Chapter 13 | The Storm
“Connor what the hell!” I drunkenly yelled.
“What babe? You’re obviously drunk and I didn’t want you to ruin your reputation by everyone thinking you’ve cheated on me... which you haven’t, right?” He asked. He looked as though he already knew the answer deep down, but I assumed he didn’t want everyone to know about it at his birthday party.
“I, uh... have to use the bathroom.” I quickly said, turning on my heels and walking towards the stairs.
Immediately I heard people’s whispers, but I ignored them.
I felt as though someone were following me to the bathroom, but I didn’t turn around to see who.
“I said I have to use the bathroom.” I replied, without turning around.
“Just stop, please.”
I turned around before nearing the bathroom door and saw Callie.
My eyes immediately began to water. I pressed my back to the hallway wall and slid down, sitting on the floor, crossing my legs over one another.
Callie was instantly by my side, putting her arm over my shoulders.
“What were you thinking Naveah?” She softly asked.
“It’s Mark, Callie. I just want Mark.” I sighed, sobbing softly against her shoulder.
Callie let out a deep sigh. “But why now? During Connor’s party? In front of everyone? You should have at least told him privately, and sober, without all of his peers around.”
“I just couldn’t keep my feelings inside anymore. I don’t know what I am doing or who I even am anymore. Everything is so messed up.” I sobbed some more.
“Personally, I think you need to give up Mark and Connor. Because you can’t have one without the other hating you. I think you need to break up with Connor if you don’t have feelings for him anymore, but you need to leave Mark alone for everyone else’s sake. I think it would be better for everyone. If you don’t tell anyone else about you and Mark, especially Connor, maybe there is a chance you and Connor could still be friends.” She said reassuringly.
“Naveah! Callie!” Callie and I whipped our heads around to the sound of Connor and Mark yelling towards us.
“What’s going on?” Callie asked, instantly feeling worried.
“It’s Lucy’s mom!” That was all Callie and I needed to hear.
We immediately got up and rushed towards the stairs.
I came face to face with Connor. “Connor I-“, but he cut me off. “We’ll talk later.”
All I could do was nod. I followed everyone down the stairs and we saw Lucy trying to fight Red for his car keys.
“Red come on! This isn’t just anyone, this is my mom! Give me the damn keys!” Lucy screamed.
“No Lucy! You’ve been drinking! You can’t drive like this. None of us can!” Red tried to reason with her.
“Lucy, calm down, tell me what happened.” I grabbed Lucy by her shoulders and tried to calm her down a little.
“Naveah! My mom, she... she... our house...” She sobbed, her eyes red and puffy. “I need to get to the hospital!”
My eyes widened upon realizing the seriousness of the situation. Everyone at the party is currently intoxicated and we could call a cab, but it would take forever on a Friday night.
“Okay everyone! Party is over! Please start exiting the building in an orderly fashion!” Mark yelled over the crowd and music.
“You heard the man! Get the heck out of my house!” Callie yelled, fed up with this party.
Eventually everyone started leaving, one by one or in groups. Some had rides home, and others had to walk.
“Okay, we need to figure out a way to quickly get to the hospital.” I said, trying to think of anyone I could possibly call. I couldn’t call my parents because they are still out of town. Mark’s mom is probably already drunk and I assume Connor’s parents are asleep. Callie’s parents aren’t home either due to their trip, so we are literally sitting ducks.
“I haven’t had anything to drink tonight.” A female voice said. We all looked towards the voice and I scowled when I saw Marissa smirking.
“How are we supposed to believe you?” I said.
“Because, I have no reason to lie and I wouldn’t purposely put any lives in any real danger. I’m not a monster.” She shrugged.
“What do you drive? Can you fit all of us in your car?” Mark asked, making me feel a little angry at their encounter.
How did Marissa even get here? I know I didn’t invite her.
“Sure, my white Hummer is outside.” She smiled, pulling her car keys from her white clutch.
I sighed, but I couldn’t be too angry with her for crashing the party. If she weren’t here right now, we would all still be stuck.
