I gaze at the face blankly staring past my own. I am frozen, fear consuming me. I didn’t see her coming.
She looks about eight years old.
Passers-by gather, forming an outer circle, as if by approaching they will become complicit in my crime. Minutes pass like hours before a woman, probably in her 40s or 50s strides over.
‘What’s happened here?’ she asks.
I try to answer but my teeth are chattering. My entire body quivers and shakes.
‘Honey, you’re in shock. Take my jacket,’ she says, pulling her arms out and wrapping her coat around me. ‘Have you called the police?’
A man walks up to us, holding a blanket. ‘Here,’ he says, his voice gruff and croaky. ‘Throw this on. Come and sit.’ He offers a camping chair that he’s placed on the kerb.
‘Good idea,’ the woman agrees. ‘You need to sit down.’
Sirens wail nearby. Within seconds, a police car pulls up and an ambulance glides in behind it. The ambos go straight to the girl. Another bystander had been looking after her; I overhear him tell the ambos she has a pulse.
‘Morning.’ It’s a police officer, a woman. She’s talking to me and the other two with me.
‘Good morning,’ says the woman. ‘I’m Cathy. I stopped to help. And this is…’ she nods her head to the guy.
‘Oh, I’m Barry.’
The police officer, whose name badge reads Constable Emma Pullman, ponders the scene. Her eyes take everything in. She looks at me.
‘And your name?’ she asks.
‘Eve.’ My teeth have finally stopped chattering.
‘Can you tell me what happened?’
‘Didn’t see her.’ I gulp back sobs. ‘She came from nowhere. On her bike.’ I glance frantically around the area for her bicycle. There it is, crumpled on the footpath. Almost unrecognisable. The damage inflicted by me.
‘Take some deep breaths,’ says Cathy, rubbing my back.
‘Any witnesses?’ Emma asks. This is directed more to Cathy and Barry than me.
I am surprised when Barry confirms to Emma he saw the whole accident unfold. The girl on the bike was riding too fast, too wonky. She couldn’t slow herself down. Barry tried to catch the handlebars as she sped past him. He turned, calling for the girl to drag her feet along the ground. Terror took hold of him when he realised the young girl wasn’t able to stop at the intersection. Barry collapsed in despair as he saw her crash into my car and get knocked from her bike.
‘I thought she was dead,’ he mumbles to close his account.
As if on cue, the ambulance drives off, sirens screeching.
‘She’s alive. Serious injuries, but stable,’ Emma says to us. ‘I’m going to need statements from all of you, please.’ She looks at me. ‘And Eve, I will have to get you to take a breathaliser test, for drugs and alcohol. We can do that here, in the police car. Following that, you’ll have to come with me to the station. Is there anyone you’d like to call? For support?’
I shake my head. No. I don’t want anyone to know what I’ve done.