Chapter One - Save Me.
The snow crunched under my heeled shoes as I carefully walked away from the building. It was a cold night, and dark, too, but the bitter winds still seemed more bearable compared to the packed club inside. Outside, there was no one in sight, with the exception of a group of darkly dressed people smoking beside the door.
That was when I saw him from the corner of my eye – just his shadow, at first. He was kneeling down on the ground, his back pressed to the side wall of the club. I thought it was strange, for him to sit when there was a thick layer of snow on the ground. That was when I fully turned my head and realised what he was doing.
I had never ran so fast in my life – let alone in heels – than when I spotted the tub of pills he was shakily bringing to his mouth. It didn’t take a genius to realise that this amount of pills could kill. I ended up almost skidding onto my knees as I stumbled to a stop beside him and pushed the tub out of his hand, sending the contents across the icy ground, to be hidden beneath the snow somewhere, hopefully for good.
It was then that I noticed the tears on the boy’s face, and the removal of the pills made him even more upset, as he ended up bursting into tears and making a groaning noise as soon as he realised what I had done. He tilted his head back and looked up at the sky, tears streaming down his face. I reached a hand up to my own face and felt a drop on my cheek. This boy had almost thrown his entire life away, and no one was going to stop him.
I wrapped my arms around this stranger and held him close, rocking him back and forth to calm him down.
“Listen to me,” I said firmly, though my voice almost cracked as I continued. “You’re okay. You are okay, and you will be okay. I promise.” He pulled away from my arms and I let him go, though all he did was put his hands to his face and close his eyes. His breathing started to become heavy, as I he was concentrating on something.
He opened his eyes again after a minute or so, and looked right at me. I’ve tried to describe that moment to others since, but no one really understood. It seemed to last forever, yet ended too soon. It seemed like an amazing moment, but the emotion in the eyes showed the heartbreak he had been through. His brown eyes stared into my green eyes, and as soon as I blinked he crashed his lips to mine.
It took me a moment to realise what was going on, but as soon as I did, I wrapped my arms around his neck. He placed a firm hand on my back, pushing me closer to him. This was another unexplainable event that night, though I had never really tried to go into too much detail with this. It was both the best and worst kiss I had ever experienced, both for the same reason. As he kissed me, I could almost feel the emotion behind it. There was gratitude and relief, but on top of that there was frustration and sorrow. And then, he let go. We didn’t say anything – just sat there in this seemingly infinite moment.
He was the first one to break the silence.
“My name is Daniel, by the way,” he told me, his eyes locked on the snowy floor that was now littered with my footprints.
“Elaine,” I replied quietly. I had a sudden urge to reach out my hand and brush back the piece of dark brown hair that had fallen over his face, but resisted. A few seconds later, however, he reached up his own hand and moved it into place.
It was a simple movement, but it was then that his sleeve slipped down his arm to reveal the scars on his arms, one or two of which were clearly fresh. I don’t know why it surprised me so much. Maybe it was that I was hanging onto the hope that he hadn’t been trying to commit suicide, and this just confirmed it for me.
He seemed to notice what I was looking at, as he hurriedly tugged his sleeve back up.
“What’s wrong?” I asked him, my voice barely a whisper. He shook his head.
“Then why do you do this to yourself?” I wiped away a stray tear from my cheek.
He paused for a moment, and I realised how intrusive my question was – after all, I barely knew Daniel. He soon seemed to come up with the right answer, as he opened his mouth and replied, “Nothing’s right, either.”
I sat there, unsure how to respond, until he wiped the last of his tears and stood up.
“Can I get a lift?” he asked me, reaching a hand out to help me to my feet. “I wasn’t expecting to have to return home tonight… or- never mind.” My stomach filled with butterflies as he said this. I wondered how he would have finished the sentence. Or ‘hoping to’? Or ‘ever again’?
I placed my palm in his, my skin looking sickly pale compared to his tanned arms. He must have been on holiday recently, as there was no way someone could have developed a tan in this weather, and his accent indicated that he was clearly British. He pulled me to my feet and I started to lead him to my car, brushing the snow off of my shorts as I walked. My eyes glanced over at Daniel a couple of times, and each time he was looking at his shoes, as if willing them to walk, or making sure he didn’t step in a puddle.
He climbed in the passenger seat beside me, and told me the directions to his flat. He spent most of the time wringing his hands, and I wondered if that was a nervous habit, or if he just felt awkward. At least, those were the two situations I started to wring my hands in.
I parked outside his flat, and he started to get out, but I quickly placed a hand on his arm. He flinched, and I realised that my hand must feel freezing against his bare arm.
“Sorry,” I said quickly, before continuing. “I was just going to say… um, it was nice meeting you and… umm, well, if you wanted my number…” A small smile appeared on the corners of Daniel’s lips, the first smile I had seen him make. It was strangely beautiful.
“That would be great,” he told me. I nodded, blushing, before opening the dashboard in front of the passenger seat and rooting through it for some sort of writing device.
“Stop that,” Daniel said, humour in his voice. I turned to look at him, and realized how close we were. I stopped breathing when I looked at him, as if my breath would disrupt him, and quickly pulled back.
“Just come inside, that way I can add your number straight to my contacts list.” My eyes lit up for a moment.
“Really? Okay, if you’re sure… okay,” I stammered, blushing. Daniel chuckled lightly before getting out of the car. He closed the door behind him. It was hard to believe that this was the same person who was crying outside of a club half an hour ago. It made me wonder who was the real Daniel, or if they were just two different versions of the same person.
I followed him out of the car and locked it behind me before hurrying up the steps to the building. He stopped me right outside the door.
“Oh, and Elaine?” he added, as if he had just remembered something. “Thank you.”