Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Rain pelted heavily at the windshield as the wipers struggled to swipe it away. I leaned forward to try and see better, driving blindly through the flood like weather.

Through the cascading rain, I spotted the ivy covered sign from the school. I switched on my turn signals and pulled quickly into the school parking lot, tardy and frustrated that I was late.

I managed to squeeze into a spot in between two smaller vehicles near the middle, and get to class before it started, though I was cutting it very close as I plopped down in my desk, soaking wet and out of breath.

“Good morning, Juliet.” Mr. Warner said, watching me as I rushed into the classroom.

“Good morning.” I replied, taking my seat at the desk I had sat in yesterday, pulling out my English textbook.

Mr. Warner, stood up, silenced the class and began the lesson. As he started talking, Boon whirled around in his desk to look at me, then waved. I waved back embarrassedly, then turned my attention subconsciously to the desk next to me.

I glanced at the empty desk with discontent. The desk I had first seen Nicholas in, as he handed me my fallen pencil yesterday. It was empty. And Nicholas was no where to be seen.

I turned my head, keeping my eyes focused on the teacher as I tried to hide my disappointment.

Maybe he was just late, I assumed. Or maybe he had quite the class. Was it because I was in it?

I tried to turn my attention completely off that subject, and sternly on Mr. Warner, who was now giving a speech from the book Gone with the Wind. But unsuccessfully, as I spent most of the class doodling on the margin of my notebook.

At the bell, I closed it, and shoved the notebook into my bag, then rushed to my next class, slightly hoping I would see Nicholas on my way. But of course, he was nowhere to be found.

By the middle Social Studies, I had managed to cover the entire outer edge of the first page of my notebook with meaningless swirls and doodles, continuing to draw more until a voice interrupted my sketching.

“You like to draw, I see.” A soft, but strong whisper spoke.

I turned my head towards the voice, in surprise. Blake had his chin on his hand, leaning towards me and gazing at me and then my notebook.

“Oh, well…not really.” I whispered, assuredly, closing the book.

He just stared at me, his eyes twinkling at me with interest, widening with each passing second. I looked away, uncomfortably. I didn’t like the way he gazed at me, and how it seemed to lure me in, like a hungry dog to a whiff of a T-bone steak.

“Well I’m not much of an artist myself. But you seem like you have a steady hand in art.“ He grinned at me charmingly.

I looked away, playing with my fingers as my cheeks blushed a bright pink. I looked at Mrs. Flynn, the teacher, to see if she had noticed our conversation. But she had her back to us, copying something on the chalk board from a book she was holding tightly.

I looked back at him and sighed. “Well, I’m not that good, either.”

“Oh, on the contrary. You could have fooled me.” He smiled again, his eyes on mine.

I looked away, feeling slightly uneasy, not planning on looking back.

I shivered as I realized he was still watching me, and continued to, until the end of class.

I wasn’t sure why Blake made me so uncomfortable. I was sure he was just trying to be nice. But for some reason, I couldn’t quite place it, he just gave me the creeps. And I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination or not, but he even smelt very strange…

The bell buzzed loudly through the classroom, expressing loudly that it was time for the next class. I didn’t waste a second to organize my things neatly in my bag. I just threw them in there, grabbed my coat and quickly jogged out of the room, hoping that Blake wouldn’t follow me.

And thankfully he didn’t.

Even though I wasn’t very hungry, and my stomach didn’t growl with desire at the smell of the foods that lingered in the cafeteria, I still grabbed a tray and went through the line, grabbing only an apple and a bottle of water. By the time I had paid for it, a hand had flown up across the room, motioning me towards the same table I had sat at yesterday.

I strolled over there, taking a seat in the chair Boone had saved for me, and setting my tray down. I grabbed my bottle of water, opened it and took a swig, then began picking the skin off my apple as they all watched me.

“Not much of an eater, huh?” Amber said, smiling and peering at my apple.

“Not really.”

“Man, that must be why your so darn skinny.” Exclaimed Marie, who had just finished eating a plate of spaghetti and was now peeling the crust off her garlic bread.

