This one started to get away from me a little. I had intended for the beginning to be much shorter, then get on with the rest of the story, but apparently I was wrong in thinking that. It just kept building. This story will have at least one more part. We shall see. I hope you enjoy the beginning! Let me know.
In high school, I had a rebellious streak. I liked to see what I could get away with. There was a thrill in knowing someone could remember me as the last person in a room where something was stolen, or that someone might walk around the corner before I was finished with my can of spray paint. I tried to keep it minor, and low-key.
In college, that started to change. I messed with people’s computers when they walked away to grab a drink, deleted assignments. I walked into random dorm rooms that were naively left unlocked. I took things, sometimes trying to make it unnoticeable, and other times I destroyed the entire room. Quietly, of course.
The thrill grew, but the accompanying fear grew faster. The fear turned itself into anger, and anger turned to carelessness. Rumors started to spread. I felt eyes linger on me as I walked passed. I kept my head down.
Then, I opened the wrong door.
I can’t remember what happened after that door opened. Just an angry face, but my mind threw out the details. The next thing I remember was pain.
A lot of pain.
I was lying in a gutter. I didn’t know where I was. But everything hurt. I moaned, and tried to move. It didn’t work. I tried to slow my breathing and take stock of where I felt the most pain, and single out the areas that didn’t feel too bad. I started to move my fingers and toes, and was finding a bit of success. I had a feeling one of my fingers was broken, but at that point, it seemed the least of my worries. I couldn’t get a deep breath. Probably some broken ribs. I had taken some poundings over the years, but never like this. I rotated my feet to test my ankles and legs. The had taken it easy there, it seemed. I lifted a hand to my face, but it didn’t move. I tried the other one. That worked. My eyes were both swollen, which made me realize I hadn’t even thought to try opening them. My nose was crusty, and also swollen. Broken. My lips were fat, but mostly on the left side. Probably from some solid right jabs. I ran my tongue around my teeth, and didn’t feel any missing. At that moment in time, that felt like a victory. A small one, but a victory nonetheless. I felt some blood around my temples and in my hair. My face was just about what I expected.
Finally, I tried opening my eyes. One lid didn’t really move. The other lifted just enough to get a blurry line of sight through my lashes. The view cleared slightly when I blinked a few times, but I couldn’t really make anything out. I shut my eye again.
I went back to the arm that wouldn’t move. I opened and closed my hand. Then I bent my wrist back and forth. That felt a little odd, but I could do it. I tried bending at the elbow again, and I thought that my arm moved a little. That was progress. I took a break and tried to just breathe, which was still difficult.
Just as I was about to start working on my arm again, I heard footsteps.
I stopped trying to move. I kept my eyes shut.
The footsteps got louder, more defined. There was a muted sound just before every other step. A cane, maybe. The steps vibrated in my head as they got louder. Louder meant closer. Really not good.
The steps stopped.
“That looks like it hurts.” His voice was clear, and somehow… dark. If my body would have allowed it, I would have shivered. Instead, I tried to lie as still as possible, hoping he would think I was dead, or at least beyond help.
It didn’t work.
“I can hear the whistle of your punctured lung. I know you’re breathing, though I would imagine it hurts like the Devil.” He laughed a bit at that, like we had an inside joke going that wasn’t really all that funny.
I tried to swallow. I think I drooled instead, but it was hard to tell.
I opened what was, at the moment, a poor example of a ‘good’ eye. I tried to turn my head in the direction of the man. A moan escaped. My breathing was getting more shallow. I needed to try to relax, the thought of which almost made me try to laugh. I coughed on blood and phlegm instead.
He squatted down near my head, his cane resting across his lap. I could sort of see him, but I couldn’t make out any specific features. Just impressions.
“Would you like some help with the pain?” I couldn’t have described it, but I didn’t like the way he smiled as he said it. But the pain overruled any thoughts of distrust.
I nodded. Sort of.
“Is it only a little painful?” I managed to turn my head side to side, just a little. “Excruciating?” I nodded. “Bad enough that you would do anything for just a little relief?” I paused a moment, then nodded. A tear leaked out.
“Perfect. I believe I can help you.” He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out an envelope. From that he pulled a sheet of paper. He unfolded it. He looked at me, mouth open, ready to read what was written on it. “Would you prefer I skip the reading and just have you sign? It will speed things along so I can help with the pain.” He tilted his head, waiting for me to indicate my wishes. All I could think about was the pain. I nodded.
“Wonderful.” He reached into his other coat pocket and pulled out a pen. “I’ll help you. This pen needs to be held just the right way. Which hand are we using?” I moved the fingers of my left hand. I didn’t think my right could hold anything yet. He nodded when he saw the movement, then moved to place the paper under my hand. He adjusted it before carefully placing the pen in my hand. I felt a quick pain in my thumb, but I assumed it was just pain from using a hand that didn’t want to be used, and it wasn’t even close to the scale of the rest the pain I was feeling. I did my best to write with the wrong hand, hoping my name was at least somewhat legible.
I let out a breath as soon as it was done. That small amount of movement had drained the last of my energy. My brain was moving slower and I was having trouble thinking. My eye closed and my fingers dropped, letting go of the pen. I vaguely felt the man shift, then he placed his hand on my forehead.
(to be continued…)
Any guesses on what happens next?
Thanks for reading, everyone!