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The Subway Part 3
I was in an oven. Everything burned. I was on fire. No, I was in a pit of ice, drowning, freezing, stiff and unresponsive. I was nothing. I was drifting.
But slowly, so, so slowly, I came back. Light began to peek into my little slice of Hell, swarming across my vision until everything else was gone. I became aware of a slow, steady beeping noise.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
It irritated me. What right did whatever this was have to beep when I had just been awakened from my own personal torment? I tried to yell at it, but my throat was dry and aching, and hardly a sound escaped my lips.
On the bright side, no pun intended, my sight was starting to clear. The light reluctantly began to recede, revealing two green, spectacled eyes poised right over my face. If I could’ve, I’d have yelled.
My mom was standing right over me. As in so-close-I-could-smell-her-coffee-breath proximity. Her wildly curly brown hair was sticking up in all directions, and there were large bags under her anxious blue-green eyes.
“Mom,” I rasped. “Did you have to stand that close?”
“Aya,” she breathed, relieved, and started to reach for a hug before drawing back. I wrinkled my brow, puzzled. That was when I noticed my surroundings.
I was in a hospital lying in—what a shock—a hospital bed. Monitors and machines had been erected around me, and an IV was stuck into my arm. Looking down at the thin silver line under my skin, I shivered. I HATED needles. Risk breaking my neck everyday doing crazy skills the human body shouldn’t attempt? No problem. Needles? Ugh.
I also couldn’t help but note how bulky I felt. Upon closer examination, the reason was revealed: bandages. I was covered in them. And other things. Both my ankles were encased in large, awkward plaster casts. My knees were tightly wrapped, as were my ribs—I could barely breathe. Two of my fingers were in splints. Softer bandages encased both of my arms up to the elbow, and when I tried tilting my head back, I felt a bandage looped around my head, crossing my forehead and covering my lower skull like a demented head band.
“How bad is it?” I asked warily. “What did I injure?”
My mom bit her lip nervously. “Well…are you sure you want to hear?”
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, remembering what happened the last time I did that. No, mom, I don’t want to hear it from you, I want to wait here until a doctor comes in and tells me in a much more brutal fashion using super-long scientific words I can’t understand. Sheesh. “Yes, I’m sure.”
She took a deep breath. Oh, that’s not a good sign. “OK. Here we go. You fractured the bottom of your skull, chip fractured both ankles, sprained both knees, the right knee worse than the left, fractured one rib and bruised several others, bruised your lower back, fractured two of your fingers, and badly tore up your forearms.” She winced. “Maybe I should have put that less bluntly.”
Oh. Well. That would explain why I looked like a little girl’s American Girl Doll once she had just gotten the injured kit. I hadn’t realized I’d been hurt this severely. I suppose the adrenaline took some of the pain away.
I noticed my mom wasn’t looking at me anymore. She was looking at a boy in the waiting room, sitting on a chair with his head tilted back and his eyes closed. But seeing his tense, alert posture, I knew he was awake.
My mom saw me follow her glance. “The boy who saved you,” she explained quietly. “He’s been here the whole time, all three days you were unconscious. After he lifted you out and you collapsed, he actually carried you until the ambulance arrived. And no offense dear, but you weigh a bit more than the average backpack. I’ve tried to get him to go home, or to tell me why he did all of that, but he won’t answer me. Do you want to talk to him? See if he’ll respond to the girl he saved?” She was smiling a bit at the end.
This was interesting. So the boy had not only pulled me onto the platform, he’d also carried me away and waited by my bedside this whole time? Strange. New Yorkers were not, typically, that considerate. “Sure, why not,” I said, working to keep my tone casual.
My mom nodded, as if expecting the answer. Well, why wouldn’t she be? What else would I say? “No, I refuse to speak to the boy who so rudely saved my life.”
“I’ll go get him, then I’ll leave you two alone.” She left, trudging out the door, but not before shooting a sly wink in my direction. I sighed, and almost shook my head, but I stopped myself. If I’d fractured my skull, shaking my head probably was not the brightest idea.
A few seconds later, the door opened, and in he came. My savior.
I ran my eyes over him, and raised one brow. The kid looked like he belonged in California. Flawless tanned skin, tousled dirty blonde hair, wide, plush pink lips and deep grey eyes made up the perfect LA actor/supermodel look. How cliché is it that the guy who helped me from those tracks looks like he’s from Hollywood? I could picture this as a movie so easily. The dashingly handsome guy steps in and rescues the damsel in distress. I didn’t want to be a damsel in distress. They were usually weak, helpless, obnoxious things. That wasn’t me. I wasn’t helpless.
My train of thought had put me in a rather bad mood, but the boy was oblivious to the fact. “Hi,” he began tentatively, in that deep, rich voice I remembered hearing on the platform before I blacked out. “I’m Luke.”
Luke. Simple, generic name. “I’m guessing you already know my name.” It was more than a guess. He’d called me by name when he’d lifted me out of the subway.
“Yeah,” he mumbled, staring down at his sneakers awkwardly. Hmm. Boys like him usually weren’t awkward. Perhaps I’d misjudged him.
But that didn’t mean I wasn’t curious. I wanted to know why he’d gone to all this trouble for a girl he’d never met. So, without warning, I asked, “Why?”
Luke blinked, startled. “Why what?” Was he stupid? No, that was unlikely. He knew what I was asking.
“Why did you do all of this? Why did you bother? Why lift me out of there, carry me to the ambulance, then wait here all this time? Why do all of that for an absolute stranger?”
His bright grey eyes scrutinized me carefully. “I have my reasons,” Luke replied slowly.
“And those would be?” Patience was a virtue I did not have.
“I don’t have to tell you.”
I clenched my fists, then grimaced when my fingers groaned in protest. “No, I guess you don’t,” I muttered angrily.
There was a brief, awkward pause. “So I guess you’re going to keep on “helping” me,” I said eventually, voice layered with cynicism. “Hold my hand the whole way.”
He must have heard the sarcastic bite in my voice, but despite that, he simply smiled and replied, “I’m going to try.”