The floor is still lava, even when she’s gone

Every minuscule inhale I muster through includes a shooting pain like glass rattling up my lungs. Every tiny exhale allows that glass to fall back from where it came from.

My head is throbbing as if inside of a bass drum. The only thing I can move is my eyeballs and the small amount of moving in the chest that comes with breathing—and even that hurts.

The ambulance reaches our car.

As the paramedics open the driver side door, a tear rolls down my cheek.

I watch them check her pulse as my door opens. I watch them as they confirm what I already knew.

Scarlet is officially dead.

The paramedics on my side pick up my wrist and stare at their watches. Their questions to me only evokes the most minute head nod; I don’t dare to open my mouth for fear of what might escape me.

Scarlet is dead. Tears are streaming one by one down my face now. I feel the pain from moving my body, but I can’t tell if the physical or emotional pain hurts more.

Scarlet will never teach the eager college students she always wanted to inspire. She will never live in that house on 2nd street. She will never get married. She will never have a baby. She will never finish school.

Scarlet is never coming back.

My temperature, pulse, and respiratory rate have all been checked. They move on to my arm. Putting the cool stethoscope against my arm shoots pain right at that spot.

I glance at the ground. It’s still lava. Through all of the craziness and sadness, it slipped my mind. The ground is still lava, and it is starting to seem normal.

I am transferred cautiously to the stretcher and into the ambulance. They keep moving around me, and I obey them and answer their questions. I even start to squeak out verbal answers through the lump in my throat and the glass in my lungs.

My mind isn’t in the ambulance though. It isn’t inspecting the lights above my head and analyzing the words of the paramedics trying to keep me alive. My mind is back in the Altima, waiting for Scarlet to breathe again.

The drumming in my head and lightning bolts in my body increase with the blaring siren in front of me, and the physical pain yanks me back into the vehicle.

The speeding of the ambulance slows to a stop, and the doors opens. They prepare the ramp, and they roll me down and into the hospital.

My eyes bounce around the hallway as they take me towards the testing rooms—my vitals seem okay enough, and they have nothing they can see that needs immediate surgery. While they bounce around, they mainly see the stark white walls, but they always end up looking at the floor. The gurgling orange lava strikes out at me against the white walls of the hospital.

As I was being prepped for the CT scans and the x-rays and whatever other tests they had planned for me, memories flooded my head. The time I broke my foot while Scarlet and I were climbing trees to fulfill our child instincts. The time she broke her arm running into a wall when we were racing each other. Even the time when I was little—before I met Scarlet—when I tripped over my shoelace, fell hard to the ground without catching myself and got a concussion.

My previous times at the hospital, I was surrounded by people I loved. Now, I am encircled by doctors and nurses in green scrubs. I am hundreds of miles away from my family, and my recent hospital buddy—where the trips always started and ended with laughing—didn’t make it to the hospital this time.

They tested all they could, and the lightning bolts reduced slightly. It turns out, however, I have to go to surgery. I have to be put under and trust these people in green lab coats. In order to survive, I need to take the risk of dying.

I am rolled to the surgery room.

They put me under as my mind is racing.


Where do I go when I’m under?


The lava is going to burn these surgeons.


I’m not sleepy at all.


These pillows are squishy.


What if I don’t wake up.


I wonder if Scarlet knew how much she inspired me.

To be continued.