First on the Scene
I fly out as the first snowflakes begin to drift across the street, wanting to be first on the scene; I love the gentle kiss of the feather-like flakes on my hands and face, letting them melt on my tongue and blinking them rapidly off my eyelashes.
I hurry through the streets, heading towards the motorway, but avoid cutting through the park. Last month a young man fell through the ice into the lake there, cracked his head on the roots of some trees and eventually drowned in a few inches of icy water. Deep snow had hidden the edge between the walkway and the frozen water, so he didn’t realise he’d strayed onto the lake itself. I came on the scene shortly after it had happened, and I stayed with him till help came, but it was already too late for him. I feel my throat constrict at the memory of it, and try to push it out of my mind. He was a father to three girls, I understand. It must have been a nightmare for his wife, coming up to Christmas and all.
Approaching the motorway I can see the snow falling harder now, dancing diagonally in the light cast by the streetlamps. Visibility is poor and there’s not much traffic about tonight, which is a relief. Driving in snow can be really dangerous, especially for inexperienced motorists. And I’m one who should know.
I had an accident along here a few years back. It was a night much like tonight. I wasn’t accustomed to driving in snow, and although I wasn’t going very fast I somehow got into a skid. The back end of the car slid out, and the rest was like a dream, time standing still. The car spun lazily round and round, the steering completely unresponsive as I tried to avoid the trees lining the road here. Then there was the sound of crumpling steel and snapping branches before the car flipped over onto its roof. In the stillness that followed I heard the high-pitched whine of the engine as the wheels spun in the air, and the tinkling of falling glass. Then the engine cut out, and everything went quiet. I lay there listening to the gentle hiss of the snow falling on the underside of the car, warm blood trickling from my ear. No one came for ages – I felt so lost and alone.
So tonight, when I come across the taxi lying on its side, crushed against a wall I hurry over to the scene. The man lies half in, half out of his vehicle, blood pouring from a cut on his head, his face almost as white as the snow around him.
“Don’t panic,” I say, kneeling beside him to stroke his hand. “Everything will be fine.”
He moans, and I see that his gaze is fixed somewhere in the distance. He frowns, and I know he’s puzzling, wondering why there are no footprints in the deep snow behind me.
“I’m here for you,” I whisper in his ear.
“What did you say?” he moans.
“I said I’m here for you.”
He understands then.