Hickey(7)

By: Cora Brent



“Ask nicely,” laughed the boy as he held the club just out of her reach.

“Actually,” I grumbled. “I really think you ought to put that thing away before your line drives claim another victim.”

The girl turned around and scowled at me for spoiling the fun. Even though they didn’t live on my floor I couldn’t really kick them out. But I could order them to stop handing out concussions.

The two of them just kind of stood there gaping at me so I bent down and rolled the golf ball their way as a half hearted peace offering.

“Please,” I said, hoping I wouldn’t need to use stronger language.

The boy bent down, retrieved the golf ball, then gathered up the girl and his manners.

“Of course,” he said, “I’m really sorry.” The white-toothed smile he flashed was probably used to melting hearts and dropping panties. In fact something stuttered inside of me for a quick second but only because that smile and his shock of dark, nearly black hair reminded me of someone else.

Once the two would-be golfers were out of sight I returned to my room, added a few more drops of lemon essential oil to my diffuser and curled up with environmental economics once more.

I couldn’t concentrate. After an hour I had waded through about two paragraphs and after pinching my own arm for the fourth time I gave up and closed the lid of my laptop. I drummed my fingers on the surface and listened to the echoes in the hallway. It was only Thursday night but the restless anticipation of the weekend had already begun. Sometimes, in quiet moments like this, I wished I had more in common with the wide-eyed eighteen-year-olds who were dealing with their first dose of independence. I wished all the possibilities in life were still unknown and unexplored, that I still kept a certain priceless optimism in my heart.

I wished I didn’t know what it was like to lose everything.

“You’re not old, Cecily,” I said to the empty room. That was true. I wasn’t old in years. But I still felt like something precious was gone, something I remembered having once.

A nearby scream ripped me away from my worries. It seemed I’d heard that scream in the back of my mind, like a vague siren, but now it was much closer.

I ran into the hallway just as Saffron from Portland unleashed another painful howl. She was curled up in the arms of a hulking brute in a gray t-shirt, her pain-pinched face and purple hair the only things visible from where I stood. It didn’t seem like she was trying to get away from the guy who was carrying her so I assumed he wasn’t some wicked abductor of purple-haired girls. Since he was facing the opposite direction all I could see was his backside. Frankly I would have stopped and taken a long, appreciative look if it weren’t for all the screaming.

“Holy shit, it fucking hurts,” Saffron cried as curious faces started to pop out of doors. Saffron gestured wildly. “Oh god, Percocet, Vicodin, someone help, please!”

All of a sudden I noticed how gingerly Saffron was being carried. I also saw her feet. They looked strange; very swollen and vaguely purple.

“She jumped off the balcony,” explained a voice at my back. Saffron’s roommate, Maya, stepped up and took a casual bite of an apple. “She didn’t quite make it to the pool. Obviously.”

“Obviously,” I said, wincing over the mental image.

Yucca Hall had once been a cheap motel across the street from the university’s main campus. As the school grew, it swallowed up surrounding buildings, including the old motel, which was remodeled into student housing. There was a small balcony that jutted out on the far end of the third floor and overlooked the pool. Despite the wide stretch of concrete that needed to be cleared, the kids liked to jump into the water from there. From what I’d heard the kids usually jumped when they were drunk out of their stupid skulls so maybe there was something to that old saying that god watches over drunks and fools. At any rate, there hadn’t been any casualties of balcony diving. At least until tonight.

Saffron had stopped pleading for painkillers and was just sobbing wordlessly as she clutched her savior’s cotton t-shirt.

A somber crowd had gathered and a few of the girls reached for Saffron to comfort her. Since the hospital was only a few miles down the road I figured the best plan would be to drive her there myself rather than wait for an ambulance. Hopefully the guy who held her would be willing to carry to her to my car.

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