“Alright, let’s go!” Lucy begged, pulling me by my arm.
We all squeezed into Marissa’s Hummer and were finally off to the hospital.
“I can’t believe this. I go out one night to have fun, and this happens. I knew I should have stayed home.” Lucy cried from beside me.
“Don’t worry Luc; your mom will be okay I’m sure of it.” I tried to console my best friend.
After ten minutes of trying to talk Lucy off the ledge of sanity, we finally arrived at the hospital.
“Thanks Marissa.” Lucy sniffled as she got out of the car.
“Don’t mention it.” Was her only reply.
Everyone got out of the car, and Marissa drove off.
Red had his arm over Callie, Mark had his arm over Lucy, and Connor walked about ten steps ahead of me, not bothering at all to try to comfort me. I don’t blame him.
“Yes hi, my mother was brought here by ambulance about thirty minutes or so ago. Her name is Margaret Kiser, I’m her daughter Lucy.” Lucy told the ER receptionist.
“Please wait in the waiting area and a nurse will be out shortly to take you to your mother.”
Lucy sighed and rolled her eyes as she turned on her heels and walked over to the waiting area.
“She’s going to be okay Luc.” Mark said, sitting down next to her and pulling her to his side.
Callie sat down next to Red, and Connor sat down on the other side of Red, away from me.
I sighed and sat down on the other side of Lucy.
“So, are we going to talk about what’s going on between you two?” Lucy suddenly asked, probably trying to take her mind off her mother.
“We can discuss it later.” Connor said in a cold tone, not once looking at me.
“Yeah, that’s not important right now.” I said, trying to pretend as if I didn’t care about Connor’s attitude towards me, but it honestly bothered me. I know it is my own fault, but I still wished it didn’t have to be this way. I care about Connor. It may not seem as though I do, based off my actions, but he does mean a lot to me and I don’t want to totally lose him altogether. I would like us to be friends, though I know that may just be wishful thinking.
“Lucy Kiser.” An older woman with dark brown hair announced from the receptionist desk.
Lucy immediately shot up, practically sprinting towards the nurse.
“The doctor would like to speak with you privately.” She said, a weird expression on her face. It seemed as though she were masking an emotion with another.
“C-Can I have one person with me...” She pleaded.
“Just one, I suppose.” The nurse slightly smiled.
“Naveah...” Lucy said, looking back at me.
My heart sunk to my feet. “Of course.” Was all I said, before following Lucy and the Nurse towards the back.
When we finally reached the doctor, he looked up at us with an expressionless face.
“Lucy Kiser?” He asked. Lucy nodded.
“And who’s this?” He looked to me.
“She’s family.” Lucy smiled to me.
Stop with the feels, Luc.
“Well, Lucy... I have some devastating news.” He said, causing my stomach to drop.
Lucy immediately latched her hand onto my own, and I could already feel her shaking.
“Due to breathing complications and the amount of smoke your mother inhaled, plus with the multiple fourth and fifth degree burns to her face and arms, I am so sorry to say that she did not make it.” He said in a bored tone. I wanted to slap him in the face for his lack of empathy towards Lucy and her mother.
Lucy began shaking some more, and in a split second, she collapsed onto the floor. I was just barely able to react in time, wrapping my arms around her waist and falling to the floor with her.
“Oh Lucy...” I softly whispered.
Lucy began sobbing loudly, burying her head into her hands.
“Mommy...” Lucy said in between sobs. “No, not my mom... no, please...”
“Lucy, it’s going to be okay.” I tried to calm her down, but it was no use. It wasn’t going to be okay, not for a very long time, possibly not ever.
After a few minutes, I was finally able to pick Lucy up off the floor.
“I want to see her.” Lucy demanded into thin air.
“Of course.” The doctor said, still standing there watching Lucy’s whole world fall apart.
I put my arm around Lucy’s shoulders and walked with her as we followed the doctor to the exam room.
The machines were turned off and a couple nurses were cleaning everything up.
