bracelet that had fallen off during her bike accident.
A few seconds later her parents walked through the door. “Who was that?” Elaine asked.
“Who was who? Your father and I have been out in the hall for a few minutes by the nurse station. We didn’t see anyone,” Her mother replied.
“A woman. She was wearing a long dress—she just left.”
“Sweetie, no one has come or gone from your room in the last few minutes that we’ve seen.”
Elaine looked down again at the golden bracelet in her hand. A new charm now hung among the others on the delicate chain—a small heart, the side of which looked like an angel’s wing.