Made for You Page 23

“I’m hurt,” I force out of lips that feel oddly numb. It’s not that cold, but numb is the best word I know for this feeling. It’s kind of like that tingling when you drink too much but aren’t blacking out yet. I wasn’t drinking, haven’t in over a year. Hiding in a keg or bottle isn’t going to make anything better, and I need to be strong for Aaron.

The person from the car is beside me, but he—or she—isn’t speaking. I can see jeans and tennis shoes, but when I look up, I can’t see a face. It’s there, but I can’t focus on any details. It’s like a white fuzzy space where the features should be. My eyes can’t focus there.

I’m shaking, and I think that maybe it wasn’t the cold making me shiver when I got out of the truck. The person takes my phone, and I’m grateful that he or she is going to help me call for help.

“Call my mom,” I say.

My legs are shaking too, and I hit the ground. I’m sitting in a puddle of vomit. The person opens a bottle of what looks like Mad Dog 20/20, grabs my chin with a gloved hand, and tilts my head back. The alcohol pours into my mouth faster than I can swallow, and it spills down my shirt.

He takes my hand and wraps it around the bottle, and my muscles are too weak to put up much of a fight. I try, but it’s about as effective as a toddler resisting a parent. My phone hits the asphalt beside me hard enough that the screen cracks, and I watch a blurry shape come down on it to stomp on it.

“Eva?” His voice, Nate’s voice, draws me back into this moment. I am shaking all over, so cold that I can’t speak at first. I don’t know how or why I hallucinate like this, but I feel like my whole body is icy when it happens.

I yank my hand away from Nate.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry.” Nate folds his hands together, pointedly not touching me now, and asks, “Is it the hand sanitizer? It burns in cuts. I know that. I just wasn’t thinking.”

“No.”

After a few quiet moments pass, Nate asks, “You’re shaking.”

“I’m okay,” I lie.

It’s not like I have any other options that make sense. How do I say “either I’m hallucinating or I somehow saw your death”? I can’t. I’m not overly superstitious, but I’ve always sort of thought that it might not be a bad idea to go along with the ones that are easy to manage. I don’t step on dead folks’ graves; I don’t walk under ladders. I toss a pinch of salt over my shoulder to avoid bad luck; I only pick up pennies on the sidewalk if they’re faceup. I’m not very fond of Friday the thirteenth, or really any thirteens, and I know that someday when I get married I will be wearing something blue, something borrowed, something old, and something new. For now, I stay clear of catching any bouquets at weddings, but I do stand in the group of girls and women. I may not be ready, but I don’t want to risk being an old maid either.

My mind is still running over my tiny harmless superstitions when Nate asks, “Do you need a nurse?”

“No.” I sniffle, and he hands me the box of tissues. I dab at the tears on my face, wincing a little as I get too near one of the unstitched cuts.

“Okaaay. . . . Tell me what’s going on here because you were shivering and staring blankly, and right now, you look like you’ve been out on the slopes too long.” He pulls off his sweatshirt and puts it on my lap like a blanket.

I smile at him and reach out to touch his hand, but he pulls back before I do.

“Eva, you need to tell the doctors if—”

“It’s okay,” I interrupt. “They know.”

I repeat the lie again because I don’t know what else to say. I’m not okay. I’m hallucinating, scarred, and in a wheelchair. I’m really, really not okay.

We sit quietly for a moment until Nate says, “Do you want to turn on the news?”

“If you want.”

Nate rolls his eyes. “I bet you still watch it for hours.”

“Whatever.” I can’t argue though. It’s true. I don’t know why I like the news so much, but I follow bunches of news feeds online, and since I’ve been in here, I’ve watched everything from CNN to the Weather Channel to the local news on WRAL—even though it was mostly about the Raleigh–Durham area.

Nate reaches over and pushes some buttons on the remote, and the words fill the room. I’m not really watching it—Nate distracts me by simply breathing—but then I hear: “. . . and over in Jessup, seventeen-year-old Michelle ‘Micki’ Adams was killed in a car crash in the Jackson Road area. The accident happened early this morning when the Adams’ car overturned after going over an embankment. Indications here at the site”—the camera pans around the area, where skid marks are visible, and small bits of debris from the accident glitter in the sun—“are that Adams attempted to stop her descent after what appears to be a collision with an unknown car, but was unable to do so. She was rushed to Mercy Hospital in Durham, but was pronounced dead on arrival at 4:41 a.m., a spokesman for the hospital said. Police officials say that an investigation is ongoing, but are not commenting further at this time.”

“No!” My hand tightens on his. Tears race down my cheeks. We’ve known Micki since we were in elementary school.

“Adams is the second Jessup teenager who has been rushed to Mercy Hospital in recent weeks. Eva Elizabeth Tilling, daughter of winery heiress Elizabeth Tilling née Cooper, was—” The broadcast cuts off abruptly as Nate clicks the remote again, stopping the horrible words.

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