The woman who hits you has glasses and a big ass and she bends over you asking you who you are, where you came from, what you were doing. And you apologize, you numb fuck. Apologize because you are a chump. You are a chump and this will not change; you are a chump at seventeen and you will be a chump at twenty-five, miles from home and in love! In love! In love! The world will scar you, mold you, break you down, and you will apologize for having been in its way.

You are considerably fucked up. By nine thirty in the a.m. you have been driven to S.F. General, laid out under burning French-fry lights, and bursting from your cut clothes like a belle on the cover of a bodice ripper. What is your name? What is your name? Do you know where you are?

You are so sorry, you say, and you are. You're sorry you ruined that big-assed woman's day, that you wedged yourself beneath her white Crown Victoria, that your blood is somehow outside of your body, staining white issued sheets printed with the hospital's name, stiff and smelling of Lysol. This is all a mistake, sure. Once it has been sorted out you'll get up, find your Walkman and backpack, and just hightail it on back to school.

Your mother is here, looking as though you've put twenty years on her in the last hour. Your father is here, too, but he wasn't allowed into the operating room because he was too hysterical. He drove your mother here, weeping so badly he had to pull the car over twice. Calm down, your mother told him. She said, if you crash this car I will leave you. We will divorce and I'll never speak to you again. She won't allow herself to cry until nearly two weeks after your accident, and even then it will be in the shower.

Your mother smiles and nods. She squeezes your foot, the only thing without a needle or tube invading it. She's a good girl, she says, to everyone, to the room. She's going to be an actress.

Pelvis shattered, broken in four places. Right wrist, ka-blooey. Left ankle, sigh-o-nara. Eight ribs cracked and splayed like fingers. Your surgeon's name is Carrion. Very nice. The man in charge of putting your broken body together is named after foul, rotting meat. You are beginning, through the caul of your shock and pain, to understand the black humor of the world, the funny because it's true and true because it's funny. You would laugh, but laughing is agony, so you nod, nod, nod, accepting.

Carrion squints at your X-rays, flinching. He is horrified, sure, but in a real gentrified way, the way that your mother is horrified at the price of cereal. He points out your ribs, the haphazard matchstick ruin of them. One of those should be in your heart, he says, nearly accusing. He is a surgeon, he appreciates things that follow a certain pattern — x+y=z — your unfortunate cheating of death is no cause for celebration, it's a blank spot on his ledger, a thing born with two heads and one heart, a medical oddity.

Your nurse is called Donita - very odd, a completely original name, and you comment on it. It sounds like something a kid would make up, you think, when naming a doll. She shrugs it off. She's named after both parents, she says, like a race horse. She's very muscular. She has a tattoo of Tinkerbelle on her right forearm; you see this when she rolls up her sleeves to turn you. You must be turned manually to prevent bedsores, and your broken pelvis makes this excruciating. Your vision goes white from pain, your lungs feel as though they are flooded with lye.

Count backwards, says Donita. Look here, she says. Her eyes are kind and miserable and you cannot look for long. You stare instead at Tinkerbelle. You think, take me, take me! You think, come to me and carry me away.

At night you dream of Tsunamis. You dream of this impenetrable skyscraper of water and the exposed ocean floor writhing with killer whales and great whites and giant squid and you wake to the sound of your own heart, a mechanical remix in blips and skips, and the sight of your mother fast asleep in a yellow pleather recliner. No one had ever loved you the way this woman loves you, and that's scary, too. Scarier than tsunamis and ribs in hearts and malicious Crown Victorias. She opens her eyes before you say her name, and she stares through the dark in your direction, seeing only you.

The big-assed glasses woman wants to visit you. She wants to tell you things - that she is sorry but not to blame, that life is complicated. That it's not so easy on her, either.

A lawyer wants to visit you, to tell you things. There's money here but not much. If you were more injured, he says. If your brain were damaged... If your face were scarred...

An artsy lady comes into your room with pastels and paper and asks you to draw how you are feeling.

Get lost, you say.

That's valid, she says.

You draw a vast green field and a patch of wild violets beneath a happy-face sun.

Beautiful, says the lady.

You point to the violet patch.

That's my grave, you say.

She sets down the drawing and starts to cry. You cover her hand with your own.

You nod, accepting. You will always be a chump.

fiction non-fiction poetry art sounds