I looked to the hospital bed, and saw that her mother’s body has been covered with a white sheet.
Lucy slowly walked towards the bed, stopping just next to her mother’s face.
She turned around and faced the doctor and nurses. “Privacy?”
The doctor and nurses nodded, quietly leaving the room.
She slowly raised her hands and very gently pulled the blanket back.
Immediately she began whaling loudly. “No mom!” She screamed looking at her mother’s burned face.
I tried my best not to look, but I did. My mouth went dry and my face turned white. It started to feel hard to breathe as I slowly sat down in the small chair that sat in the far corner of the room.
The doctor told us that the paramedics found Lucy’s mother in the kitchen on the floor upon entering her house. Maria was sleeping upstairs, and thought that Lucy’s mother was sleeping too. From what the paramedics told the doctor, Lucy’s mom decided to go into the kitchen to cook some food. Her mother was in one of her flashback modes and probably thought she was someone else. The paramedics said they assumed Lucy’s mother fell asleep at the kitchen counter and that is when the fire started.
The kitchen was already in flames before the smoke traveled up the stairs and to Maria’s room, so she immediately dialed 911 and tried to find Margaret before exiting the house. Maria couldn’t even get down the stairs due to how much smoke consumed the house. All she could do was sit and wait for the fire department to show up. When the fire department did show up, however, it was already too late. The combination of the smoke and the burns were too much for Margaret, and it took her life.
The doctor told us that Maria is currently in the ICU under observation, due to breathing complications, but as of right now it seems as though she will recover.
“Why mom... why did you have to cook tonight? Why couldn’t you have just stayed asleep?” Lucy pleaded, though she knew she would never get any answers.
I slowly got up and walked over to her helpless form, while she leaned over onto her mother’s bed.
“Lucy...” I softly said. “They need to take the body now. We can discuss her funeral later.”
“What am I going to do Naveah? My mother was all I had. I can’t afford to live in my house with a Wendy’s salary. My mom was only able to pay the mortgage due to her insurance policies, but I just... I don’t know what to do.” She cried.
“We will figure everything out Lucy, but for right now you deserve time to just grieve. I will take care of everything, all right? I promise.” I said, trying my best to consul my devastated best friend.
Lucy stepped away from her mother’s bed as the nurses began wheeling the bed away.
“I love you mom...” Lucy whispered as she watched them take her mother away.
I immediately pulled Lucy in for a hug, holding her tightly. “We will get through this.”
“You can stay at my place Lucy, for as long as you need to.” I tried to smile, but couldn’t bring myself to.
“Thank you Naveah. I don’t know what I would do without you.” She said against my shoulder, and I honestly wanted to cry.
I cannot believe how selfish I have been.
Here is my best friend, has been for four years, and I am doing her so wrong. The one person you are always supposed to be there for is your best friend. Through difficult times, and the easy ones. I let my own selfish feelings for Mark get in the way of that, and I couldn’t feel even more worse than I already do right in this one moment.
I decided at that moment that I could never be with Mark. Not now, not ever. I need to save my relationship with Lucy and this is the only way I know how. It may break my heart, not being with Mark, but I have to do this for Lucy. She needs me right now more than ever, and I can’t betray her like this.
“I’m going to get some coffee and go sit with Maria while I finish sobering up. I’m going to stay with her for tonight and I will come over in the morning. I’ll call a cab. Oh crap, the others! I can’t face them right now without breaking down.” Lucy started to cry again, but I gave her another hug and told her I would take care of the others and let them know what is going on and what Lucy needs from them.
“I love you Naveah.” Lucy said, before pulling away and walking towards the cafeteria.
“I love you too, Luc.” I said with a frown, watching my best friend prepare to go through the hardest time of her entire life.
I wrapped my own arms around my waist and began walking towards the ER waiting area.
I took in a deep breath before walking through the double-doors and turning to face everyone in the waiting area.
“Naveah, where’s Lucy?” Callie immediately asked.
“Is everything okay?” Connor asked.
“How is her mom doing?” Mark softly wondered.
