Hold On!

The soft strains of piano music drifted lazily through the small convertible. Through the tinted windows, two teens were visible; both looked completely maxed out.
“Hey Jonesy, stay awake for me man. I know I’m driving and all, but I do not want to have to drag your sleeping carcass up thirteen flights of stairs to your apartment!” She yawned “If Read it and Weep has one more school nightly concert, Mom is gonna fry me alive.”
Jonesy looked across at her, sarcasm lighting up his tired eyes “Well, I could always stay at your place” He trailed off, wagging his eyebrows like a villain in vaudeville “But you are right, Mandie; Psycho promised The Moms no performances on school nights.”
She growled at him, rolling her eyes as she spoke. “First off, his name is Simon Cohn, not Psycho. Secondly, the only way you’re staying at my place is on pain of death.” Mandie paused “You’re just gonna sleep through Bio anyway, so why complain?!”
“Ooh, struck a nerve, did I? So it’s Simon now, not Psycho? You came up with the name originally! Methinks you like him, Mandie.” Jonesy grinned wickedly at her, watching her color up through the streetlights passing by. “And as for Bio, well, yeah. Have I ever stayed awake for an entire lecture from the Nutty Professor? Nah, old monotone could knock out even the most caffeinated, sugar-high ADHD kid.” He looked into Mandie’s dark chocolate eyes; they swirled ominously with her painfully sharp caustic wit.
“Well honey,” she began in a sugary voice “I wouldn’t antagonize me if I were you; after all, I’m the one with a car. If you continue to do so, I’ll drop you at the next bus stop.” Mandie was as serious as a heart attack; she had done that once before, and left him with his guitar as well. Jonesy shuddered at the memory of that bus ride. He’d had to wait an hour in the pouring rain because he’d offended Mandie. It was Jonesy’s turn to growl, knowing he was powerless against her threat.
As the cherry red convertible rounded a corner, a pair of high beams became visible through the blinding darkness; as the lights got closer, Mandie was able to make out a small silver Mercedes shooting like a bullet from the barrel of a gun. Seconds later, she realized that it was in the wrong lane. They were in the line of fire. She wrenched the wheel to the left in an attempt to save both their lives and her beloved car.
The protesting moan of metal being ripped from its supports. The sharp crack of braking glass. A faint tinkling of a shattered headlight. The sickening crunch of bone snapping. The sounds of terror violently ripped the peaceful night to a thousand pieces. Smashing it like a broken mirror. Although it lasted only seconds, to Mandie and Jonesy, it felt like an eternity.
With a groan, she looked around for her friend, and when she couldn’t see him, Mandie panicked. She half fell out of the door in her attempt to free herself; staggering around to the other side of her once beautiful car, she surveyed what was left of two summer’s worth of work and baby-sitting money. Something distinctly silver caught her eye, and upon looking up, she saw a twisted wreck of silver Mercedes was wrapped around a tree by the side of the road like some grotesque piece of jewelry. She could not see the driver, in fact, Mandie couldn’t see the strands of coffee-colored hair drifting across her face. She crossed to the passenger side of the car, eyes trying to make out the slumped form of her best friend. A terrible sight confronted her as her eyes adjusted to the oppressive blackness surrounding them.
“Jonesy! Jonesy! Hold on! We’re gonna be okay! Hold on, man! Hold on!” with a groan, he barely managed to sit upright. “Can I stay at your place now? ‘Cause you said on pain of death, and this had better count.” A ghost of sarcasm haunted his amber eyes, relieving Mandie of a minute quantity of fear. His eyelid flickered, threatening to close. Darkness was coming; pain was being banished by cooling wave. He wanted nothing more than to let go and stop fighting the weight of hurt pressing down.
As he was about to let go, something very hot and wet landed on his cheek. Curiosity overruled the desire to let go, and he forced open his leaden eyelids.
He was watching a river carve a path down a mountain; something so pure and simple was wearing away ages of stone. He had never seen something as terrible as the sight before his eyes. In fact, were it not for the tear on his cheek, he wouldn’t have believed it at all. Mandie was crying, sobbing like a child. This scared him more than the entire wreck they were in. “I’m here, Mandie. I’m holding on.” Jonesy gasped out the words “Mandie, I will hold on.” He could see the faint silvery traces of the water flowing freely down her face as she dialed with shaking hands “H-h-hello, I need to report an a-a-accident….” What seemed like hours later, he looked up at Mandie. She wasn’t crying anymore, and in the red glare of the ambulance’s lights, saw the resolution of someone who could get through anything. But they both knew that it was just a mask, a façade hiding her panic from the world.
“I’ll hold on.”





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