The man slowly slides to a stop in front of our house. I notice him first, before Mommy does. His rusted sky blue truck is the same color as the house. It squeaks a rattled warning, and Mommy spins around. The truck is an old one, like the little models that Bubba has, only lots bigger.
I stare at the man. He looks like the kind of man the teacher tells you to stay away from when they talk about strangers. His hair is long and shaggy, a dark golden blonde that reminds me of a lion's mane. It wraps around his face the same way, and is made dark on his chin by the shadow of his nose.
My brother sits beside him in the truck. He holds a whitish rag, spotted red and grey, to his face, and his fierce green eyes are closed. I stand and run to the truck, Binki barking at my heels. Mommy is already near the truck.
The man steps down from the truck, and she stops a foot in front of him, her eyes sharp and demanding. Bubba does not move.
"Ma'am, your son flew off his bike." He points to the back of his truck, and the evil bike winks at me in the late summer sun. It got me once, on the wrist, with the teeth on its pedals. My mother nods but does not speak to him.
"J, put the dog in the back yard." I nod, and reach for the half Scottish Terrier-half mutt's collar, and drag him behind me. The reluctance in his black head is matched by the unwillingness in my golden one.
When I return to the front yard, Bubba is sitting on the ground, and the evil bike lays in the grass, waiting for another chance to strike. I sit beside my brother, and watch him out of the corner of my eye.
His skin is pale like bread dough, and I wonder if he will die. The rag against his forehead is a red, white, and grey banner of doom. I chew on my lip, and watch as the man nods at my mother and glances at where we sit before climbing back into his squeaky blue truck. It rumbles away, and Mommy watches it go for a moment before turning to Bubba.
She leans over him, and I watch her eyes.
"Robin," she calls. "Robin." He stirs and looks up at her, his eyes dull and flat. She picks him up, and I follow after them, through the house and into the garage and into the car.
Time stands still. I sit in the Emergency Room Waiting Area, looking into each white-coated person's face as they rush by me.
"Be good and stay here," Mommy had said. The look in her eyes had been full of Bubba's forehead, and I had not dared ask if he would live.
The sounds of the Emergency Room filter through to me, and each scream and cry of pain makes me ever more certain that one of the white coated people will come through and tell me that Bubba is dead. I chew my lip, too scared even to cry. A white-coated lady pats my head as she walks by, and I turn in my seat to stare after her. I want to ask her, Where is my brother, Bubba? The possible answer frightens me too much to speak. The crashing sound behind me spins me around, and I know.
Five white-coats rush through, guiding a rolling bed between them and shouting for people to get out of their way. The white of the sheets is pink and red, and I catch a glimpse of hair the color of mine as they pass me.
I am screaming before I realize it, and the white-coated lady and Mommy are suddenly there. I cling to her, and the white-coated lady asks what is wrong.
"Bubba!" The lady glances at Mommy.
"Her brother." Mommy takes my head in her hands and looks down into my overflowing eyes. "Dearheart, he'll be alright. Just a couple of stiches to hold his head together while it gets better." I look up at her in confusion, and look down the path of the five white-coated doctors.
"That wasn't him," the white-coat lady tells me. Her eyes flicker to Mommy. "Car accident." Mommy nods with an understanding I cannot quite grasp.
"Not Bubba," they both say.
"Not Bubba," I tell myself. In my world, all is well.