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Nice Girls Suffer Worst
With an abusive father and a distracted mother, she guessed she always knew she was on her own. “I learned not to ask for much,” she told me once. “And to bite my tongue,” she laughed.
“You know, you deserved a whole lot more than any of this,” I told her as she was sprawled across the floor.
Her eyes were weak, barely open, but she laughed and tried to make it sound genuine. It didn’t; it was frail, pained. But she tried, she always tried. “And the antelope deserved to prance.”
“As opposed to –?”
“Getting devoured by lions, of course. Don’t you get it? I’m the antelope. Life, the lion – roar.”
Even then, lying in a pool of her own blood, waiting for an ambulance to come, she didn’t pity herself. Nor did she let me pity her, as much as I wished she would. Just this once. Her pale face, her broken, gray eyes. Dry, parted lips. “You don’t have to make light of this, you know,” I told her, “I won’t tell anyone if you show a little weakness here.”
“You’re practically begging me,” inhale. “To feel sorry for myself,” exhale. “And I don’t.”
“No, I’m begging you to admit that this shouldn’t’ve happened; not to you.”
“Whether it should or shouldn’t have, it did, okay, Malikai?” I didn’t mean to upset her. “It happened, and I can’t do anything about it. Why wish otherwise, as if that would do s***? Why wish my dad wasn’t a cokehead, alcoholic prick with a violent streak? Or that my mom gave a damn? I mean, it is what it is, Kai – not what it should be. And honestly, the sooner people realize that, the better off they’re bound to be.”
She was stubborn and she was a realist, and she was draining out all over the concrete floor of her basement. I wished not to argue with her. Instead, I held her hand. Kissed her forehead. Sat with her a while, praying to every god I could think of that she would be alright, that she would make it.
“I hear the ambulance; they’re almost here,” I said, startling her.
“I’m wounded, not deaf,” she smiled as she closed her eyes. That smile. Weak as it was, it was still beautiful, still warm. Somehow.
They came in, the paramedics. Got her on the stretcher, asked her how she was. “Bloody,” she replied, “real, real bloody and awful tired.”
“You’re going to be just fine,” the man assured her, fastening her in. “You’re going to be alright.” I glared at him, hoping for his sake more than hers that this wasn’t another empty promise for her to face. I continued to hold her hand; she continued to breathe, slowly but steadily, making sure it took note of it, gazing into my eyes as a sign of assurance to me that she would make it. I must’ve been a mess; the girl seemed to be more worried about me than she was herself.
“Thank you,” she whispered to me as we pulled into the hospital. “Thank you so much, Kai.” Tears in her dull eyes, she squeezed my hand gently and smiled. I wanted to ask her, What for? But it goes without saying that it wasn’t the time nor the place to make her explain herself; so instead, I simply smiled back at her.
They got her out, brought her inside immediately. Made me stay in the waiting room for hours upon hours that felt like days – upon years. I tried to keep myself busy, tapping my foot, flipping through magazines, eating vending machine ham sandwiches. Eventually I gave up and chain-smoked my entire pack of Marlboro Smooths outside, and bummed another smoke from a visitor doing the same.
When they finally let me in to see her, she was smiling. It was a wounded smile, yes, but a real one. “It doesn’t hurt anymore, Kai,” she assured me. “I can’t feel it anymore. Everything’s going to be okay.”