The yellow cab was gliding over the street, wheels screeching, locked in a moment that extended between the before (when everything was in its place and understood) and the after (which is unwanted, painful; a time when everything is misplaced).
Sophia was still running towards her children. She couldn’t run fast enough — there was not enough time left to her. The words she shouted were trapped on her tongue and her lips, in her mouth and her throat: “Stand up! Stand up!” They could not be spoken fast enough, loud enough; her feet were clumsy, felt entombed in rubber; they managed a few steps (too slow, too slow) but then the moment was past.
Becky was pulling at Gabriel to help him to his feet, but a twelve year old is only so strong and a fourteen year old that much heavier. The car was almost on them. Even if she’d had her adult strength, what could she have done? Gabriel will ask her this again and again, and mean it as a reassurance.
Becky won’t always understand it that way.
In the distance, beneath the screeching and hooting, someone was shouting, “Stand—” And in that moment (which was between the before and the after) Becky knew that she was neither strong nor quick enough.
But she was holding her brother. And the car was gliding, beautiful, a gull on the breeze.