The Loner is the First


Charles and I were on the rooftop of the mall, on top of
the tower where he had set up lawn chairs and such. The night was beautiful,
and I let it consume me. The two of us already had around seven cans of soda
apiece. It was going to be a memorable day.

 The reckless side of the British exchange student took
him over when he showed me ‘free running’. Of course, I didn’t grasp it as well
as him, who was doing flips off of walls and such, but I was pretty good. In
Charles’ words, it was running with style, and ten times as tiring.

 “You know, mate” Charles began, opening up another drink,
“after a few weeks you might be as good as me. Heck, you could be better”.

I nodded, smiling. Spending time with Charles was always
worthwhile. “I wouldn’t go that far. I couldn’t flip on land if my life
depended on it”.

 “Can you slip on a diving board?” Charles asked me.

 “Yeah” I answered, leaning back in my chair.

 Charles grinned. “Then it won’t be that hard for you”.

 We let the sounds of the night and the city falling
asleep fill in the silence. It was a wonderful place to stay at. Even if
looking at the blazing building lights weren’t what you were interested in,
nature was abound in the green space just next to the mall.

 We were hanging out for maybe a half an hour or so. I
asked Charles if he wanted to camp out up here for the night, and he said we
could go fetch some sleeping bags if we felt like it. I wasn’t ready to head
back to my empty home. My parents were always busy, and this week was no
exception; yet another business trip was scheduled to Japan, and they would be
gone for the next few days.

 Just before we got up to go, I heard my cellphone’s
ringtone buzzing in my pocket. Surprised since I didn’t receive many calls, I
took it out and opened it up. I gazed at the number, anger beginning to flow
through me.

 “Who’s that, Lionel?” Charles asked me, stretching as he
exited his chair.

 “Daniel” I replied icily.

 With an ‘Oh’ motion with his mouth, Charles bowed his
head. “Gonna answer it?”

 I shrugged. “Might as well. I have plenty to say to him

 I pressed the call button and held the device up to my
head. “Alright, realize the fact that I don’t wish to talk to you at all, so
please make this quick, okay?”

 He cut straight to the unexpected chase. “Lionel, this
isn’t about earlier. It’s Claudia”.

 I screamed into the phone. “Keep her! She’s your
responsibility! Do you expect me to assist you in this relationship? No. You
devoted yourself to her, she was blind and fell for you. What else do you need
to say? Heck, what else do I have to say?” At this point, Charles was looking
at me strangely.

 “She’s… she’s… it’s bad, Lionel, I’m getting nervous-“

 I waved my hand. “I don’t care. If your relationship is
screwed up, I don’t care. You’ll have to fix it up yourself”.

 “It’s not the relationship, Lionel… she’s in ER”.

 I almost dropped the phone. “What… wha-… why? How?”

 “It was just today, we were-“

 I shook my head furiously. “Never mind, what hospital is
she at?”

 “The local one, it’s nearby the mall… but anyways-“

 I turned off the phone. I turned towards Charles quickly.
“We need to go to the hospital”.

 Charles groaned. “Fighting, suicides… you guys have a way
of landing on a bed in those establishments” Charles remarked, already climbing
down the tower. From what I could tell from my brief conversation with Daniel,
the situation was delicate and critical. If there was one thing I couldn’t do,
even though she left me for a terrible reason, was lose Claudia. I needed her
by my side… no matter what she did.

 Thankfully, the mall was nearby the hospital, as
mentioned by Daniel. Whatever had happened, I was going to get there as fast as
possible. Making the situation more dire, Charles didn’t take the usual route
off of the rooftop, but down an emergency ladder, as though he knew that things
weren’t good.

 “Who is it this time?” Charles asked, though I was
certain he knew the answer.

 Breathless, I responded. “Claudia… I don’t know what
Daniel did, but I swear to God if I find out it’s his own fault I’ll…” 

I left the words hang in the air to let Charles’
imagination fill in for the empty space. The night would be pitch black
normally, but the multiple streetlights helped us. We were off in a full-out
sprint, nearly missing the entrance to the hospital in our haste.

 We rushed to the reception desk.

 “Excuse me, may I help you?” the receptionist asked.

 I nodded. “Yes, please… did a Claudia enter recently?”

 She checked the computer. “Just a little bit ago. Room 14
C” she informed me.

 Quickly offering a thank-you I ran off for the stairs,
not wanting to wait for the elevator. I hoped that she’d look better when I got
there… I didn’t want to see her beat up, and I didn’t want to hear any bad news
about her.

