“Are you alright?” The man behind the counter asked, looking at me oddly.
“Fine.” I nodded and disappeared down an aisle to hide. I slid to the floor, and sat there trying to calm my breathing, stop the tears. The cashier appeared and came over, looking panicked.
“Are you okay? Should I call someone?”
“No, no I’m fine. Someone’s coming to get me. Could I... have some water?” I asked. He reached up and took a bottle from the shelf, passing it to me. “Thank you. Here.” I dug in my bag to find some money.
“No charge.” He protested.
I nodded in thanks and took to looking after my breathing again. I realised I should text Sam, let her know where I was in case she panicked, not that she had done the same for me, but I put that aside for the moment and sent her a message. It was only minutes later that she arrived, opening the shop door and looking around in panic until she spotted me. The shop keeper, who’d been calmly chatting to me to distract me, stood and moved aside.
“Cara, where’s Anna?” Sam asked, hurrying over to help me up.
“If she’s not outside, she’s buggered off.” I said, and then leant on Sam’s arm. “Thank you.” I told the shop keeper, and then Sam helped me outside.
“What happened when I left?”
“She kept bugging me.”
“You know she’s only trying to help.”
“Sam I swear if you start too-“
“-Okay, I’m not starting. I just think you could be a little less… unresponsive to our efforts to help.”
“Un… I’m not even going to have this argument now.” I muttered as I slipped in to the car and gratefully pulled on my seatbelt. I should have slept more last night, but I’d been concerned, even though I hadn’t wanted to be, about Sam.
“Alright.” She slipped in beside me. “So, Jak’s house?”
“Have you told your mother?”
“No. That’s this evening. When I woke up she was at work and there’s no way she’s picking up when she’s there.”
“Alright. Well how about you do that in bed, I’ll make you a cup of tea-“
“Thanks.” I said shortly, then sighed. “Actually, that’d be great. Thank you Sam.”
She smiled slightly and took my hand, rubbing it with her thumb.
“I know you don’t want me to get tested, and if it really means that much to you I won’t. But I’d like to. Just so we know there’s that option. It doesn’t mean it has to be taken, but just so you know.”
“I really don’t want you to be tested.”
“I don’t understand why though.”
“Because you’ve already done enough for me.” I admitted, pretending to look out of the window so I didn’t have to see her reaction. Her hand tightened on mine as I closed my eyes and then she removed it. I heard her change gear, and then her hand returned to mine.
“Cara, I’m not just doing it for you. It’s selfish, but I’m doing it for myself. You see I figure, if you have my kidney, you’ll be alive for longer. And that means I’ll get to kiss you for longer, hold you for longer… see you for longer.”
I bit my lip and felt a tear break through my eyelashes. I opened my eyes and turned to look at her from my seat.
“You’re a bit of a romantic aren’t you? It’s not enough to give me your heart, you want to give me one of your kidneys too.”
Sam chuckled, her eyes on the road.
“I don’t think there was any way that could have sounded less romantic.”
I hummed in agreement, and sat there for a moment.
“Could have been your bladder?”
She chuckled and squeezed my hand.
“Seriously Cara. Please let me do this.”
“I thought I’d distracted you.”
“What? By romancing my bladder? Never. I’ll do this for you. If it’s not a match, so be it. But if it is-“
“I won’t take it.” I stated as we pulled up at Jak’s house.
“Why? And none of this given me enough already stuff.”
“Because, I don’t know what I’d do if you died because of me.” I replied.
“And how do you think I feel?” She replied.
I stared at her. Hadn’t thought of it like that. But then I frowned.
“No, I’m sorry. I can’t let you.”
Sam scowled, the first time I’d seen her do it. I would have found it insanely adorable if I hadn’t been adamant that I was disagreeing with her.
“Discussion over Sam. I’m going in. I’ll see you later.”
“I’m coming too-“
“No you’re not. Home or stay here, I don’t mind. I want to do this myself.”
She huffed and rolled her eyes.
I shrugged and got out, closing the door and walking up to the door without looking back.
“Hey, Cara, what’re you doing here?” Liam grinned, opening the door wide. “Is that Sam in the car?”
“Yes. She’s not coming in. Is everyone here?”
“Yeah, course… why, is something wrong?”
“I need to talk to you. All of you.”
“Alright… you’re looking tired C, are you okay?”
“Where is everyone?”
“Jak and Ali are in bed still, not sleeping obviously,” He grinned at me, although his face was now slightly concerned. “Callum’s practicing downstairs.” Just as he told me, the drums began downstairs. “And right on cue…” He finished. “I’ll go get them. Sit down, help yourself to some tea.”
“Thanks.” I smiled weakly, sitting in one of the wooden chairs at the giant table and watching as he disappeared upstairs. Minutes later shrieks resounded through the house and I heard Liam’s rumbling laughter spill out as doors slammed and more shrieks rang out. I played with a chip in the table as Liam ran down the stairs, appearing with a grin on his face.
“That got them up.”
“What did you do?”
“Pretended to take a picture. They’ll be down soon. I’ll grab Callum.” He disappeared down the stairs and I sat, staring at the table, pondering how to tell my other friends in a way that wouldn’t cause arguments.
I couldn’t take any more arguments.