Rae has never particularly liked David. He has never given her any reason to like him. In her opinion, David is a generally unlikeable person. Maybe it has something to do with the way he asked her best friend, Aly, out. Not asked, told.
David has never really understood why his girlfriend's best friend didn't like him. It doesn't particularly bother him, but it wasn't like he did anything to make her not like him. Maybe she just didn't like that he was spending so much time with her best friend. Maybe she thought he was stealing her away...
It's 7:15 a.m.
“Aly,” Rae says as they walk down John Street, “Don't you think that maybe you should dump him?”
The short redhead girl looks up at her best friend in disbelief. “Why would you say something like that?” she asks, “I love him.”
Rae shakes her head. “Sure you do.” Aly doesn't love him, and he definitely doesn't love her. As the cool autumn wind caresses her face, she wishes that Aly will come to her senses before she gets hurt.
David is perched on the green fence that surrounds the play park. His jacked almost blends in with the fence. The sun hasn’t cleared the mountain yet but it already lights up the grey sky. He is the only one at the bus stop and the bus will be here soon. He wishes his dad didn’t have to borrow his truck today. Normally he would have been picking up Aly and Rae by now. He found it funny that Aly didn’t seem to notice how much Rae disliked him.
Over on Robertson Street at the corner of John Street, a driver slams on his brakes.
When David first met Aly, she was a small, self conscious little girl who hid behind her books. The only one who could ever get her out of her shell even a little bit was Rae. David promised himself he would be the one to get her to come out completely. After two years of watching and waiting, he made his move. “You’re my girlfriend now,” he had blurted out. In his head he groaned. That was not what he had planned. Luckily, Aly seemed not to care. She blushed a delicate shade of pink and said “OK.”
After that that they were hardly ever seen apart. They did everything together with Rae, sometimes forgotten, in the background. Rae hated it. She hated to see her best friend ‘falling into his clutches,’ as she sometimes said.
Now, for the first time ever, Rae wishes David was there to help her.
It’s now 7:36 a.m. and Rae is in the back of the ambulance, her face pale and tears streaming down her face, watching the life drain out of her best friend. The doctor swoops in and starts CPR, his face fierce with concentration. He will not let this girl die.
David has arrived at school and he is looking for Aly. When it is obvious that she isn’t here, he tries to call her. She doesn’t answer, so he calls Rae. “Where are you guys?” he asks when she answers. “At the hospital,” she answers her voice hoarse and shaky.
“Why?” he responds, “what happened.”
Rae whimpers on her end of the phone. “Rae, are you alright?” David asks.
Rae takes a deep breath. “Yes, I fine, but Aly… he hit her David. I don’t think she’s going to be OK.”
The blood rushes out of David’s face. “What do you mean? Who hit her? Why isn’t she OK?” Images of Aly, bloody and broken flash in front of his eyes. “Rae, tell me she’s going to be OK,” he says, his voice now taking on a desperate tone.
On her end of the phone, Rae bursts into tears. “I can’t. I don’t know. The truck came out of nowhere. They’re trying to fix her right now, but I don’t know if they can. She looked pretty bad, David.”
“I’m coming—I’m going to…I’ll,” David stammers into the phone. Rae swallows her tears and attempts to calm herself down. “I’ll wait for you in the lobby,” she tells him, and the strength of her voice surprises her. David nods then realizes Rae can’t see him. “Alright,” he says, and he hangs up. He shoves the cell phone in his pocket and looks to his friend Tyler who had been watching him with worried eyes. “Can I borrow your keys,” he asks, and Tyler hands them over without question.
It’s 7:50 a.m. when David pulls into the ER parking lot. He parks the car sloppily across two parking spaces and just about runs into the lobby where Rae is waiting for him. She has her arms folded across her chest and a blank look in her eyes. The sight of her seems to calm him. “Rae,” he calls, and her eyes snap up to meet his. She waves him over and he weaves his way through the ugly plastic chairs and fake plants that crowd the room. “Where’s Aly?” he asks, his eyes pleading.
Rae bites her lip before answering. “In the ICU,” she says quietly. “I heard them say there is something wrong with her legs. I think she might be paralyzed.”
David’s jaw clenches but he just nods.
It’s 12 p.m. and Aly is in the recovery room. Her parents have since arrived and the doctors assure them that she will be waking up shortly. David and Rae are sitting in the ugly plastic chairs next to a potted fake tree. David is humming tunelessly under his breath and Rae is nibbling a cracker a nurse offered her and staring blindly at the wall. They haven’t been allowed to see Aly yet, and David is growing impatient.
Finally at 12:45 they are allowed to see her. Aly’s parents leave the room and head to the cafeteria, obviously satisfied that their daughter is fine. Aly is lying on a hospital bed, one that adjusts with the touch of a button on a remote control. Her face is scratched, her arms a bandaged, and her legs are covered by a comfortable-looking green blanket. She manages a small smile when she sees them. “Hi guys,” she croaks.
Neither Rae nor David smile and hers quickly vanishes. She sighs and bites her lower lip, all pretences gone. “I forget that you aren’t like my parents and can see strait through me,” she says. David takes the seat by the bed and Rae takes the one by the window. “What did the doctor say, Aly?” Rae asks.
“Well,” she replied, but her voice falters. She clears her throat and tries again. “He said… he told me I probably won’t be able to walk again.”
The last wall drops and her green eyes fill with tears. David sits beside her in shock, and Rae’s face stays blank. When David speaks, it surprises her. “Why would you need to walk if I can carry you?”
Rae’s eyes snap to his face and her brow creases. Aly gives him a small watery smile. “If you say so, David.”
Aly thinks he’s joking, but Rae knows he’s serious, and that confuses her. David isn’t a good person. That belief has been stamped firmly in her mind for the longest time, but seeing him like this creates little cracks in it. Her mind is whirring, trying to make sense of this.
It’s 2:30 p.m. and Rae is in Tyler’s car with David. They don’t bother to go back to school. “Where to?” David asks her. She shrugs. “My house, I guess.”
After they had left Aly’s room, the doctor had pulled them aside and told them about her legs. He told them she might regain partial use of her legs in the future but she won’t ever walk again. Even though Rae had already guessed that, it was still like a blow to the chest. After the bad news, the doctor tells them that she might be fit for release by the end of the week.
David drops her off in front of her house, and the cool autumn wind ruffles her jacket. When she gets to the door, she does something she’s never done before. She turns and waves goodbye to David. If it surprises him, it doesn’t show. He nods and pulls away from the curb.
Rae sighs then goes inside.