I pretended to laugh, and looked away, finally deciding to bite into the apple, instead of picking at it.

As I chewed, I waited for the discussion to change course, for someone to start a new subject. But when nobody did, I looked away, setting my apple down and grabbing my bottle of water again, looking around at everyone uncomfortably.

“Amber, what happened to your eye?” I blurted out suddenly, as I looked at Amber. A large, nasty looking bruise covered her eye, though it wasn’t very noticeable, because it looked like she tried to cover it with make up.

“I knew there was something different about you.” Kevin said, leaning in closer and studying Amber‘s face.

Amber quickly blushed, and looked away uncomfortably.

“Its nothing. Really.” She stammered, though I could tell she was lying.

“Are you sure? Let me see.” Marie wrapped her hands around Amber’s face and examined her eye. “Does it hurt?”

Amber pulled away, looking kind of annoyed. “It’s fine.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing! I said I’m fine!” She stood up quickly, grabbed her tray and walked to the trash can, slamming it on top and walking out of the cafeteria.

Everyone at the table was silent, looking at each other and exchanging confused glances.

“Touchy much?” Kevin said, after a few moments of awkward silence.

“What did we do?“ Boone asked.

I suddenly felt guilty. It was my fault for pointing it out. It just looked really bad, I couldn’t control my words before they slipped out.

“I shouldn’t have said anything.” I muttered.

“No, it wasn’t your fault. Amber is just…a really touchy girl, I guess.” Boone assured, sticking a straw in his mouth and slurping his coke.

“What do you think happened to her, though?” Kevin asked, looking around at everyone. “It did look pretty bad. And you don‘t just get bruises like that...”

“Whatever it was, it’s none of out business.” Marie said, looking down at her food, a strange expression on her face.

Nobody said anything. The entire table kept their heads low, and their mouths shut, saying nothing at all to each other at all, and eating their food slowly and silently.

I looked across the room, feeling horrible and like a jerk, my stomach twirling.

I gazed at the table that Nicholas had been sitting at yesterday. But it was empty, and the occupant absent. And I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I was the reason why…

I walked into the room for my last class with no enthusiasm whatsoever. I just wanted the day to end as quickly as it started.

I took a seat at the empty table I had sat at yesterday, behind Blake and his beautiful partner, alone and wondering maybe if Nicholas would come to school tomorrow, or if he would decide not to show up then, either. Maybe I had completely caused him to convert to home school, or to go to a private school. Even though I didn’t do anything at all. Was I just being paranoid? Why the heck did I even care, anyways?

I took out my text book and read along, though the words didn’t even reach my mind. My mind was too occupied with my confusing jumble of thoughts, there was no room for the gibberish that was I was scribbling on the page.

It wasn’t until I realized I had completely lost track of where the lesson was going, and how I had stayed on a page that we were finished looking over and moved on to the next, that I finally slammed my pencil down and forgot about it.

When the bell I had been waiting for since the beginning of the day had chimed its sweet sound of freedom, I snatched up my books, quickly jammed them into my back pack, and ran out to my truck as quickly as I could. I couldn’t get out of that parking lot quick enough.

When I had finally made it out onto the highway, I breathed a heavy sigh and tried to relax, but my thoughts protested otherwise. My head was like a traffic jam of why’s and what’s and what if’s, it was hard not to want to pull over and scream. But I clenched my jaw, grinding my teeth together in frustration and tried to take a deep breath.

Why in the world did I even freaking care about Nicholas? He is just a jerk I thought angrily. I didn’t want to like the person everyone else liked, knowing I had no chance with them, and thinking that maybe I was on his dislike list. And not knowing why bothered the heck out of me.

I slowed down a bit, realizing I was going just a tad bit too fast as I approached an long bridge, which crossed over a huge river that was mud red and swollen from all the rain.

As I drove across it, running my hand through my hair while the other one was on the wheel, several horns that honked in the distance caught my attention. I straightened up in alert as several cars began to speed up and swerve out of the way of a transfer truck that was spinning wildly out of control in all lanes of the narrow bridge.