“Guys... please.” I said, trying my best to hold back the tears.
“Naveah, what’s going on?” Callie asked sternly.
“Margaret has... has p-passed away.” I softly muttered.
Callie’s hands instantly went over her mouth as she began crying for Lucy. Mark and Connor looked mad, though I know that’s the first emotion guys usually turn to whenever something serious happens to someone close. Red didn’t really know Lucy too well, and has never actually met her mother, but he genuinely looked sad and concerned for Lucy while pulling Callie into this chest to comfort her.
“What exactly happened?” Mark asked.
“She um, she woke up in the middle of the night, probably having one of her episodes and she decided she wanted to cook. Maria was asleep, and didn’t hear Margaret go down the stairs. From what the paramedics said, Margaret fell asleep in the kitchen and that’s when a fire broke out. She suffered major fourth and fifth degree burns on her face and arms, and inhaled a very large amount of smoke. She passed away due to the burns and breathing complications. Maria told the paramedics that the flames were too severe for her to get downstairs to Margaret, so she had to sit upstairs until the fire department got to the house.” I explained everything.
“How is Maria doing?” Callie managed to ask through crying.
“She didn’t suffer any burns, but she did inhale a lot of smoke too. She’s in the ICU being monitored. Lucy is going to sit with her for the night and come over to my place in the morning. She asked that you all give her this time alone with Maria and that she loves all of you. You will be able to come visit with her tomorrow once she is set up at my place. I’m going to help her with the arrangements and everything.” I sighed, feeling incredibly drained from this horrible night.
I opened my clutch and pulled out a hair tie, pulling my hair up into a messy bun.
“I was able to get ahold of my mom, so she’s going to give us all a ride home.” Connor said, sticking his phone back into his pocket.
“You guys go... I’m going to walk home.” I said, starting to head towards the front doors of the ER.
“Naveah let us give you a ride.” Connor said.
“No, it’s okay. I just need to be alone right now.” I mumbled. Callie walked over to me and gave me a hug.
“We will get through this.” She whispered, and I smiled since that was the exact same thing that I said to Lucy.
“I know.” I whispered.
I noticed Mark watching me from the corner of my eye, but I didn’t bother looking directly at him. I couldn’t. Connor gave me a sad smile, and Red just waved goodbye to which I returned the gesture.
I left the ER and started walking home. It would be around a twenty-minute walk, give or take a few minutes.
I used this time to really think about everything. About Connor, about Mark, about Lucy and Callie, about my life and what I want from it... just everything.
I know in my heart that I want to be with Mark, but I can’t at the expense of losing Lucy. She has been there for me through a lot and I can’t just do this to her, especially now. I’m not sure what losing her mom is going to do to her emotionally or physically, but I do know that I need to be there for her every step of the way. Whatever she needs, I have to be there.
I’m also glad that I have Callie there to listen to my thoughts about everything. She is such an amazing friend, and I know that if Lucy and I were to stop speaking... Callie wouldn’t hesitate to try and be there for both of us. It would be hard though, to put her in that kind of position. Stuck in between two friends who you care about equally. It wouldn’t be fair at all.
Then there is Connor. Connor and I have been through every up and down you could possibly imagine, but in the end, those feelings I had before just aren’t there anymore and I can’t keep pretending that they are. It’s not fair to him or to anyone else. I love Connor, as a friend and as a person... he’s amazing and sweet and he will literally break his back for anyone in need, but I just can’t pretend that we are the perfect couple anymore.
I know I need to be strong for Lucy right now, and by doing so, that means also being a good friend to her. As hard as it may be, I know what I need to do and I am going to do it fast.
I need to break up with Connor, and forget about Mark.
I need to let go of them both, for the sake of our group. It won’t be pretty, it’s going to get ugly and messy... but at the end of the day, I just want everything to be peaceful and manageable.
Whatever that may be.
When I finally got home, I took a nice long shower and then laid down in bed. I turned my phone off to escape the world, and I slowly let sleep consume me.