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A Million Lives

Which day of your life would you relive again and again

By Sam H ArnoldPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
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A Million Lives
Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

What if you were given the chance to live one moment in your life repeatedly? What would you choose?  Would it be your wedding day, the day your first child was born, or would it, like me, be the day you died?

By Olga Kononenko on Unsplash

Karen sat in the hard chair, struggling to get comfortable. She shifted her weight from one leg to another, but nothing alleviated the discomfort. The monitor on the bed beeped a steady rhythm.

She remembered that two days ago when she was brought into the room, all she wanted to hear was the bleeping as it meant Toni was still alive; now, she hated the sound of the monotonous tone. She hated the woman in the bed connected to the monitor but loved her with all her heart.

She spun around at the sound of the door opening behind her and looked into the blue eyes of her daughter, who tried to smile at her. Chloe cradled her left arm in her right hand. The plaster cast covered her tiny hand and ended after her elbow. A broken wrist, they had been told, would heal in six weeks. The emotional trauma would take much longer.

"How's mum?" The little girl asked.

"Same as before, honey. No change." She saw the little girl's eyes start to cloud with tears and reached out to grab her right hand, pulling her towards her until she sat on her knee. "I'm sorry, baby, but you know it could take a while for her to wake up. How is the arm anyway?"

"It's fine," came her daughter's quick reply.

"I'm sorry you got hurt."

"Wasn't your fault."

"No, it was," she went to answer before Chloe interrupted her.

"Wasn't mum's fault either."

Karen didn't trust her voice, so she said nothing and hugged her daughter close. No matter what Chloe said, Karen would blame Toni for hurting her child for the rest of her life. She then shivered when she realised it might not be long. How the hell was she meant to tell this little girl that the accident that broke her arm might also take her mum away?

They sat together, holding on to each other for the rest of the afternoon, staring at Toni in the bed. The monitors continued to bleep and whirl. Occasionally, a nurse would come into play with some dials and then leave again. They had stopped talking to Karen a while ago when they realised that nothing they said would make her forgive the woman in the bed. How could you love someone yet hate them at the same time?

It hadn't always been like this, but Karen was always telling Toni to drive carefully when the kids were in the car, and now one of them was hurt because of her actions.

After a couple of hours, her sister came to get Chloe; they hugged as she was taken home to spend time with her cousins. As much as Karen believed everything was Toni's fault, she couldn't leave her alone here.

This was the routine of their life for the next week.

By National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

It was Toni's eighth day laying there when the consultant came to speak to her. Toni had been declared brain dead all the tests had been completed. Karen was left with the decision of when to turn off the bleeping.

The rest of the week was a blur. She told the children and watched their heart breaking again. Chloe blamed herself even though everyone assured her it was complete rubbish.

Karen, who still hadn't cried for Toni, resented her daily for putting their children through this. After five days, the machine was switched off, and Karen watched Toni stop breathing and leave them all. She went home to rebuild her life with their children.

By Florencia Potter on Unsplash

The knock at the door brought Karen out of her daydream about the day she and Toni met. She threw the tea towel down onto the sink and went to answer it. Today was the kids' first return to school, and she was hoping for a quiet day.

As she opened the door, her heart sank. There stood with the same stupid look on his face was DC Stamp. "Can I come in?" He asked.

Karen stood aside, and he made his way into the kitchen. She considered making him a coffee but decided against it to discourage him from staying. Instead, she took the chair opposite him.

He cleared his throat in that annoying way men did; putting his hands together in front of him, he started, "As you know, Karen, we have been looking into your wife's accident."

All Karen could do was nod.

"Well, we have concluded our investigation now," he took a breath. "First, the driver of the lorry that your wife hit was drunk almost three times over the limit. He has been charged and will appear in court in six months."

"Go on," Karen said.

"We reviewed the CCTV, and there was nothing your wife could have done to avoid the accident. She was completely innocent."

Karen felt the anger disappear, and complete devastation replaced it. Tears fell down her face. PC Stamp reached across and put his hand on her arm. "She did nothing wrong," he said again.

"Thank you."

"Yes, well, there is no need for thank you. We were only doing our job. Are you going to be alright?"

Karen nodded. "Then I will be on my way," he said, getting up and tucking his chair in.

They walked to the door in silence; Karen held the door open for him, and as he was about to leave, he turned back to her, "Funny thing. When our experts looked at the footage, they said there was a one-in-a-million chance your daughter survived the accident. If your wife had turned the wheel any other way, your daughter would have been killed rather than just a broken arm."

By K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

It took me 897, 345 attempts. I died 897,345 times before I finally saved my daughter's life.

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About the Creator

Sam H Arnold

A writer obsessed with true crime, history and books. Find all my dedicated newsletters whether you are a true crime fan, bookworm or aspiring writer on Substack - https://substack.com/@samharnold

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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