NANCY had forgotten herself. She had not been counting. Her rhythm might not match his. She took her mouth from the tube and the sigh vacating his lungs spooked her. He was taking her breath.
In the gloom she could not discern colour, but his skin had darkened – her oxygen. She took cautious hope. Was his system taking her air on a mechanical level? Was he at best artificially alive?
Was he in fact brain dead?
Nancy decided she would continue to breathe into the tube until someone found the limo. She would do so all night if she had to. The cab swooned as she took a respite. Movement snagged the corner of her vision. Nancy didn’t understand what she had seen until she spotted the twitch. His pulse. She waited. His chest continued to descend before falling still. She dare not blink. Seconds became an eternity. And as she prepared her next breath, he took his own. She closed her eyes and lowered her head as though in prayer.
Her knees had stiffened in the chill. She planted her hands upon the seat beside him and her hair cascaded in clumpy festoons. Adrenaline burnout rendered her arms into rubber tubes. On her ponderous crawl, she observed how the fascia’s headway had rucked up Vince’s trousers. Within, his right kneecap had been pushed out of alignment with his thigh. His left knee had been compacted. For his sake, she hoped he wouldn’t regain consciousness in the cab.
Once clear, she straightened up and a weariness sank into her. She shuffled clockwise and planted her tailbone onto the seat next to Vince. She wedged the soles of her feet against the fascia, locked her knees and braced. A resistance likening a granite wall came to mind. Leon’s seat had been driven backwards and was likely bolted to a sliding mechanism.
She could keep trying but suspected all efforts would prove futile.
She could…she could keep warm by resting up against him. She could settle her head upon his chest and enclose them both beneath his overcoat.
If he came to, would he let her?
The Glebe Hollow inside her scoffed. She lifted his overcoat by the collar and spread it across his abdomen. Vince’s disdain had tempered to nonchalance. He lay perfectly still, his head rolled back, aloof, proud and once again, oblivious to her existence.
Without warning, all muscles tone evaporated from her shoulders. She keeled over and her nose rebounded against her thigh. The edges of her lips turned up in sickly glee at the limo’s greatest stunt. It had skidded in a great big fishtail on an overpass. It had then toppled off a bridge. Tears seeped into her dress. A long, long tumble. Long tumble down. Nancy’s thoughts were travelling at the speed of light and her physical self was trailing behind. The words in her head were ricocheting in nasty echoes and now she could see a weird granular landscape looming ahead.
In a flicker, Nancy found herself lying fetal on the floor and her skull was reverberating. She pushed against the carpet and looked up in a swoon. Fractures on the window pulsed in mother of pearl.
A cacophony pushed into her senses. A clash of sirens seared the air, strobes of electric blue bleached out the cab. Nancy clambered to the window which now exhibited a roil of luminous shapes. Her knees juddered beneath her. The screeches gave way to the hush of collective engines. She grasped the door handle and levered herself onto the seat. A measured rap turned her head. A misted face peered in from Vince’s side.
‘Can anyone hear me in there?’
Nancy gawped in a stupid trance. She could no more respond than Vince, who remained locked up within his slumber.
The figure, a female paramedic, retreated from the window.
Nancy’s door handle rattled. The woman had scuttled to Nancy’s side. Nancy wanted to tell her the door was jammed but everything within her closed up. Fluorescent stripes amassed at Nancy’s door. The handle rattled again. Nancy slipped Vince’s overcoat from his body and allowed the soft cashmere to swamp her form. Vince wouldn’t be needing it any longer.
‘Move away from the window,’ someone called out.
Nancy fastened the buttons misaligned. She stuffed her handbag into one of the front pockets. She donned her useless stilettos and removed her earrings. Her ropey hair tumbled over her vision. She felt like an animal gone feral.