“Are you okay?”
Kassandra blinked hard a few times, trying to chase the buzz out of her head. “Yeah. I think so, I mean, I’m fine.”
“Don’t move too fast. Wiggle your fingers and toes first.”
She followed the instructions coming from a voice somewhere behind her head on the pavement. The bicycle that had crashed into her (or had she crashed into it? The details of the event were already slippery, remembering felt like holding jell-o in a fist) was on the sidewalk near her feet, one wheel up in the air, spinning. Kassandra wiggled her toes and fingers and they wiggled back, reassuringly, waving at her from their places on the sidewalk.
“Good. That’s good. Now gently, really gently, bend your legs and arms.”
“Does anything hurt?”
Kassandra had to laugh. “Everything hurts,” she said, with a little gasp.
“You might have had the wind knocked out of you. I’m most worried about your noggin, though. Can you sit up?”
Noggin? Kassandra didn’t know anyone who used words like that. Especially not in an emergency. She rolled onto her side, remembering in a vague way that her old yoga teacher used to have them do that first, after several minutes in the corpse pose, before sitting up. Probably to stabilize our blood pressure, Kassandra pondered, nothing to do with the potential for head injuries. But it sill seemed like good advice. And rolling onto her side hadn’t been so bad, except that there were a few pebbles under her thigh now, and what felt like a boulder poking her ribs.
“Ow,” she said.
“Okay,” the instructional voice went on. “That’s good. No blood or anything on the pavement.”
Kassandra closed her eyes. What would “or anything” be? Her brains? But closing her eyes prompted a wave of dizziness, so she opened them again. “I need to get off this rock,” she said.
“Here.” She pointed to where the rock was poking her ribcage. “Help me up off of it.”
“Okay, But easy. I’m going to put my arms under yours and steady you as you come up.” An arm slipped between the ground and her side near her armpit, another inserted itself under the arm on top of her body. “On three. One, two, three.”
Kassandra lifted herself as she swung her legs forward in an awkward attempt to sit up. Immediately she was glad the instruction-person was positioned behind her, as she leaned heavily backwards. “Ouch,” she said again.
“That’s good. Lean on me. You doing okay?”
She was about to reassure the instruction-person that she was going to be fine when her vision filled with flashing red lights. An ambulance pulled up.
The emergency medical technician who jumped down to examine her might have been the handsomest man Kassandra had ever seen. “Ma’am, can you tell me what happened?” The EMT crouched in front of her. His smile filled with white teeth flashed brighter than the vehicle’s emergency lights.
“Ouch.” Kassandra drew in a breath to formulate her answer, only to be met with a stabbing pain.
“Okay,” the EMT said. “How about you, man? You see the accident?”
“I caused it,” said the instruction-person holding Kassandra up.