Adam - Ben's House (pt.3)

I hear muffled voices. I lean up just enough for an explosive, yet, dull pain to shoot throughout my abdomen. My heart flexes in a few deep pumps as panic sets in. I remember being shot, phoning for help and leaving Anna a voicemail. How long have I been out? Where am I?

I take a moment to look around and realize I am alone stretched out in the back of a dark ambulance. The only light is from a far away streetlamp reaching through the windshield behind me. I still hear voices but can not make out what they are saying. They sound like an argument. My wounds have been wrapped up all around my stomach, but they are wet. Blood is seeping through the bandages. I feel weak. I hope I am at the hospital. I imagine a team of medical professionals assembling outside the vehicle.

The voices outside are getting louder, I can almost make out what they are saying. The back door of the ambulance opens. Bright light floods in from a different streetlight. As my eyes adjust I see a few children are standing in the opening. I am not at the hospital. My heart sank. I hear a woman from behind the door tell the children to get inside.

The children shuffle into the truck. They all look in a lost gaze. There are three, a little boy maybe around five or six, a young girl a few years older and a teenage boy. The youngest had stripes of tears running down both sides of his face. The girl is sitting against the wall tucking her head behind her knees. The oldest stood on the edge of the doorway with a defiant look about him. None of them seem abnormally affected by my presence.

The conversation outside the ambulance continues. ‘Shauna, come with us. You can not stay here.’ The tone sounded less like a suggestion and more like an order. ‘He’s not worth it and, from the little I know of what’s goin’ on, I doubt he’ll make it back to you anyways.’

I hear the other woman speak. She sounds much younger and her words are being sifted through tears. ‘He’ll come for me. I know he will.’

‘I can’t leave you like this. Come with me. Come with us. You’re my baby, I’ll keep you safe.’

‘Momma, those are my babies. I need you to keep them safe. I have to stay here. I’m sorry. I have to wait for Casey. I know he will come for me. He has to. He told me to stay here.’

‘It’s not safe, Shauna. Things are getting crazy out there! You don’t know what’s going on.’

‘You don’t even know what’s going on out there, you said so yourself. But, I believe you. I believe that something bad is happening right now. That’s why you’re taking my kids, but I have to stay and wait for him. He’d wait for me.’

‘You think so? Do you really think so? Shauna...if you think it’s smart to send your childr--’

‘Momma! ...just go.’

The back doors shut. We are in darkness. I hear a few more muffled exchanges between the two women as the children around me start to realize that their mother was not coming with them. The two youngest are no longer sobbing in silence. The driver’s door opens and a woman gets in as she is talking quietly to herself.

‘--that woman. God, she’s as stubborn as her father. I swear. I can’t belie--’

‘You promised!’ The teenager’s voice bolted from the back of the ambulance. ‘You lied, Grandma! You said you’d get her to come. You said she’d come with us!’ His voice quickly went from fury to flailing sadness.

‘She’s waiting for your father. She wants to make sure he’s safe.’

‘He’s not even my real father! He’s just some stupid guy.’

‘Shut up Marcus!’ The little boy chimed in. ‘My dad is not stupid! Mom’s gonna keep him safe. She said so.’

‘Mom’s gonna die.’

‘Marcus!’ The voice cut from the cab. ‘Everything is going to be okay. When we get to the hospital, we’ll be safe. Everyone just calm down. Edgar, your mommy and daddy will meet us at the hospital later, alright?’

Good, we are heading to the hospital. I clear my throat. The act sends ripples of pain across my body. I muster up some energy and quietly announce my presence. ‘Uh...hello.’

‘Oh lord.’ The lady reacts in a joyous and surprised manner while attempting to mask any excitement. ‘You’re alive!’

‘You’re shocked?’ I feel myself sink into an emotional vat of hopelessness and despair. I suddenly feel lonely. ‘Was I supposed to be dead?’

‘Oh, god, no. I didn’t want that. I’m just a little shocked that you are conscious. I didn’t mean it to come out like that. It’s just...’

‘Just what?’ I anxiously await the response.

‘Things are, well, it’s just. You know, sometimes.’ She stumbles over her words. ‘My job is to help you.’

My mind is still running laps trying to make sense of everything. I have so many questions. My eyes are heavy and my breathing is shallow. I might die back here, in this ambulance, in front of these strange children. I am finding it exhausting to speak. ‘Why are these kids here?’

