I didn’t know what had come over me. All I knew was that was Casey unhappy so I was furious. I thought Ben was trouble the moment he stepped foot in my parents’ house that summer and I knew that he was a threat; the only thing in between Casey and I.
No, I hadn’t cared much for the kid but Casey did – obviously – and Ben had crossed the line. I’m not a violent guy but he’d tipped me over the edge; a cliff edge. A spark had lit and my fuse was ignited… like a rocket… Whoosh! Boom! Crash!
I’d had no idea where it had come from but the punches just kept on coming and coming. Even after I’d been knocked to the ground briefly by Ben they still continued to keep on flying from my fists up to the point where he’d fallen unconscious.
Casey had been so mad at me, yelling and screaming at me, telling me I was an idiot and that I’d only made things worse. She even spat that she felt I needed to take anger management classes and see a therapist; which she may have a point there… the tiniest point, that is. However, I still felt that she had, perhaps, been over reacting just a little, tiny bit. Yes, I felt bad for what I’d done – afterwards – but, at the end of the day, he’d provoked it and the blame should not have been entirely piled on me.
After arguing about what to do with Ben, I’d found myself sat at the wheel of my car driving to the nearest hospital – that was nowhere near the house – with Casey on the backseat with him lying with his head in his lap. He’d occasionally drifted in and out of consciousness, not knowing exactly where he was or what had happened, but for the majority of the time he was completely out of it. When he had come around, it was always the same stuff that came out of his mouth:
“I’m in so much pain… I’m aching all over… I’m dying… that God damn boyfriend of yours has broken my nose… I’m gonna kill him!”
Even as a guy I thought he was complaining far too much than he should have and just thought over and over again each time a new complaint left his mouth: Stop being such a guy and deal with it! Nevertheless, Casey fussed over him as if he was a child; as if he was their son’s age.
“You’re in Marc’s car, Ben. We’re taking you to the hospital… you’re in a pretty bad way.” She told him. She wiped away an escaped tear drop from her and continued to stroke his bruised face. I rolled my eyes and carried on driving.
“Marc?” he moaned, “He’s a complete git! I’m gonna get him arrested and done for assault.”
“Don’t say things like that, Ben, he didn’t mean to–”
“Didn’t mean to!?” he scoffed, “Then what did he mean to do then? Invited me to play a game of chess?”
“Don’t start something off, Ben.” I breathed, trying to keep calm.
“Oh god… he’s driving!?”
“Yes, Ben, I’m driving and if you don’t shut up I’ll make you walk to the hospital.”
“Stop being stupid, Marc,” Casey butted in, “it’s your fault we’re going to the hospital in the first place.”
“I know, Casey, you haven’t stopped reminding me since we left the house!” I yelled back. I pressed down further on the accelerator and changed gears accordingly. There wasn’t much around so I shouldn’t have caused too much of a hazard.
“Ah, my head,” Ben continued to moan, “it hurts so much.”
“I know, Ben,” Casey soothed, playing with strands of his hair with one hand and holding his hand in the other. She rubbed her thumb gently back and forth against his skin and smiled weakly as she looked down at him. I recognized that look.
“Case,” he murmured, tilting his face towards hers and looking her in the eye. She held his gaze and neglected to look away for a moment, “I’m so sorry… for everything. I never meant to hurt you; all I ever wanted was for you to be happy… you and James. I wanted what was best for us and what would make us closer to being a family… a real family.
“I wanted to save up and buy the dream house with you and give our son the best life possible. I wanted to wake up beside you every morning and see your beautiful face smiling in front of my eyes. I wanted to love you until the end of our time on Earth and beyond the grave.
“I love you, Casey, and I always will but I know that I can’t expect the same response from you. Just… don’t leave me lingering like a bad smell. Just tell me and I’ll back off. If nothing else, I still want to be your friend. But just remember that I love you. Never forget.” I looked at Casey through the interior mirror and watched longingly, keeping my ears pricked at all times.
‘Please, Case, do the right thing. Don’t break my heart.’ I thought to myself; pleading to her telepathically. I couldn’t lose her…
“Ben…” she whispered, with a tear drop falling down her cheek, “you sure know how to make a girl feel bad… you’ve put me in such a difficult predicament and I don’t know what to say,” she looked up and stared into my eyes in the mirror, trying her hardest not to cry. I felt her pain as my heart began to slowly crush into tiny pieces, ready to leave my chest empty and cold as it had been before,
“I love you… but I can’t choose between you. You have your special, unique qualities and so does he. I can’t live without you but I can’t see my life without him either. I just… don’t know what to do.” Although she’d directly spoken to me I knew that she was also speaking to him too, as it could have gone either way. I breathed deeply through the aching pain in my chest and drowned everything out. I couldn’t go back to who I’d previously been… I couldn’t!
“Marc,” I heard. I looked into the mirror and saw Casey’s worried expression. I snapped my focus back to the road ahead and breathed deeply. The more I looked at her, the more it hurt, “Marc slow down.”
I ignored her. I hadn’t noticed the car’s gradual gain in speed as I pushed down hard on the accelerator. Slow down? Hadn’t she been moaning at me before to hurry up? She was the one that wanted to get him to the hospital quicker and now she wanted me to slow down!?
“Marc, please, you’re driving too fast. Slow down!” she warned. Her voice was growing with concern and alarm as the car got faster and faster. I changed the gear.
“Marc, listen to me. Slow down!”
‘Slow down… slow down… SLOW DOWN!’
“Marc! Look out!”