Dresden, Germany


I flew towards her.

Pale, wide eyed witnesses are standing on the footpath behind the parked tourist bus, hands on heads, letting their cigarettes fall heavily between their mouths and their feet, dully fizzing out. Others crouched down, as if to hold on tight, or they would fall off the world while it seemed to crawl underneath them. One girl had vomited.

The tour guide can be heard frantically appealing to the public, “Does anyone know first aid? Does anyone know first aid?” As the woman lay in the middle of the road, the sound of her uncontrolled limbs slapping the car roof still rung in everybody’s ears and the heavy THUD of her body hitting the ground had simultaneously struck the chests of all who watched the scene, leaving them unable to breathe.

“DON’T MOVE HER!” Barked a voice at an apprehensive couple who had got to her before me. “Everyone step back! Call an ambulance!” Ordered the voice again, the same voice that was coming from my mouth.

The European, sun drenched road, carved curly, pieces of skin and flesh out of knees while I got down to her. The right side of her body was visibly shattered from where the car had hit her and she was bleeding from cuts and grazes, but I noted that most of the damage was internal.

With the vulnerability of a small child, the woman peered up at me. I spoke sweetly and smiled, lowering my head to meet her frightened gaze, “Hello, my name’s Alicia, I’m a lifeguard in Melbourne and have extensive first aid training. What’s your name?” She promptly squawked, “Catherine,” before writhing in agony again like she had moments before.

“Catherine, I am going to do what is called the vice grip,” I said with clarity, “it is going to minimise any damage you might have done to your neck and spine.” She lay awkwardly on her side, with her limbs contorted and pale. Hovering over her, I place my right hand under her chin, holding it, with my forearm flush against her chest, between her breasts. My left hand cradled the back of her head and my forearm ran down her neck and upper spine, sandwiching her body between my arms, locking pieces of her in place. I held her tightly and asked about her family as she shrilled, begging me to make take her pain disappear.

This was not the Dresden I was supposed to know. The city had completely rebuilt itself after the Air Raid Bombings of World War 2. But once again, sirens can be heard not too far away. And vomit can be smelt in the stale, stagnant, summer air. And the new-old buildings loomed over us, casting deep shadows from the dying sun, drowning us all, in what was supposed to be good about this place

A Drew

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