JULY 2006

> THE YOUNG GIRL | mike smith

People used to ask me how I liked being married. That stopped a long time ago. I like to think about it, though. Driving down Eastern Parkway at 3:00 in the morning was not unfamiliar to me. You get used to not having any streetlights in a certain stretch. All I saw was a big black object in the middle of the road. Slowing down, I realized it was an overturned car.

Since there were no cops around, I figured maybe they had already come and gone and they just hadn't cleaned the mess up yet. Creeping closer, I saw a body sprawled outside the car. It was a young girl. She was on her stomach and her hair was covering her face.

I wasn't thinking too clearly to begin with. I pulled over and called 911, for the first time in my life. It took them about five or six times to pick up. It was a guy. He said simply, "911." I got out and reported exactly what I saw. The young girl was barely breathing. I pulled some of her hair back and realized that her face was completely covered in blood and glass. She was trying to say something, but I couldn't make out what. I think I said something too, but I don't remember what now. It was Derby Night. Plenty of people were drunk. She may have been one of us.

This girl's wallet was thrown into somebody's yard. It took twenty minutes for the first cop to show up and another five after that for an ambulance to arrive. Sitting there, with this girl's life in my hands, I didn't think about much. I wanted to, but I couldn't. My emotions are tricky now. They are on a delay.

After I spoke to the police, I continued my drive home. I thought about whether or not that girl survived the ambulance ride. I thought about where they were taking her. I wish I'd looked at her name on her driver's license. I wish I could have heard what she was trying to say to me.

I got home and climbed into bed with my wife. The delay was over. I told her what happened. And we hugged. And I said, "I hope she's alright." And these are the things I think about when I think about marriage.

> BIOGRAPHY | about the author

Mike Smith has worn lots of shoes.