‘We had to make a detour.’ Her voice carries justification with it.

‘These kids...’ I wince as I try to find a breath strong enough to hold words. ‘They are more important than my life?’

‘Probably not to you.’

I attempt to speak normally but my words are as soft as a whisper and occur only between small breaths. ‘Do you even care if I live?’

‘Of course! I am taking you to the hospital aren’t I?’

‘Then...why did you stop?’ I am finding it harder to breath.

‘The world is going batshit right now. I have my reasons. You should feel lucky I even responded to the call. A lot of people are abandoning their posts.’

I feel consciousness trickling out of my reach.

‘Marcus, I need you to do exactly what I say.’ The overhead lights flicker on in an overwhelming brightness. Everything becomes blurry. The words of the medic fade away along with my thoughts.


Anna - Night Alone

The door shut behind him. I am alone, again. I wanted him to stay, but I wanted him to want to stay. I want him to feel that way. I want him to realize that when we’re hanging with his friends, it is not us being together. I feel like an outcast around them. They haven’t accepted me. They probably never will. He thinks they have. I miss him every second he’s away. What am I thinking?

Was that a fight? Over a night for us? What if he were to ever find out about Kyle and I, his trusted friend. It was a mistake and it takes everything in my power for things not be awkward when we all do hang out. I am not sure that Kyle even remembers that night. Would Adam ever forgive me? I doubt it. He still brings up that time I called him a girl in front of his friends. I had no idea he was so sensitive.

I have been standing in the middle of the living room for almost ten minutes trying to talk myself into doing something productive and get over my frustration. I guess I will have a bath. So much for productive. I just need to take a minute to myself and collect my thoughts. I start to run the hot water. I need to rationalize my emotions. Maybe I was being too dramatic. Maybe a night with the boys would not be so bad, and, maybe, it would mean something to Adam if I did go. Not tonight. I just want to stay at home tonight and, if that is selfish, then I am selfish tonight.

As the tub fills I grab the book I have been reading, some cheesy romance novel where guys act like men and not little boys. I decide make myself some chocolate milk. My mind snaps back to earlier events. Who leaves in the middle of a fight anyway? ‘Fuck you, Adam!’ I take another deep breath and head back to the bathroom with the sound of my solitaire outburst still resonating in my head.

After undressing, I slid my leg into an almost unbearable, but relaxing, bath water. Well, he did do one thing right. These bath salts Adam had gotten me for a gift are already tingling throughout the one leg I have submerged in the water. This will hopefully be relaxing. I slowly sink into the bath and begin to chuckle at the irony of the same boy who frustrates me to no end is, somehow, actually making up for it with a present he had given me weeks ago.

I do care about him. I remember the first time I saw him. He looked like a total nerd, a cute nerd. He was in his raincoat, a plaid button-down and he was wearing glasses. I did not usually find guys in glasses attractive but the way he was wearing them gave him an approachable charm. They had a way of accenting his soft, brown eyes. I remember staring into them for the minutes leading up to our first kiss. His eyes had a way of making me feel safe. I now know that if I had not gone up to him, our paths would have never crossed. He is not really the go-getter type. I like that about him. Most of the time Adam takes in all around him in an analytical daze. He gets the details. That is how he gets me unlike any other guy I have dated.

The stress is already deteriorating into the shallow abyss of my bath tub. My anger transforming into how much I miss Adam already and how this night would have been better cuddled up on the couch watching television. I would have watched the game here with him, if that’s what he wanted.

Normally it is frightening when my mother likes the guy I am seeing. This time, however, it is comforting. Adam met my parents a lot sooner in the relationship than most and there was good reason. I grew attached to him faster than anyone before. He is thoughtful. When my children upset me, he reminds me why I became a teacher. He tells me about how no one can teach them overnight and that if they never got on my nerves, I wasn’t doing my job. When my sister and I get into a fight, he has a way to explain why we are both wrong without upsetting me. Boyfriends of the past always try to tell me I am right. I know I am not right all the time. I wish he could do that when we fight.

I know he cares about me. Why does he need to spend so much time with his friends? Sure, we spent the past couple nights together but he was at Ben’s every night last week. It would also be another thing if he didn’t drink to the point falling asleep on their couch more than he sleeps in my bed. I know he has his own place but if he can sleep there, he can sleep here with me. I feel like I am being irrational again, or am I? I think I will just read my book and try not to think about this anymore.