Today was one of the few days that I did not have to work. Because of this, I slept in late and awoke only to the early afternoon sunlight beaming in through the window curtains. My toes were the first to touch the ground as the length of my bare legs slid out from under the covers. A yawn escaped my throat when I stretched my limbs.
I smacked my tongue against the roof of my mouth a couple of times before realizing that I had a terrible taste in my mouth. In only a white tank top and a pair of underwear, I rose from the bed to enter the living room. Zhea was on the couch watching television. Upon noticing me, she instantly spoke, “Hey, Mylo! I have a question…”
“Yeah?” I said as I entered the kitchen. I opened the cabinet where we kept the cereals and examined the boxes to find that we were out of Fruity Pebbles.
She turned around on the couch and leaned her chest against the back. “Can I have a cellphone?”
I grasped a box of Frosted Flakes, shook it, and then peered inside to find enough present for a decent bowl. “A cellphone? What do you need one of those for?”
“I want to talk to this guy that I met at McDonald’s yesterday!” was her answer.
I opened a cabinet to find a bowl. “That’s why we have a house phone,” I said, plopping the bowl down on the counter to pour the cereal.
“But you can’t text on a house phone!” she argued.
After pouring the cereal, I approached the fridge and opened it. My spirit dropped to the soles of my feet. My first stage was denial, and I searched frantically for it. Next, the spirit rose from my feet to my head to create a state of anger. “WHERE IS THE FUCKING MILK!?” I shouted. “I FUCKING TELL YOU GUYS TO KEEP A BACK UP! IF WE GET LOW ON ONE, GET ANOTHER!”
Zhea seemed unaffected by my spout of anger, as she did with most things, “I think that’s where Ritz went.”
I slammed the door to the refrigerator shut in annoyance. “Well, if he’s got the car, then we can’t go get you one of those cell phone things.”
“That’s what’s weird,” she said. “The car is still here. His friend picked him up.”
I sighed. “Then he's probably getting drugs, not milk. That’s fine. I guess I can drive us to the grocery store. We can pick up some milk, and I’ll take you to the cellphone place around the corner.”
This was one of the only times that I had ever witnessed her express happiness. Whoever this boy was, he must’ve made her happy. And if I was helping to make her happy, it made me happy. I reentered my room to put a pair of blue jeans before grabbing the car keys off the dresser.
It wasn’t the safest thing for me to be driving. I didn’t have a license or permit to drive, but I had driven a handful of times without it. A few of the times I had messed up, doing things such as backing into our mailbox or slamming on breaks to avoid hitting a squirrel.
“Put your seatbelt on, please,” I said as we situated ourselves in the vehicle. I turned the key into the ignition, and the engine roared in response.
“How come I have to, but you don’t?” she complained, buckling herself.
“I’m the driver. I have to be comfortable. You don’t.” I put the car in “drive” and pressed on the gas. The initial upstart was rough, as I had applied too much pressure too soon. Eventually, we began to cruise along at a normal, steady speed. My stops were as rough as my starts. A weird feeling entered into the pit of my stomach, and I contributed it to the fact that Ritz was most likely in danger. I pushed the issue into the back of my mind.
“So, is the guy cute? I mean, for working at McDonald’s?” I asked after we had been cruising along the highway for at least eight minutes.
An involuntary smile appeared on her face, and I could tell that she was trying to hold it back. It made me smile, as well. “Well, I think he’s cute. He’s not really your type, so I don’t think you’d like him.” I fell into a left turning lane and awaited a green arrow. There were a couple of cars ahead of me, so the wait for the arrow was not a long one.
“My type?” My eyebrow perked at this. “I have a type?” The light changed, and my upstart was smoother this time.
Her formerly oppressed smile was now allowed. “You know, trashy, useless.” Another traffic light shown in the distant, the light very visibly green.
A chuckle bolted like lightning from my throat. “You’re right! I never noticed that before!” My laughter continued as we approached the traffic light. I reached up to wipe my growing tears from my eyes. As I did, I noticed a horrified look on Zhea’s face. Time slowed down.
I had been shot, stabbed, strangled, and knocked unconscious, but time had never moved so slowly before. It happened in five seconds. I turned to the window at my left to see what caused her expression. The grill of an extremely large truck met my sight. It was at least three feet away. At the time, I was not sure who had run the red light. The only coherent thought I could produce was that I had to protect Zhea.
Since I had not decided to wear a seatbelt, I was able to stretch the length of my body over into the passenger seat and wrap my arms around her as the driver’s seat caved in from the impact. Glass shattered and rained around us. I felt the shards pierce my skin, and I gripped Zhea’s body tighter. I wasn’t going to lose her, not my only friend.
The walls of the vehicle caved in on us, and I felt my legs become crushed by the collision. The airbags deployed almost instantly, jolting me in my already frail state. Blood began to seep from my arms and onto Zhea’s lap. In five seconds, this had happened.
No sound was audible due to the searing pain in my legs. I could not hear Zhea’s screams or even mine, for that matter. The agony continued to cultivate until I could no longer handle its immensity. I felt a familiar darkness take hold of me and suddenly the pain wasn’t so terrible. My eyelids rocked back and forth between consciousness.
From outside of Zhea’s window, a face peered in at me. Long, dark locks blurred in with the ivory tone of their skin. “He…,” the syllable forced its way out of my bleeding throat. The last thing I noticed before slipping into darkness was the bright blue of their eyes that matched mine.