The line was dead.
I listened to the continuous beeping with growing annoyance. The line was dead, and I couldn’t remember who I'd been trying to call in the first place. I squeezed my eyes shut in frustration. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Warm hands moved over me. Was I that cold? Yes, I could feel the chills moving across my flesh. And that damned beeping, ever constant, always echoing through my head. I was quite certain I'd gone mad.
"Reina, wake up."
Gasping, I gave a start. My eyes fluttered open slowly. I glanced about the room in attempt to take in my surroundings. Bleach white walls, tile floor, faint smell of misery. Hospital.
Consciousness hit me like a full-on rain storm, washing over me. I felt myself become aware of every detail around me. The beeping was coming from the heart monitor. The dull throb was coming from my wrists. The warmth was coming from the tiny hand pressed into my own.
"Wynter." My sister gave me a shaky smile, one I met with a perfectly blank expression.
"I knew you'd be okay," she said breathlessly. She was giddy now, grinning at me widely. Pulling my hand from her own, I turned my wrists up to examine the damage. The doctors had sewn me up nicely, palm to elbow. They'd managed to stop me from dying. Without being asked, my sister began to recap.
"It was Melissa who got to you," she explained. "She told Lexi she thought you were going to try, so Lexi got a teacher while Melissa went to you." There, Wynter paused, her glowing face instantly turning downcast. "Why, Reina? You were so happy. I thought...I thought maybe everything was better."
"Everything was fine," I lied. Wynter raised her eyebrows, gently turning my wrists up once again. Divided by the length of the freshly stitched cut was a network of scars, intricately woven into a tapestry of misery. I turned my head away from her, unable to bear the look of pain upon her face. My mind travelled to the one thing I'd been desperately pleading to stay out. I felt the gnawing in my stomach as if someone had stabbed me straight through the heart and left me to bleed drip by agonizing drip.
"Wynter?" I asked her at last in a fragile whisper. "Is...did...is Xan-"
I never got the chance to finish, because at that moment the door gave a little groan and was pushed open. Both my gaze and Wynter's shot to the opening, but only I gasped at the figure standing there.
"Reina," he murmured. "Oh, thank God."
Xander was across the room in three easy strides, his icy blue eyes studying me furiously. And all I could do was stare right back, wondering what he was thinking, and just what his penetrating gaze saw. Without even speaking, Xander asked Wynter to leave. My sister hurried to her feet, kissing me on he cheek before she left.
I never thought the day would come when it would be uncomfortable to be alone with Xander. But all the usual peace he brought to me was missing. The room felt cold. And instead of his presence filling me up, it left me feeling empty.
At last, Xander let out a lengthy sigh. "I don’t understand you," he said quietly. There was no compassion in his voice. "You have no idea the hell I've been going through in the past two days."
At that moment, Xander was no longer the boy I loved, no longer my best friend. He had become a stranger. I narrowed my eyes in defense. "You?" I cried. "Melissa came and told me you were going to kill yourself!"
"I thought you were dead!" Xander screamed in anger. It was the first time since we'd met, I thought, that he'd ever used such a harsh tone with me. And I was merely left to wonder how such a friendship had so easily deteriorated.
I bit at the insides of my cheeks, inviting the sudden rush of pain to calm me, searching for the clarity it brought me. "Why would you think that?" I asked him quietly. "Melissa said someone told you. Who was it?"
Xander let out a lengthy sigh, reaching up to run a hand through his black hair. "Reina," he began, but it was clear he could find no other words.
Reaching out, I ran my fingertips lightly down his jawbone, across his lips. All the while he watched me like the angel he was. "I didn’t want to wake up," I said in a near whisper. "I didn’t ever want t go a day without you."
Xander placed his own hand over the top of mine. "I know," he murmured. "I love you, Reina. I really do. But-"
His words were cut short when the door opened once again. This time, it was my father who came in. "Reina," his voice wavered as my name fell from his lips. "I thought I'd lost you too."
I did my best to smile for him, however miniscule. "I'm here, Daddy. I'm okay."
My dad crossed the room to m, sitting on the edge of the bed. "I'll never forgive your mother for trying to take you like that," he told me. "For upsetting you so much."
I didn’t speak, for there were no words to say, no possible way to salvage the moment. When it became too much entirely, Xander gave my hand a tight squeeze and turned to leave. Just before he reached the door, I called him back.
"Did you..." I trailed off, but my eyes had fallen to the perfect row of stitches on my wrist.
Glancing at my dad, Xander let out a slow breath and pulled down the sleeve of his sweatshirt. His own wrist was covered with a series of scars in all directions, the most prominent of which were three vertical lines straight down.
Xander offered me another empty smile, pulled his sleeve down, and disappeared.