One Sunday, I noticed her up on the lifeguard stand, talking to a strange guy. He stood out to me at the time because he was all disheveled and wearing jeans in summer. At the pool. But aside from that, it was an ordinary Sunday -- bored housewives, screaming eight-year-olds, dads hoping somebody would notice they'd been working out in the garage.
I headed back to my house for a bit and then returned, plopping into my pool chair six feet from the lifeguard stand. Megan and the guy from earlier were still there, and now seemed to be arguing. Some kids started splashing in the pool, and when I heard two pops, I looked around, annoyed. I thought someone had lit firecrackers. Then I turned around and saw the lifeguard stand.
It wasn't firecrackers.
I'm recalling most of this through two decades of fog, but this part is seared into my mind: I noticed how clear the sky was, how intensely white the few clouds were, how it was hot but not muggy. I remember looking down as the disheveled guy collapsed, watching his blood flow out like tiny rivers snaking across the pavement. I squinted up at Megan, and saw red color the back of her hair; it started slowly, just a few drips running off her ponytail, but then began pulsing out.
One guy in the pool was staring incredulously while casually wading. A little girl jumped out of the pool, pointed, and screamed "Mommy!" Me, I just stood there watching. And then, when chaos started to erupt, I didn't take charge or rush to Megan's side. I fled. And on the way home, I vomited on the side of the road.
I did come back, with my mother, in time to see policemen and paramedics at the scene. Both the disheveled guy -- his name was Keith Chambers -- and Megan were alive at first. I consider myself kind of Christian, so I'm ashamed to admit it felt good to see that they ignored him so they could work on her. He died quickly, but she lingered on, brain dead, for about a week.
The movies don't really show the part where you spend a week waiting for a miracle that isn't coming.