Truck Stop

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Chapter XXII.

When Lincoln woke up on Saturday, he could already tell how sick he was. His migraine was stronger than ever, or maybe he was just hungover. His body was so heated, even the pillow felt abnormally warm. Crawling out of bed was a bitch, and he got dressed, washed his face and brushed his teeth, and went outside. The cold stung, wind whipping at his cheeks and making his eyes water.

He ran two miles, did a workout in the park, ran another two miles and chugged water until he puked. By the time he was done, his breathing was ragged and Yong-sun still wasn’t home. Lincoln could hear rattling in his chest, but he was too numb to feel concerned.

He dragged himself to work later that night to punish himself even more. Although, as soon as he got there, his boss was waiting for him. He barely listened as he leaned against the wall for support. His boss was saying something about Lincoln not trying his hardest and they were short on money so they had to let him go. He didn’t really care as he nodded along, wondering when it would ened. He felt woozy, disoriented and unstable on his feet.

He walked back home after his boss was done. He couldn’t care less about losing his second job. It wasn’t like he needed it anymore. There were no more medical bills to pay. When he got back, Yong-sun still wasn’t home. He probably didn’t want to see Lincoln. He was a jerk, a terrible friend and the shittiest son. He wasn’t even there when his mom died.

His phone vibrated with a call, and he almost didn’t pick up until he saw the caller. “Danielle.” He greeted shortly, almost not recognizing his voice. He hadn’t used it all day, and it was raspy and gruff.

“Lincoln,” Danielle said in reply. “Listen, I hate to do this, but we can’t cover the costs of her funeral-”

“It’s fine,” Lincoln cut her off. He was already opening up PayPal on his laptop. “I’ll send you some money.” Lincoln had a bit of money in his savings account. He was saving it so his mother could live in a nursing home where she’d be taken care of 24/7. He didn’t need it anymore. Maybe he could’ve bought something for himself, since it’d been so long, but he didn’t want anything anymore. A few clicks later and the transaction was complete.

“Thanks,” Danielle said quietly. “How are you holding up?”

“Great,” Lincoln sighed. “When’s the funeral?”

“You know you can talk to me,” Danielle said, ignoring his question. “It’s not healthy to keep your feelings bottled up inside, Link.”

“Just tell me when the funeral is.”

“It’s on Wednesday,” She replied. She sounded weary and it made Lincoln want to feel bad, but he couldn’t. It felt like he was guilty about so much that he couldn’t feel any more guilt. “Do you need anything?”

Lincoln swallowed harshly, feeling tears build up that he refused to let fall. He needed to be stronger than this. But who did he need to be strong for? Nobody was talking to him right now. His mother was gone, his father left a long time ago. He didn’t have any siblings, he wasn’t close with any of his relatives. Maybe he could be weak, for once. There was no need to put up a facade.

“I need my mom.”

The days passed by. His health remained the same, maybe worse. Lincoln went to class and went to work just like any other day. The only difference was that he didn’t go to visit his mom on Sunday. He didn’t hang out with any of his friends, who were either avoiding him or were too busy for him. It didn’t matter, anyway. There was nobody he wanted to tell.

A picture of Jupiter flashed in his mind, but he buried it under all the guilt he felt for not going to the art show. Jupiter had been really excited but Lincoln had let him down. Just like he let his father down, and that’s why he left. Just like he let his mother down.

On Wednesday morning, Lincoln emerged from his room to find Yong-sun in the kitchen, eating breakfast. He stopped in his tracks at the sight of the younger boy, and Yong-sun seemed surprised to see him too, but he couldn’t conceal the look of displeasure quickly enough. Lincoln ignored him in favour of grabbing the Advil from the table, taking two dry. He adjusted his tie to lie straight and sighed heavily, heading towards the door and putting on his newly-polished shoes.

“Where are you going?” Yong-sun called, and it seemed that curiosity won out over hatred, and he just had to know.

Lincoln thought for a moment, then gave up on hiding it.

“Funeral,” He said loudly. “My mom died.”

Then he walked out the door, slamming it behind him. He jogged down the stairs and ended up wheezing once he made it to the main floor. His breath kept on getting stuck in his throat and he ended up doubling over, coughing.

“Are you alright?” A woman passing by stopped to ask. “You look very ill, you shouldn’t go out in this weather.”

“I’m fine,” Lincoln said, waving her off. He forced a smile on his face. “Thank you for your concern, but I’ll be alright. I must be going now.”

“At least take this.” She stopped him, handing him her large umbrella. It was a dark blue, matching the weather, his outfit and the occasion.

“Oh no, I really couldn’t,” Lincoln protested, but she just shoved it in his hands and stepped through the doors he just came through. He coughed again softly into his sleeve before walking outside, quickly opening up the umbrella before he got drenched. The rain poured around him as he walked to the bus station. Luckily, the bus arrived only seconds after he did, and he rode in stony silence to the city.

He took a taxi to the funeral home. The rain was pouring down harder now, as people rushed inside and took their seats. He blanked out while the people were talking. It was open-casket, and he saw his mom. She didn’t really look like she was dead. Her pallidness and sunken cheeks were results of being terminally ill. She just looked like she was sleeping.

