I was day drunk in my friend's basement when my brother called me, I couldn’t decipher his words, let alone feel the weight of them. I tried hard to concentrate on what he was saying, but I only caught sentence fragments.
- “get the book, I cant do it anymore,” He all but sobbed into the phone.
I raised my tiny little shot glass into the air as if he could see the gesture of my proclamation. “Screw the book Matt, tear it up!”
Somebody's arms slipped around me, trying to pull me down from a soot covered coffee table. I shook the persistent blonde girl off. It was only Britta my brother's self appointed assistant, full time pain in the ass. “You're such a leech. I just want to hang out with my friends alone!”
Said friends were too busy mimicking me to hear the exchange between Britta and myself. I jumped down from the table and drowned in a chorus of my own words on repeat. “Screw the book, tear it up”
Britta grabbed my phone from me. “Matthew!” She screamed into the receiver. “Matthew where are you?.... Damn it. The lines dead. Lets go!” Britta dug her claws into my arm and pushed me up the stairs. She practically dragged me to my car. I walked over to the driver's side. She stepped in front of me. “Not on your life. Give me the keys.”
I shook my head,because there was just no way I was letting her drive the Spyder. She reached into my pocket where a purple key chain was barely visible over the seam. I twisted away from her and batted her hand away. “Get your hands out of my pants,” I huffed, growing more agitated by the second.
When at last I had my keys secured in my hand, Britta knocked me to the stone driveway. “Are you serious right now!”
She leaned over me, getting so close that I could see the orange flecks in her brown eyes. “ I don’t have time for your stupid antics right now. There are things way more important than you Taya Dallas.” She pinned my arm to the ground. My fingers tightened around the key. She tried to claw them open.
We grappled like this for a moment. With my free arm I reached for her face and pushed her head away from mine, covering her eyes in the process. Her breath smelled of this sugary white wine she was always drinking. She brought her arm up to dislodge my palm from her face. I took advantage of having my other arm free. Immediately, I threw the keys behind me, out of her reach. They landed in a heavy spread of rhododendron bushes. Britta cursed and rolled off of me.
I smiled triumphantly. If I couldn’t drive my car, nobody could.
She muttered something under her breath. A prayer possibly? Though I never pegged her as the Hail Mary type.
She walked over to my car. I vaguely registered the sound of the door closing. I was on my feet when I heard the engine starting. The windows rolled down. “Get in.”
I threw open the passenger door, and slammed it shut. I was about to question her hot wiring skills, when I noticed the keys in the ignition. “How? I threw them in the bushes.”
Britta snorted. “You're so drunk, I'm sure that’s what you thought you did.”
We pulled out of the driveway. I stared at Britta with contempt and wonder. “Stop staring at me. You’re totally creeping me out right now.... Matthew needs us, he could be in danger.”
I blinked. “Matt's fine. He's at home reading a book,” I rubbed my temples as my head began to throb under the glare of traffic lights.
“God, what's your obsession with my brother, do you like him or something?”
She laughed as if I had told the funniest joke in the world. “He's easy on the eyes, sure, but I have a whole stable of men back home. Ready, able bodied-”
I held my hand up to cut her off. “Please I haven’t thrown up yet, and I prefer not to do so in this car.”
She glanced at me, briefly swerving into the other lane to pass a car. “Don't act like you're so virtuous.”
I ignored the quip, and busied myself chipping away at my french manicure.
We turned into the housing estate, pausing briefly at the intercom. Once the gates opened to us, Britta burned rubber rounding the corner to my house. Two police cars, and an ambulance occupied space in the driveway. We got out of the car simultaneously.
A body bag, and stretcher were being hauled into the ambulance by two paramedics. I ran forward pushing my way past two objecting cops. My parents stood off to the side, my father cradling my mother. The air rushed out of my lungs. I surveyed my surroundings in a slow circle before collapsing into somebody's arms. Britta. She wept silently beside me. “He sent me with you tonight. Had I not gone...” She steadied me on my feet. I turned to face her, but she had disappeared.
A pair of strong arms seized me. “I'm sorry Miss, I have to move you away from the parameters.” The officer began assisting me away from the ambulance. I wrestled against him. Matthew wasn't dead. He just couldn't be. I had to get to the stretcher and free him from that suffocating body bag. I tore my arm free from his clutch and shoved him as hard as I could, before I took off towards Matthew. “Matty!”
I was intercepted by another officer, just as the doors to the ambulance were thrown shut. He hugged me to his chest, so close I could smell his aftershave. His name was J.L Reyes. While I was distracted reading his name tag, he pinned my arms behind me and handcuffed my wrists. “I'm so sorry,” he said genuinely. It made me cry harder. There was no saving Matt. I had missed my chance earlier.