Her mother’s accusations sliced through her misery like a surgeon’s blade. She leaped down the last two steps of the staircase listening to the charges behind her, “You killed him! You killed him!”

There were no streamers wrapped around the rails of the banister, or balloons scattering when she whisked through the foyer. There was no evidence of wadded gift paper, bows, or ribbon. There weren’t sixteen candles with icing licked dry from the ends, not even a Happy Birthday banner with her name, Eden, scrawled across.

She grabbed car keys from the entry table and tugged the vault heavy door with both hands. Needles of chills stabbed through her thin cotton shorts and t-shirt when she flew onto the porch of the brownstone into the rain-washed San Franciscan evening.

Fear whistled through her veins as she stumbled onto the narrow brick path. Eden’s emotional state stung worse that the scrapes on her knees. With unforgiving determination, she sprung to her feet and whipped open the squeaky iron gate. The shrill of her mother’s persistent cries neared, “You killed him! You killed him!”

Eden sprinted around her father’s restored Corvette parked alongside the curb. She glanced across the street and noticed the silhouette of a hooded person and canvas covered shopping cart under a dim lit lamp post. It was the same man who for years had peered up at her through her third story bedroom window.

“Come back here you demon!” her mother screamed.

Eden brushed the wet strands of hair off her face and climbed into the car. Her mother stood in the glow of the doorway, screaming and waving gestures. The Corvette ignited into life. Before rocketing into the night, she took one last glance at the man under the lamppost. She hoped to feel one last ray of hope from him as she had had on many occasions before. But there was nothing.

She white knuckled the steering wheel, putting her weight on the gas pedal. Rubber spun through the water until gripping the asphalt and sling-shooting into action. Standing in the middle of the street through the rearview mirror, her mother’s fiery red hair and scorching words drowned in the faded distance. “You killed him! You killed…!”

The Corvette whipped and weaved down the neighborhood street, nearly colliding with parked cars along the curb. She haggled with the steering wheel while searching for the elusive windshield wiper knob. The rapid movement of the speedometer diverted her attention. Forty…fifty…sixty.

Had years of abuse driven her to kill her father? I couldn’t have done it, she thought. She tried recalling the event, but everything was a blur. “Slow down,” a calm voice whispered. She cranked her head to the empty passenger seat. The familiar disembodied voice warned again, “Slow down, Eden.”

Ridden with terror, she yelled. “Who’s there? Who is that?” She swept spilled hair from her tearstained face as sheets of water distorted her vision through the windshield.

The floorboard shuddered from the watery beating from beneath the car. Water lapped the sides of the Corvette. It had been transformed into a mythical menacing creature cutting through the sky with its wings spread wide.

Attempting to focus, she perched her chin over the top of the steering wheel. Up ahead, an obscure red traffic light grew larger as she neared. She thought about her little sister. Why did I leave her there? She thrust her weight into the brake pedal and cranked the wheel. I’m coming Sissy, she yelled.

The three-hundred and seventy horse powered Corvette spun like an out of control twister in Kansas. Revolution after revolution. A period of darkness, then the red light. Black. Red. Black. Red.

She turned the wheel as far as it would go, but the car proved relentless as it hydroplaned over the tsunami of water and into the intersection. There was nothing Eden could do when she heard the steady blast of a horn coming from an uncertain direction. Two beams of light cascaded toward her. The visual spectacle of red, black, white added to her spectacle making her nauseous.

Like the slow motion of her sixteen years, so was the impact of the two cars. Eden’s face dissolved into a contorted grimace when she heard the crunching and twisting of metal. Her head jerked forward as she was catapulted from her seat. Like a rag doll, her body flew over the steering wheel, crashing through the windshield. Dime-sized shards of glass cut through her young tender skin as her body knifed through the torrential rain storm.

There were no flashes of memories racing through her mind. There wasn’t a bright light shining down to lift and carry her away. The only object she noticed was the red traffic light staring down at her as she soared through the air.