You know those times when you're rushing for something – either you're late for school, or a plane, or a meeting with a friend. And you're counting down the minutes, or even seconds, because you want to save each fraction of the time you have left to make yourself less late. You just want time to slow down a little bit to let your brain adjust to the rush, rather than drag behind.

Well, maybe it's just me, I don't know. But that's how I feel right now. I want time to slow down for a few moments, just so that I can collect my thoughts and emotions.

It's a massive blur. The way that River speeds through the motorway at a hundred miles-per-hour and no slower, the way he swerves into a service station to fill up the tank for more fuel to burn, and the way he does all of this with a blank, emotionless and zoned out face. His eyes are constantly distant – even when he's looking at the road ahead, I don't think he's paying attention to the journey.

I don't bother making conversation anymore, because he either doesn't reply or gives me a absentminded nod or grunt. I decide that it's best to just leave him alone with his mind.

However, I'd be lying if I said I'm not scared at how he's acting.

Actually, I'm fucking terrified.

         After three hours on the motorway, we eventually pull up into our town of Colston. Thankfully, there isn't that much traffic, so we manage to get through the city centre in less than twenty minutes, and arrive at the hospital.

         River parks his car in the furthest parking space away from the entrance, even though there are available spaces near it. I glance at the time on the dashboard before he turns off the engine; it's two thirty in the morning. When the lights in the car fade as the engine dies, River switches on the strong yellow car light above our heads, allowing me to see his face.

         It's quite painful to watch him like this. 

         His eyes have sunken into his skull from the tiredness, evident by the grey clouds forming beneath them. His lips are chapped and dry, and glued together, unmoving and emotionless. His skin, even in this harsh yellow light, seems pale and blood-drained.

         "Are you coming down?" He asks, quietly.

         "If you want me to," I reply.

         "They might not let you into the room." He tells me.

         "I don't mind staying in the waiting area."

         He nods slowly, chewing on the inside of his mouth. Although he's facing me, his eyes aren't meeting mine, but rather staring at what's outside the window behind me.

         "Okay," he says. "Let's go."

         The odd thing about this all is the way he tries to make it sound like he's okay when evidently he isn't. I don't know, it's the strain on his tongue, pulling on each word that sort of gives away the fact that he's holding in a scream or a cry.

         Just let it out, River.

         We both get out of the car, and as usual, he waits for me to round the bonnet before we pace across the parking lot and to the hospital entrance. He doesn't hold my hand; instead, he keeps his fists buried within his trouser pockets. His head bows to the ground. We don't bother going to the reception desk this time and head straight to the elevator.

Moments after River presses the 'up' button, the elevator doors open to reveal an empty shaft. I'm slightly surprised when he twists his fingers around mine and pulls me in with him. Unhooking his fingers from my grip, he pushes a button that makes the doors slide shut before anyone else can join us. Then, after pressing the button for the seventh floor, the elevator starts to carry us upwards.

Mr. Popular and IRead this story for FREE!