“Noah! Levantarse ya!” Lena pulls the blanket off of me as fast as she can. I can tell she’s also not happy about Rose being moved to the earlier preschool start, but Rose isn’t going to get there on her own.
I flop onto my back and rub my eyes, the cool morning air biting my bare arms. When I open my eyes, they take a moment to focus on Lena’s face above me. She has an amused smile on her face, her navy blue blazer crisp and clean.
“Lena, cinco minutos más!” I groan, as I hear the pit-pat of little feet running into the room. Lena laughs as she picks up Rose from the floor, and puts her in the bed next to me.
“Daddy!” she giggles, and gives me a kiss on my forehead. I push myself up into sitting position, and she laughs as I pick her up. Lena watches as Rose is lifted into the air, then brought back down as I plant a kiss on Rose’s cheek.
“Hey, Rosy,” I say softly. “Are you ready for school?”
“Yes!” she smiles, pumping both small fists in the air. “I’m ready!”
I glance at Lena, who quickly taps her wrist. I need to hurry if I want to get to work on time. Giving Rose one more kiss, I hand her to Lena. “I’ll see you later ok, Rosy?” I say as I stand up.
“Ok,” she smiles, and Lena gives me a quick peck on the cheek.
“I’ll see you downstairs,” she says before taking Rose out of the room. I yawn, before shuffling to the bathroom.
The last step on the stairs creaks briefly as I put my weight on it. I step off into the kitchen, almost tripping over a stuffed toy Rose had left. Grabbing onto the wall to steady myself, I bring my eyes up to Lena, who is clearly trying not to laugh.
“Shut up,” I mumble, as I pick up the toy and place it onto the counter. She bites her lip and turns to face Rose, who’s trying to eat her breakfast. I say trying because half of the croissant has somehow made its way all over the floor and her face.
“Ro, you got your breakfast everywhere!” Lena exclaims in an overly sweet voice. “You made a mess!” She kneels down in front of her, Rose squishing the poor half-croissant in her fist.
“Uh oh!” she squeals. Lena laughs, and kisses her forehead. I come up behind her and pick her up. She laughs.
“You’re really messy, huh?” I laugh. She takes a bite of the squished croissant. I give her to Lena, before grabbing the peanut butter and jelly sandwich she left on the counter for me. I take my keys from the key rack, and double check my phone is in my pocket. Now I just need…
“My laptop bag!” I mutter to myself. “Where did I leave that thing-”
Lena hands it to me, Rose grabbing her lunch bag.
“I got Rose’s pickup today, alright?” Lena calls from the sink.
“Ro!” Lena calls. Rose’s attention is caught and she comes running.
“You’re going to school with Daddy today ok?”
“Yay!” She throws her hands up in the air then comes running to me, hugging my leg.
“C’mon, we don’t want to be late!” I peel her off of my leg and into my arms, give Lena a kiss, and grab my bag before heading out the door.
I push open the garage door, before putting Rose on the ground. “Are you ready to go?”
I reach out to push the button to open the garage door, but stop. “I wanna push it!” Rose demands from my feet. I pick her up again so she can reach the button. She hits it with the palm of her hand triumphantly.
“You did it!” I cheer, as I put her back down, and grab her hand. “Time for you to get to school.”
Rose skips beside me as I unlock the Honda door, and open the back for her. I pick her up and secure her in her carseat, before climbing into the driver seat.
“Listo para ir?” I ask her, watching her smile from the mirror. She nods her head. As the engine starts, she claps her hands.
“Let go!” she gets out between giggles. I turn out of the driveway and into the street, beginning the short drive to Rose’s preschool.
The radio is tuned onto a news channel. Tony the weatherman gives his daily report; sunny and hot as expected in May. It switches to Bill, who begins to give the traffic report, and then-
I twist the key out from the car, and the radio powers down. I check my phone quickly and see the time. 7:55. Right on time.
I unbuckle Rose from her seat, and help her out of the car.
“I like the car,” she mumbles as she jumps onto the concrete. I smile, and grab her lunch from beside her. She takes it with one hand, and grabs my hand with the other.
We walk to the front of her school, and I begin to look for her teacher. Rose sees her before me.
“Miss. Tiffany’s right over there!” she jumps up and down, again and again, pulling on my hand. “Let go!” Rose grips my hand tighter, and begins to pull me toward the swings, where her teacher is standing.
“Okay! Okay, I’m coming,” I say, following behind her. She eventually lets go of my hand and runs to her teacher.
I hear her say hello, and wave to me.
“Bye bye!” she calls. I laugh. She wouldn’t let go of me the first day I dropped her off, but now she’s eager to go to school.
I smile, and wave back to her. She turns to run off and play, and I turn to head to work.
Turning the key again, the car engine hums to life. The radio begins to play again, skipping over Tony and Bill, and going to Claire and Andrew with the news.
I listen mindlessly as I turn onto the street, before I hear a headline that catches my attention.
“A deadly car crash took place today at 7:55am, involving two individuals, on Snake Canyon Road. Police suspect it was a DUI, but no details have been confirmed yet. A woman was severely injured in the crash, her identity currently not confirmed by the police. Now onto the President who...”
Snake Canyon Road? I take a deep breath. The observatory is up there. Where I’m headed now. I turn a corner, and start climbing the hill, up Snake Canyon Road.
Then I see it. A white Honda was being swallowed by a grey Chevy pickup truck. The front of the Honda is completely bent in, the Chevy almost inside of the car. Glass littered the ground, sparkling in the morning light like diamonds.
The bright yellow police tape cut the road in half, and an officer directed me to the left side of the road, on the cliff’s edge. This crash was a horrifying sight to see. I shiver, then push harder on the gas, almost at the observatory.
Bill drones on and on about the traffic over the bridge until Claire comes back as I park. And delivers news that makes me almost choke on the air in my lungs.
“We have just received further details on the crash on Snake Canyon Road. The driver of a grey Chevy pickup had been texting and driving when he hit a white Honda head on, giving the woman inside serious cuts and broken bones to her arms, chest, and legs. Her skull had also managed to contract a hairline fracture. It’s a miracle she’s still alive. Andrew has the name of the victim, and further details.”
“Yes, thank you Claire. Her name is Sitara Esparza, and she is 34 years old. She lives in here, in San Luis. Now, onto an upcoming storm…”
Sitara Esparza. She’s still here.