 In no time at all, Charles and I entered her room. Thankfully,
we had no problems from any hospital staff; they didn’t mind letting us in at
this time. I looked at the body that was lying on the bed… and turned away. It
was bad. It looked really bad.

 The next thing I looked for was Daniel. He wasn’t anywhere
to be found. I cursed… that figures. You’d think he’d be at least in the
reception desk by the time we arrived.

 “Mate… I-“

 I cut Charles off. “Listen, Charles, save it. Let’s just…
we can sit here. We could disturb her”.

 “She can’t hear ya” Charles pointed out.

 I would have shouted, but under these circumstances I
held back. “Please. Let’s just be quiet. I… I have nothing to say anyway”.

 The night droned on, and the two of us hadn’t left
Claudia’s side yet. She was still alive, but not awake. The doctors asked us to
leave while they began looking her over, but I refused. They would have to
throw me out if they wanted me to leave.

 Eventually, she did wake up, once the doctors had left.
Daniel had arrived sometime during the operation. Her eyes opened up, and when
her head turned, the first thing she saw was Daniel… of course it would be.

 “I’m… I’m sorry…” Daniel uttered, seemingly on the verge
of tears.

 “I knew you’d be here…” Claudia said happily, seemingly
have forgiven.

 I glanced away at him, not wishing to be here anymore. It
was just about to become a love fest between them… even though I was here
first, with her the whole way.

 “Let’s bail” I whispered to him. Charles nodded, figuring
out why for himself. We stood up, prepared to sneak off, but Daniel noticed

 “Actually… Lionel was the first one here… he was here for
you where I wasn’t”.

 Claudia finally turned and saw me, but I didn’t really
care at this point. If it took that long for her to know that I was in her
presence was enough. Besides, this is what she wants… Daniel. So why stay?

 She looked different though… surprised. Surprised that
the person that ACTUALLY loved her had decided to make sure she was okay. I
beckoned for Daniel to follow me out the door, for it was time I talked to him
about this accident.

 We stepped out, and we began conversation.

“Now… tell me what the heck happened to her?” I asked.

 “She… she was hit by a car” he said shyly.

 I caught him on it. “That’s not the whole story”.

 He took a deep breath, and this immediately worried me.
“It all started at the mall… when you came by. She kept pestering me on what it
was all about… and… I… I didn’t give her a straight answer… so she got
annoyed”. I didn’t like this already. “Then she told me to…” he paused.

 I looked at him, my brow furrowed. “Go on…”

 “She told me to… pull the… pull the car over. She wanted

 “And you let her!” I shouted. I heard Claudia stir in her
bed, obviously trying to listen in on us, and my loud voice wasn’t helping too

 “Look, there wasn’t-“

 I held up a hand. “Don’t start. Don’t you DARE start! I
told you… do not give her any harm. She’s hit by a car and on the edge, Daniel…
hit by a freaking car!”

“You were the one who tried to commit suicide!”

 This cut deep. “Why would you bring that up… of all
things? You know my life was unforgiving! You can’t pull that out on me!”

 “You’re pulling your warning out on me!”


One shove led to another. A retort led to more pushing. I
could tell we were on the brink of a fight, but thankfully Charles, who had
been observing the scene, intervened at this point.

 “That’s enough out of the two of you. Settle down, or
head out… got it?” he said.

 I shook my head, already walking away. “You know what;
fine. Treat her terribly… then show up and make things perfect again. Whatever
you do… do what you want, Daniel, do what you want…”

 “Lionel, I’m-“

 I stopped him. “You heard me. She should be with me…
someone who wouldn’t let her get hit by cars, someone who would care for her... someone who had cared for her forever. It’s your fault… and it’s ALWAYS
been your fault… for almost everything… so that’ll be enough for today”.

 I didn’t look behind me to see if Charles was tagging
along, but I left the hospital. When I did turn around, he was hot on my heels.

 “Cut ‘em loose, mate” he told me.

 “What do you mean by that, Charles?”

 “I’ve been in the middle of this feud for too long. You,
Daniel, and Claudia just aren’t meant to be friends. Leave ‘em be… find some
new friends. Just save me the headaches, right?”.

 I nodded, trying to think the words over. It made so much
sense… it was the truth… yet I decided to leave it out of the picture for now.
Daniel was getting on my nerves, and I wasn’t going to deal with Claudia
kissing the ground he walked on like a god.

 Maybe it was time for a change of scenery. Charles was the poor man who was stuck in the center of the battlefield... if anyone knew the truth then he did. He was my true wingman... I trusted him.

I need knew friends.

The End

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