As I slammed on my breaks, my heart drumming at my chest so quickly I was sure it would pop out, my truck suddenly stopped, the power cutting completely off as it stalled directly in the middle of the bridge.

I gasped, as I watched the transfer truck get closer to me. I stuck my hands on the key and tried to turn the engine back on, but it sputtered and then cut off again.

“NO!” I screamed as the car refused to restart. Now the honks and warnings of everyone around me erupted, along with the screeching of the tires of the large truck as it slid across the road, coming closer to my powerless truck.

I looked up, continuing to turn the key without luck. The transfer truck had tried to turn out of the way, but instead managed to aim the cab directly at me, coming at my truck at me full speed. The trailer behind it started tipping over and then fell to its side, overturning the entire truck as it continued to skate across the bridge towards me.

I let go of the key, and with a shot of adrenaline, I unbuckled my seat belt and crawled to the other side of the truck, bracing for the impact that was coming at me rapidly.

The overturned truck plowed into the driver’s seat of the truck, jerking me backwards until my head hit the window of the passenger seat. Glass shattered, and the sound of metal crunching and bending in unnatural ways filled my ears, and pain began to rocket through my head as the truck continued to push mine towards the guard rail, which was a flimsy metal wall that was the only thing between me and the raging river below.

Without much effort, my truck broke through the guard rail and sloped over the bridge. The door that I was now leaning on opened suddenly. I grabbed onto the handle as the door dropped like a trap door, swinging open while I was attached, hanging from it like a fish on a hook.

I started screaming, as the pain began to shoot up my arms. I knew I couldn’t hold on long as my fingers began to slip off the handle one by one. I hung on for dear life as I dangled astronomically high above the violent waters below, screaming for help, though knowing none would come. I could hear the screams and alarmed voices of the onlookers on the bridge above me, who were safe on the support of the ground beneath their feet, watching in horror and waiting for me to fall.

Sure enough, as I tried to hold on as tight as I could with only the one hand that clutched the door handle, it too slid off, and suddenly I was falling. Falling through icy air, as my scream was the last sound I could hear before hitting the freezing water below me.

They say that death is peaceful. That it’s serene and romantic, like your just painlessly fading into a dreamless sleep…

But it’s not.

Death is the most horrible encounter one could ever experience. It wasn’t like falling asleep. It was like…well…dying. You may be escaping into a sleep, but it wasn’t painless. It wasn’t at all like your completely numb. You can feel everything. Your just too weak to express it. But its almost like, even in death’s grasp, your senses multiply themselves by thousands. Like they were all holding back until it really counted. Until they knew that it would be the last time they would ever experience pain of this world, so they decide to feel everything as much as they can, before it all disappears.

I could feel the icy needles stab into my skin through my blood stained clothes as the rapid current swept me up into its fatal grasp. I could feel the burning in my chest as oxygen was replaced by only salty water. I could feel every sharp rock my body flew into as the current continued to flow indomitably. I could feel every open cut on my body as it filled with salty water that rushed in from the ocean. I could feel everything.

And just when I had begun to expect nothing but more pain, as I closed my eyes and waited for it to all fade away, until I was completely dead and waiting for what came after death, whatever that might have been, I was suddenly being pulled. Something strong wrapped around me, pulling me against the tide.

I opened my eyes as much as I could under water, trying to see what had a tight grip on me and was tugging me, but I only saw the blurry view of the murky red water I was underneath.

My lungs continued to burn, craving oxygen but getting nothing but water. I needed air.

But something was interrupting my dying process. Something was keeping me distracted from not panicking, from accepting the fate I had reluctantly fell into.

Suddenly, I broke through the water and my lungs were filled with icy air, only burning more, but gratified. I was no longer flailing through the water, no longer being swept up and carried. I was laying on cold, hard, dry ground that I felt like kissing joyfully.

I choked up water, spewing it out of my mouth and coughing uncontrollably. I tried to open my eyes, but the salt water had burned them, making everything still blurry and painful to see, so I closed them.

