"No, I've got to be here for a bit longer."
"I thought you were off this weekend?" She sounds so disappointed.
"I am. I mean, I technically am. But I need to pick up a file from my boss's office and the person I'm picking it up from isn't here yet, so I'm waiting."
"Do you want to do something while you're off?"
"I don't know. I just...I don't know. I think maybe this isn't really working and it's not anything you've done or anything about you because you're great, but-"
"Wow. OK. Forget I asked."
Fuck. I'm not good at this. I've never been good at this. "Look, Althea, I-"
"Don't. Please don't. Just leave it, OK? I don't want to get into this and it doesn't matter."
"It does. It-"
"No, it doesn't. Let's just go our separate ways on good terms or whatever, alright?"
"Jesus, fine, whatever. I'm sorry."
"Don't be. Just...don't. Bye, Mercy."
I hang up and I swear to god I'm so fucking done. I don't have the patience for this shit anymore. I don't think I ever really had the patience for it to start with, but I definitely don't now. I roll down the window for some air and there's a guy on the bench outside, looking totally fucked. I've seen him before when I've been picking Audrey up and he always looks kind of fucked, but nothing like this. I don't want to give a shit, but I can't not do anything, so I get out to go check on him.
Close up, he doesn't look as old as I thought. Maybe my age, maybe even a bit younger. He's a mess, sweating and shivering, and when I ask him his name he can't get the words out, so I ask him if there's anyone I can call for him and he shakes his head. I tell him my name and there's a moment when he kind of smiles, or he looks like he's trying to, then he closes his eyes. Fuck. I call an ambulance and I don't know if he's going to still be alive when it gets here. There's nothing to do but wait.
There's a feeling about people when they know they're dying. It's not always the same feeling because it depends on the person and the situation, but there's definitely a feeling. With some people, it's anger or confusion. With others, it's fear. But with some of them, it's just a quiet acceptance, like they're ready for it. It's like that with him, like he wants to go home. Maybe I'm fucking with that and I should've let it happen and not called anyone, but that isn't what you do, is it? You don't just sit there and watch someone breathe their last unless you're causing it, and it's not the time to be thinking about that.
"It's going to be alright. There's an ambulance on the way and they're going to take you to hospital and look after you. Just hang in there and you'll be fine." I don't know if I believe what I'm saying, but it feels like the right thing to say even if you think the person isn't going to be alright. Maybe someone said that to me sometime, but I don't remember. It doesn't matter.The ambulance comes and takes him and I go back to the car to wait for Arden. She's not late. I'm early.
YOU ARE READING
Winter FollowsGeneral Fiction
One month, one city, five lives colliding with the forces of fate. A thrill-seeking tech genius with an appetite for dangerous extremes. A retired contract killer fighting to escape his past and himself. An underworld driver tempted deeper into a li...