Tonya felt her skull pinch. But why?
What was she doing? A second ago…
In front of her was an airbag with blood splattered down to the bottom edges. Tonya’s lower lip was warm, soft. Something salty was pooling in front of her teeth. She leaned her head back, trying to straighten her throat because when she tried to breathe through her nose it smelled like a burned battery. As she felt her hair press against the head support, liquid ran down her throat and into her stomach.
She remembered the taste quickly enough.
It was only a few months on the job. She didn’t make the handcuffs tight enough. The suspect slipped through. One punch…
After, he’d gotten away.
Tonya felt her seatbelt holding her back, cutting into her breast and her ribcage with each desperate breath. Her hand fumbled to find the release. In front of her, blood collected along the lower seam of the airbag in big, pregnant bulges, each releasing in its own time, splatting between her feet.
Tonya noticed she wasn’t in uniform. She remembered she wasn’t a cop anymore.
Her door opened. White light blinded her left eye. “Are you okay?”
Tonya looked around the inside of the car. She was the only one in there.
“Ma’am, are you okay?” the person holding her door open asked. Sunlight still blasted through the open door. Tonya clumsily dropped her left foot out of the car and onto the asphalt. “Ma’am, you should stay in your car. Someone is calling 911 now.”
Tonya stumbled out of the car and into the street, broken glass cutting into her left palm as she broke her fall.
“Ma’am, you need to–” the man stopped.
“Jesus Christ,” Tonya heard someone further back say. The crowd gasped. Tonya felt the space around her grow. “Someone call the police,” she heard the woman command.
Tonya turned her head back and saw the car hood buried in her engine. She realized she was standing in the middle of an intersection. Everyone was.
“Ma’am, maybe you should you put the gun down.”
Tonya noticed the weight in her hand. She was holding her Glock 22. She knew she’d never draw her weapon without reason.
Down the road, past the intersection now filling with onlookers and cars navigating around the accident. Down the road, she sees a red sedan growing small between the tall buidlings. Too far to makeout any details.
Good thing she already committed to memory everything she needed while chasing the sedan down the highway at ninety miles an hour.
License plate 4GHL892. Chrysler Lebaron.
Dead break light.
Tonya’s daughter watching from the backseat.