Awake

Something I did for a writing challenge.

The night air chills my skin. I pull my coat closer towards me with one hand, the other grips on tightly to Barney's leesh. He's excitable tonight, lolloping about with his tongue hanging out and spraying saliva everywhere. He's a bit of a dunce, but I love him so very much. He's the only company I have on these long walks of ours.
Well actually, there is someone else. I only see him occasionally though, and only for short periods of time. He always has to leave and he leaves in a rush, like there is somewhere he needs to be. I never think to ask why.
Speak of the devil. I see him there in front of me, leaning against the brick wall under the streetlight's dull gaze. He smiles at me and then crouches, stretching out his hand for Barney to slober all over.
"How are you this evening?" I ask, grinning as Barney proceeds to lick his face and almost knocks him off balance. "Stop it Barney."
He manages to pull Barney off him and then stands up. He cocks his head to the side as if confused. "This evening?"
"Yeah..." I peer at his blank expression, wondering if he is actually being serious. Aggitation starts to spread rapidly across his face and I watch his eyes widen in horror as they focus on something behind me.
I whirl around, but see nothing except the stretch of pavement I had walked down only moments before and the familiar glare of the streetlights. Emptiness. I turn back just as he is hurrying off.
"Wait!" I call out after him. "I don't even know your name."
"John," he hollers over his shoulder.
"John," I say. Trying the name out. I blush.
...
I can't get John out of my head. The way his mouth curves when we meet, how his dark hair stirs restlessly in the night breeze and his eyes, like two pools of my favourite chocolate. It's clichéd I know. But I feel like I have nothing else to think about.
Without him, the walk seems more desolate than ever, the pavements more empty. Even with Barney running around manically, barking at me when he thinks I'm not paying him any attention, I still feel so alone.
But when John's there, I can barely contain my joy. A smile breaks out across my face and I must look like a complete buffoon. It's ridiculous. Like we're the only two people that exist in this world. Then he leaves and I'm alone again. And every time he goes, the isolation feels worse. I don't even know if I'll see him again. Perhaps that is why I am so happy when I do?
...
There he is again. In the same spot, leaning against the wall, only he seems more restless. His fingers are tapping nervously against his thigh and it takes him longer to notice me. When he does he stands bolt upright and strides towards me.
The streetlight glows against his pallid skin. The warmth I usually found inside his brown eyes had been sucked away and replaced with a coldness. I try to laugh it off and make small talk because I know whenever he looks like this it will mean that he has to go.
"Is it just me or is it always night here?" I joke. He nods solemnly. I attempt to chuckle nonchalantly, but in this silence it sounds like a cat being strangled.
Aggitation begins to form on his face again and I know that he's about to leave me. Before I can stop myself I snatch his hands up in mine. In doing so I have dropped Barney's lead, but I don't care. I know he won't stray so it'll be fine. Except it's not fine - I'm not fine. The thought of John leaving frightens me.
"Please don't go," I practically whimper. I realise that my fingers are digging into his wrist so I loosen my grip.
A look of sympathy, possibly even empathy, creeps through his aggitation. He takes one hand away only to place on my cheek and brush against it soothingly. "It's okay. It'll be alright."
"I'm so scared," I tell him. "But I have no idea why."
"There's no need to be scared anymore," he reassures me. "It's okay now. Everything will be alright. She's going to pull through."
"She?"
He presses his lips against mine before I have a chance to wonder what 'she' he is referring to, or who 'she' even is. As he pulls away I notice a figure reflected in his eyes. There's a flash of silver and suddenly I'm flying.
I land hard on the pavement, dazed for a few seconds. After getting my breath back I glance over at John. He is sprawled across the ground. There's something sticking out of his chest.
I scramble over to him, but pause when I see the knife, burried deep inside him. His clothes are gradually becoming more and more soaked in blood. His own blood.
This scene looks familiar.
"John," I cry. "John." I don't know what else to do I remove my coat and press it against his wound. It stops most of the flow, but he's still bleeding out. "Stay with me, John. You can't leave me now." I gently take his hand, careful not to nudge him.
His eyes fix on mine and I see determination shine through his weakening state. "You've got to wake up," he says.
"Huh? What are you talking about, I'm not sleep-"
He cuts me off. "Wake up. You need to wake up. Do this for me."
"I don't... I don't know how." Confusion mingles with my fear. Fear for him, fear about being alone again.
The hand not holding mine reaches across towards me. I reluctantly let go of my coat and take it. "You have nothing to fear. It will be alright."
"Don't leave me."
"You need to wake up."
"How?"
I watch in dread as he leads me towards the knife stuck in his chest and instructs me to "pull it out."
"I can't," I yell. "You'll die."
"You can't save me," he says. There's a sadness in his brown eyes. A tear forms and then trickles softly down his cheek. "I'm already dead... But I can still save you. You need to wake up." He steadies my shaking hands and guides them onto the knife's handle. "Pull it out."
...
I wake up in a hospital room. I'm parched, like haven't had a drink in days. Resting on the counter beside me is Barney, my teddy bear, along with various 'Get Well Soon' cards.
I start to recall what happened. Walking home back from a friend's one evening. The yelling. The knife. The pain. Believing I was going to die... On the road I had promised my parents I would not go down. The road, where only a month before, a boy several years older than me had been shot and killed. John.
Just as all these painful memories hit me the door swings open and I see my mum rush in. Tears of joy. She kisses me. Holds me. Tells me that she loves me. Then she calls the rest of my family to let them know that I am finally, awake.

The End

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