Holding On: Chapter 3
In the last chapter of willwriteforhearts' story, Alice sees a person standing in the middle of the road. We can't wait to find out what happens next!—Sparkitors
I follow her finger towards the intersection, squinting through the sheets of rain. “What are you talking about?”
“Right there, stupid. A person in the road.”
I look again, thinking I might’ve missed it. But I don't see anything.
“Stop it, Alice. You’re being obnoxious.”
It’s weird, because no matter how annoying she usually is, she doesn’t do stuff like this—I don’t think she’s imaginative enough for it. I look again, but find the road empty.
Alice stares at me as if I’ve been stricken blind. “Nick, he’s right there.” She pauses, still watching. “See? He’s waving at us!”
“Mmhmm.” Sighing, I drive forward, before she can say anything else. There’s a quick silence, and her breathing stops. Then—
“Nick! You drove over him!” She’s panicking. Real panic. She unbuckles herself and looks behind us, grabbing the chair like a lifeline. “You killed him! You killed—“
She stops, searching the road. “He’s gone.”
I roll my eyes, looking at the road ahead past the window wipers. “Yeah. Because he wasn’t there to begin with.”
She scowls in reply, but only halfheartedly, eyes flicking to the back window whenever she thinks I’m not looking, as if still searching for the invisible man. Her behavior is starting to creep me out, really, but I’m sure it’ll pass by the day’s end. She’ll go back to her quiet, moody old self.
My wheelchair clunks in the trunk as we hit a turn, impatiently reminding me of its presence.
Almost at school, Nick. Why are you so sad?
Don’t be mad at ME.
I ignore Wheelchair, wishing I had someone else, anyone else, to talk to. The attention I got after the accident has mostly died away, save for a few obnoxious stares or whispering from the freshman. I haven’t talked to my friends in a long time, but that’s my own fault. After the crash, they’d showered me with support and gifts and advice—but they’d started to be so careful around me. They would accidentally say something like “Let’s take a walk,” and then spend days apologizing for their insensitivity. I couldn't stand their pity; I wanted them to treat me as if nothing had changed. But when I told them that, the words came out wrong...
So now I don’t have any friends. I’m only halfway through senior year and I’m counting the days until summer. You know how they say “time heals all”? Well, the opposite has been true since I blew up at my friends at the end of last year. I’m sorry for what I said, to tell you the truth, but I feel like it’s too late to tell them that. Too late and too hard. To forgive them. To forgive myself. Because in the end, I’d still be the boy in the wheelchair.
And they’d always pity me for that.
When I get into the English room, it’s only partially full. Most are still outside in the halls, talking, but a few of the loners or nerds have trickled their way to their seats. As I roll toward my usual corner, I feel someone bang into the back of my chair, sending me flying face forward onto cold tiles.
An extremely nervous face flies into view, shaking erratically.
“S-sorry! I-I didn’t, wasn’t paying attention!”
I grumble, trying to pull myself back into my chair, flailing a bit before grudgingly letting this stuttering stranger help me up. He seems terrified of me, which is strange, considering the circumstances.
“S-sorry, I just wasn’t looking!” He stares at me, wide-eyed and fearful.
“ It’s okay—“
“No really! I’m always making mistakes and accidents and stuff and—“
He cuts himself off, spreading a thin, slightly crooked smile over his face. “I-I’m Timothy,” he says.
“Nice to meet you, Nick. I’m sorry again for—“
“If you say sorry again, I’ll punch you.”
“Oh, uh, s—I mean, yes, Nick.” Timothy talks to me like he’s addressing a general, and I laugh impulsively. Looking at me, nervously happy, he nods, as if my laugh was a statement. “I’m new. It’s nice to meet someone…”
“Sure. Yeah.” I grow indifferent again.
Smiling earnestly, Timothy walks off, grinning awkwardly back at me.
Huh. That was almost… normal. In a weird, uncomfortable sort of way. A good weird, I think, and I’m almost glad I still retain the ability to be annoyed with someone. I slide into my desk, my mind already numb from the sound of the rain pounding on the window.
I’m scared. I can’t be imagining things! Don’t you know if you’re going crazy? Isn’t it something that… you know… happens slowly?
What is he?
The guy on the road is inked on my brain. There was something about him… I shiver just thinking about his figure, obscured by the rain. Maybe I was looking at something else. Maybe it was… a sunspot? From looking at a light for too long? But what light? And sunspots don’t wave.
But if the man I'd seen was real, why Nick hadn’t seen him too? When I’d told him to stop driving, he was genuinely annoyed. And when we’d gone over him, there were no blood-spattered remains, no impact, no nothing. He was just… gone.
I absentmindedly step into a puddle, grimacing as it seeps through my shoes. My reflection wavers below me, shading my skin to a dull gray. I wish I didn’t have to walk home… but I’m not really up to facing Nick after what happened. It’d be too embarrassing.
What are you supposed to say to a little sister who’s seeing things? But I’m not! Am I?
I rub my forehead, stepping forward—and there is he again.
I’m frozen, staring at him with huge, goldfish eyes. He's older than me, that much I can tell. And he's real.
Neither of us moves.
Our eyes meet and I’m ice. Every nerve in my body is ready to explode. We’re both waiting for something—I can tell by the way he stands, by the way the air has thickened into a wall, by the way my hearts thumps maddeningly my ears.
I feel myself fly across the pavement soundlessly, filling my thoughts with nothingness. I can’t think. I don’t want to think. Because I’m afraid that if I do, he''ll catch me.
Don’t think. Run.
I force myself blank, filling my head with the echos of my gasps and the command to go faster...
We're on the edge of our seats! Is Alice going crazy?
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