Never Been Kissed(8)

By: C.M Kars



Shouldering my way through the lobby doors while attempting to keep all my grocery bags looped around hands, fingers and wrists, I’m now waiting for the elevator doors to close. I’m thinking about what I’m going to make for supper, mentally tallying what I bought in my head and deducting from my paycheck I’ll get next week. Anything to distract myself from the biting pain the plastic is causing, cutting into palms and fingers. I refuse to put them down at my feet. That’s admitting weakness.

I finally get to my door, totally screaming in my head to hurry up and get the door unlocked, when movement out of the corner of my eye makes me freeze and turn my head.

Hunter’s on his ass, back to the strip of wall separating our apartments, breathing hard like he sprinted up several flights of stairs. Something’s definitely not right. He doesn’t look good at all. I’m more than scared. The ostrich part of my brain just wants me to run away, lock my door and pretend he’s fine. The rest of me is wondering if this is a trick, and he’s going to stab me with a syringe loaded with a cocktail of drugs able to knock out Free Willy.

What decides me is the way he doesn’t look at me, doesn’t even look like he’s aware that I exist. I don’t know what trip he’s on, but it’s not hard to figure out it’s a bad one. His hands are holding onto each other like they’re the only thing he believes is real. His chest pumps up and down as he drags in air. As I get closer, I see little streams of sweat cascade down the sides of his face. The look in his eyes has me dropping my groceries and stuffing my hand in my purse to find my phone. I kneel down in between his spread legs, wondering what I should do, ignoring how much I now want to throw up. Call 9-1-1? Or get him back to his apartment? There’s a kid to think about, too, not just Hunter.

My heart’s beating hard enough, and my stomach’s twisting itself into a roller coaster. I’m panicking right along with him.

“Hunter? It’s Sera, remember?” His baby blues come at me, connect with me. He looks at me like I’m his salvation. It hurts my heart, the look on his face. He lunges to grab my free hand, squeezing it between the both of his. God, he’s shaking so much. His eyes are pin-balling in his sockets, searching my face, the hallway around me, everything. “Hunter, look at me? Do you need an ambulance?”

He’s watching my mouth move and I don’t know if he’s heard me. His face crumples, the mask of calm collapsing, features now twisted into a suffering I can’t understand.

“I’m calling an ambulance. You need help.” I palm my phone, ready dial.

“No,” he moans, squeezing my hand harder.

I swallow hard. “You need help. If you pass out, I can’t carry you anywhere.”

“No ambulances. You can take me to the hospital,” he pants, eyes glued to mine. Each word costs him, like they suck the small reserve of energy he has left.

Fuck. “Where are your keys?” Instead of waiting for him to answer, I start rifling through his pockets with shaking hands. His hoodie has empty candy wrappers and some loose change. The jeans have receipts and some cash.

“I need you to stand up for me, Hunter. You need to stand up, okay? C’mon, on three.” I think he knows I’m his last hope. He gets his feet under him, and uses the wall as leverage to get himself vertical. This is bravery, not necessarily waving a light-saber in front of a dark enemy. I swallow past the pain in my throat, and continue my search for his keys. Ass pockets don’t have anything, until I look at his door. He’s left them in the lock. “Is your boy in there?” Hunter’s tilted his head back and closed his eyes, breath slowing down. “Listen to me, asshole, is your kid inside?”

He struggles to focus on me, head loose on his neck. “Yesssssssss.”

I put both arms around his waist. “We’re gonna shuffle closer to your door. All you need to do is move to your left, slowly, ok? Baby steps. Let’s go.” I shuffle with him, trying as best as I can to keep his weight centered or leaning back on the wall. If he falls on me, we’re both screwed.

Blood pounds at my temples, and my throat’s dry. I’m not really sure how I’m talking, or even ordering him around. I’m not sure of much, but I do know we’re in serious trouble if we stop.

“Almost there. Almost. Two more steps, I promise.” I coax, keeping my voice calm. God, what is wrong with him? He’s too big, I’m going to drop him. I don’t have superhuman strength to get him to the hospital on my own.

Bile rises hot up my throat, but I swallow it down, letting it burn my stomach. We make it to the edge of his door. I stretch out my arm and pray for Reed Richards-like abilities – nope, no help at all. I dash forward, twist the key and get the door open with a flick of my wrist on the knob. I jump back to where Hunter has started to sag away from the door. Bending my knees, I haul him back to center.

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