He ignored everyone offering him their condolences. They were all distant relatives, people that never bothered to check up on him and his mother. People who were all too busy with their lives to make sure a mentally and physically ill woman and her son were doing alright.

And then he saw him.

Sure, it’d been years, but he could recognize that face anywhere. He had spent a long, long time staring at that face in photos when he was younger. The face of a man who left his son and his terminally ill wife to fend for themselves.

“What the hell are you doing here?!” Lincoln growled, storming up to him. “Who the fuck let him come?” He swiveled around wildly, glaring at anyone who was watching.

“I loved her too,” The man—he refused to acknowledge him as his father—replied stiffly.

“No you didn’t,” Lincoln seethed. “If you loved her, you wouldn’t have left us.” He could feel his uncle and his distant cousin trying to pull him away.

“You fucked up my life,” Lincoln said. He was close to tears now, and it was evident in his voice. “You weren’t there for anything. I had to do everything by myself because you. Weren’t. There.” He punctuated his last words with sharp jabs to his father’s chest. Lincoln was somewhat satisfied with the fact that he was both taller and stronger than the stern-looking, wiry-framed man.

“If I ever,” Lincoln continued. “See you near her grave, I swear to God you’ll regret it.”

“What are you gonna do? Kill me?” The man taunted, and Lincoln saw red. He couldn’t believe his mother had fallen in love with this man.

“No,” Lincoln said. “Death is too good for someone like you.” And with that, he turned around and quietly walked out, ignoring the shocked faces of the people spectating.

He wandered the streets for a while, cursing himself for not bringing the umbrella. The rain stung his skin until he went numb from the cold. He went back to the funeral home after about an hour, found out where his mother was buried and went to go visit her.

Lincoln curled up against the gravestone and cried until he couldn’t anymore. Everything hurt, his chest and bones aching like never before. He screamed as the rain poured, grasping at his hair and pulling hard, dragging his hands down his face. He felt numb and empty like this.

He didn’t know how long he sat there, crying and shivering in his suit. There was mud all over his clothes but he didn’t care. The sky was beginning to grow dark, so he attempted to climb to his feet, only to fall down seconds later. He realized, with panic blooming in his chest, that he was too weak to stand.

With numb fingers, he managed to pull his phone out of his pocket. The battery was low but it was enough for him to try calling someone, anyone. He fumbled with his phone as it rang, trying his uncle, then Danielle, then his friends. Nobody answered. Lincoln sighed and tried texting someone instead. After a moment of consideration, he tapped on Jupiter’s name in the Recents.

At grvaeyars in city

can’t get up hekp me


He stared at his phone, his mind going hazy and his vision darkening at the edges. The last thing he saw before his phone died was the message changing from Delivered to Read.

Time seemed to distort after that. Lincoln wasn’t really sure what was happening, he didn’t even know when he was awake or when he dozed off from exhaustion. He no longer felt the cold seeping into his skin anymore. Everything was warm and he wanted to sleep, but something was telling him he couldn’t.

Just let me sleep, Lincoln thought tiredly. His fingers were still clutched around his phone which was drained of battery. The screen was wet so he shoved it into the pocket of his suit jacket, though that probably wouldn’t help much. Thunder rumbled above him and there was a flash, but he didn’t have to energy to look for the lightning. He belatedly wondered if anyone was looking for him. If Jupiter was looking for him.

The thought made him shiver and curl up even tighter, his chest protesting. His breath was rattling in his lungs and he’d have random coughing fits that made everything hurt. He shut his eyes as thunder made the ground shake. The sound faded out, and when he pried his eyelids open, everything was hazy.

Am I dreaming?

He felt so tired. Maybe he was dreaming, but if he was asleep then why was he so tired? His body felt so heavy, like he was chained to an anchor and dropped into an ocean. He tried to lift his arms but he couldn’t. His eyes closed on their own, and he almost went to sleep.

“We found him!” Lincoln heard someone’s voice, or maybe he was imagining things. He couldn’t open his eyes despite how hard he tried. Everything felt weird, he wanted to go home and sleep in his warm bed.

“Link!” That was definitely a voice. He felt something startlingly warm touch his face and he tried to jerk back, but his body wouldn’t respond. “Lincoln, baby, wake up.”

It must have been an angel, calling his name. Had he died? Was he ascending to the heavens, or was he going to hell? He tried to open his eyes, catching sight of dim gray light and the silhouette of a person.

“Someone call an ambulance!” There were more voices. He thought they sounded familiar, but he wasn’t sure. He just wanted to go to sleep.

“C’mon, you have to stay awake,” The voice said. It sounded like the person was crying, and he instantly felt bad. More warmth touched him, a sharp contrast to the icy rain pounding against his skin. “Please stay awake. I love you, stay awake. We’re gonna get you to a hospital, okay?”

“I’m sorry,” Lincoln murmured softly. He was so tired. “Please don’t cry.”

And then he shut his eyes.

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