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a real Habsburger

published: 2012-03-15

The first spring day. An 18-year-old girl on a bike. She has dark skin, jet-black curly hair that shines and bounces as her bike leaps over bumps. She is sending someone a text message. Her iPhone is in a case which has hearts on it. She is smiling.

Then she is hit by a car. It was turning right. It didn’t see her. She didn’t see it. Her bike disappears beneath the car. Her head hits a sign. The car hits that same sign, but not her head.

People who are sitting outside drinking lattes run to her. Women mainly. Men sit there gawkyeyed. The women are all wearing big sunglasses and speak to her. What is your name, they ask. And: are you okay? When she doesn’t immediatley answer they ask the same questions, but louder. One woman helps her sit up, while another says the girl should stay flat. The girl is now speaking. And shaking. She thinks her leg hurts. She thinks her arm hurts. She thinks her head hurts. She isn’t quite sure. Well lay down, be still, we’ll call an ambulance. You’ll be all right, they say. You really will.
The girl looks at her iPhone and then says she’s worried about her laptop on the back of her bike.
There is a man standing there too, quietly, next to his car. He is eighty years old. He is Japanese. His hair is combed back. His eyes are yellowish. He has bruises on his lip and hands, but not from the crash. He too is shaking.

Does nobody see the man?

He is confused. After a while, he asks one of the ladies whether it is etiquette in our country to shake the girl’s hand. To say he is sorry. That woman ignores him, she is too busy talking to the police.
Has anyone mentioned the girl was texting someone?

The man’s car engine is still on. His door is smashed. When the medics arrive, they ask the girl to step into the ambulance. Recently, a woman was hit by a motorcycle. She fell on the back of her head. She seemed perfecty fine but died in the hospital from brain hamorrhage. Better to be safe than sorry.
The girl’s friends have now arrived. She is surrounded by the care of teens. They giggle nervously. Just look at her bike! It’s all dented! That must have been a big fall.
The man talks quietly to the police. Have they ever seen a real Habsburger? he asks. He shows them a picture of his daughter with a Habsbuger. A real Habsburger! When the police leave he calls a taxi. He tells the taxi-driver he isn’t feeling so well. He is far away from home.

That night, he dies of a brain hamoraage.

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