She had never seen a dead person before. He lay slumped against the steering wheel, facing out the passengers side window. Shards of glass twinkled in the blood as it trickled from tiny gashes in his forehead.
The accident, now seconds old, was not more than fifteen feet from the front porch on which she sat, tiny fingers wrapped around a chunk of yellow sidewalk chalk. She wore a ruffled brown skirt and blue T, the bottom of her legs tattooed with curves of chalk dust. At the sound of the crash, she had looked up from the yellow squiggle she had scratched onto the porch, her dark brown curls bouncing as they resettled over shadowy eyes.
Releasing the chalk, she scooted to the end of the porch and hopped onto the walkway, lifting her bare feet to shake the pebbles from the azalea bed out of her soles. She wanted to get closer to the man. All she could see was his face, expressionless and streaked with blood.
People were always crashing into her front lawn. Her mother had told her this was due to the bad combination of a sharp curve and a hidden side street. The accidents usually claimed no lives save those of her family's mailbox and driveway reflectors, but this man had driven headlong into a large dogwood, now in full bloom.
She abandoned the walkway and padded through the grass, still damp from the morning dew. She reached the green Jeep, stretching on tiptoe to reach the door handle. Yanking hard, she managed to pull open the passenger door but landed on her hands and bottom. Tilting her head slightly, she stared the man.
He seemed a lot larger from her seat on the damp grass than he had from the porch, his bright blue eyes staring blankly back at her. His lower half took up most of the driver's seat, and his chest encompassed the steering wheel, but he was not a fat man. There were no rolls of blubber hugging the waist of his jeans, only a large body filling his side of the Jeep. The blood, sparkling with glass, streamed between one eye and his nose, more across the other eye, and several down his cheeks. More dripped from the steering wheel, coming possibly from his temple, landing on his thighs.
She watched the blood drip, unconcerned with the screaming and haste behind her.
"Melany! Oh my God! Mel!"
Her mother's soft, strong arms lifted her, cradling her. She was redirected to breathe into her mother's broad shoulder. The sight of the accident now taken from her, Melany listened to her mother purring soothing words, the steam hissing from the Jeep, her father speaking loudly, giving the operator on the phone their address, but she could still see the man, his expressionless, blood-streaked face, glazed blue eyes.
It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.