“Oh my god, Juliet?” a familiar, comfortingly gentle voice spoke. “Juliet can you hear me?”

I flung my eyes open, glaring at the beautiful, wet figure in front of me. The only person I wanted to see, but the one person I had not expected.

“Nicholas?” I choked out. The salt had burned my throat, making my words come out in only a whisper.

He looked at me, his eyes widening with shock as he leaned over me.

I lifted my arm, trying to stroke his face, just to touch him and see if he was real, but before I reached him, he stood up, looking over his shoulder.

I followed his gaze, dropping my hand and leaning up. We were pretty far from the bridge now, but I could see the flashing blue and red lights from the police and ambulance above.

I tried to stand, but once I got to my feet, I realized all my strength was gone, and I began falling forward, but before hitting the ground, I fell into Nicholas’ arms. He scooped me up and began carrying me back towards the bridge.

As soon as we got close to it, police ran up to Nicholas, alarmed looks on their faces as worried onlookers closely followed behind them.

“What happened to her?” a lanky officer asked.

“She was swept up into the river, and washed up along the bank. After I had retrieved her, she woke up.”

I looked at Nicholas, knowing that he was lying. I hadn’t washed up on the bank, I remembered floating in the middle of the river. If he had just “retrieved” me, why was he soaking wet? Why was he lying?

The officer grabbed the walkie-talkie and lifted it to his mouth, speaking into it professionally.

“This is officer Gene, we’re gonna need a stretcher and medical team over here.” He requested.

“A stretcher? No, I don’t need a stretcher I can walk just fine.” I protested, but Nicholas put a finger over my mouth.

“Shh.” he insisted.

Uh, roger that officer Gene, where exactly is your location?” The walkie-talkie replied.

Officer Gene looked around, the turned back to the speaker. “We’re on the south end of the bridge, approximately half a mile down stream.”

We are sending in a medical team down there right now.”

“Thank you.” The officer turned back to us. “Was she conscious when you found her?”

“Yes sir.” Nicholas replied.

“Where exactly did you find her?”

Nicholas motioned behind him. “A couple of yards back in that direction.”

“Alright.” Officer Gene replied, turning his attention towards me.

“Don’t worry, ma’am. A medical team is on their way, they should be here shortly.” He assured, smiling at me.

“I’m fine. Really. I don’t need a medical team.” I promised, but he didn’t listen.

A few people in white, button up shirts with red badges ironed onto them approached us quickly, carrying the stretcher with them.

Nicholas set me on the stretcher, then backed away as the people carried me off up the side of the river, back towards the bridge, and my truck, which was slightly hanging off the edge.

Nicholas didn’t follow us as we rushed back up to the bridge. Through crowd of people that gathered around me, he seemed to disappear.

“What is your name?” A woman asked.

“Juliet.” I replied, squinting as she shone a flashlight into my eye.

“Listen, Juliet, is there someone we can call? Your parents, maybe?”

I thought about Colleen, and then my stomach tied into a knot. I was sure she would be very upset about her truck.

“My aunt, Colleen, but she‘s at work.” I answered, gasping in pain as a pain began to shoot up through my left leg.

“Where does she work?”

“Cutler County Hospital.” I responded.

I gasped in surprise as the woman jabbed a needle into my arm, and ejected a clear liquid from the syringe. The ambulances and police cars surrounding us began to spin, and I felt light headed and dizzy.

“I just gave you something that is going to help the pain as we try to close the wound on your leg on our way to the hospital, okay?”

“No…no…” I tried to say. “I don’t feel anything…”

But by the time I had finished, my voice was just a faint echo. I wanted to continue what I was saying, but I couldn’t. I no longer had any control of my body as I was strapped down to the bed of the stretcher, being loaded into the tiny ambulance.

I closed my eyes, and waited as everything around me faded away, until I was completely asleep, and dreaming. The dream didn’t make sense, neither did it mean much. But I didn’t want to wake up, because it felt peaceful. I felt relaxed as all the pain I had felt before drifted away.

The End

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