Twice In One Night
“Keep your eyes open… please… stay with me…” I plead holding onto the ambulance stretcher.
Peyton and Tyler’s cries drowned out by the sirens. Flashes of color whirl around me, striking my vision. I watch Paisley’s barely conscious body going into the back of the ambulance.
“Sir, are you family?” One of the attending ambulance people ask.
If I say no, they won’t let me see her and I won’t get any updates. If I say yes, I still won’t be able to go in the ambulance with her, because there isn’t enough room for all of us.
I can’t just leave the kids like this either… after seeing what I hate to imagine they saw. Ty’s trying to comfort Peyton, but I can see it in his face that he’s about to fall apart too.
“Sir?” he asks a little impatient.
“Uhh… yeah, yeah. I am. But they can’t come in it can they?” I nod towards the kids.
“Unfortunately, not.” He answers more solemnly. The other attending working on Paisley in the back.
The Police bring her out of the house, restrained by handcuffs. Her face is manic and deranged. I don’t even recognise the woman in front of me anymore. They put her in the back of the patrol car, the lights still flashing and shinning on the surrounding houses.
Neighbors all stand on their front lawns watching everything. A few old couples dressed in their evening gowns and slippers. They’re definitely having a better night than I am right now.
“Where’re you taking her?” I ask as one officer walks over.
“Edgewater.” He answers briefly moving around to the driver’s side.
The hospital twice in a matter of a few hours, I think that’s a record.
My body moves absentmindedly, the events of tonight still so surreal. I think I’m in a state of shock or something.
“Mr Woods, we’re going to need to get a statement from you and Miss Evans with a guardian or support person present. We’ll be in contact very soon.” He spurs out like an automated voicemail.
I nod and turn around. The sirens of the ambulance still echoing through the street, though I can’t see them anymore. The patrol car pulling out and leaving in the same direction as the ambulance.
How did I let this happen?
Walking over numbly to Ty’s and Peyton’s tear-stained and blotchy faces, I pull them both into a hug. Crushing their bodies against mine.
Both of them breakdown in my arms, their tears soaking through my shirt. Each teardrop is like a sharp sting of a whip against my skin.
“Shhh… it’s over now. You’re safe.” My voice is low and ready to break.
I can’t. I need to be strong for them. I need to be strong for Paisley.
Ty’s arms squeeze tighter around me and sobs wreak havoc over his body, shaking with hiccups.
He doesn’t deserve to be put through this; to see his sister be treated like that. Peyton doesn’t deserve to see any more of that. She’s been through enough.
Paisley didn’t deserve what happened to her either. She’s going through enough with her parents as it is, she doesn’t need my bullshit on top of it. No one needs to deal with my shit but me.
Neither Paisley or Ty needs to be in the middle of this and they are. I was stupid to think nothing would happen. That she wouldn’t find out one day. It’s definitely not the way I wanted her to find out, I didn’t even want her to find out.
Everything I’ve gone through may be nothing compared to what others might’ve been through, or are still going through, but fuck it’s messed me up.
Paisley deserves so much better. Someone better.
Someone who isn’t as fucked up as me. Someone who can be completely open with her; give themselves to her completely. I can’t do that. Not now.
I have too many of my own problems to think I can help her with hers without losing it. I can barely focus enough to earn enough money to pay off this fucking debt!
Standing back up, my knees welcome the movement gratefully. “Hop in the car,”
They do as their told and buckle up, still wiping the last of their tears from their faces, though fresh ones keeping flowing.
Starting the car, I type a quick text out to Frasier.
Xavier: Hey man got a problem. Be at yours in 10
Not waiting for his reply, I head over to his house.
Frasier’s the only one who really knows the full story about what I’ve gone through. He’s been there for me from the start, no one else has managed to get it out of me. No one else has been there from the very start.
It’s not that I don’t trust my friends or anything because I know they’ll have my back if I need it like I’ll always have theirs. It’s just easier for me to keep it all behind me and deal with it myself.
Look what happened when I let Paisley and Ty get too close, they got hurt. They didn’t even know anything!
Ten minutes later I’m pulling into Frasier’s driveway, the kids still awake and eerily too quiet.
Frasier’s already waiting outside in sweats and a hoodie. Quickly, I get the kids out and we all shuffle up the front porch of his modern contemporary house.
“What happened?” His questions start immediately.
The frown on his forehead only deepening when he looks at Tyler and Peyton’s distraught states.
“Can they stay here for a bit?” I ignore his question.
He nods still even more hesitant to know what’s going on.
“Yeah, yeah. The spare room’s all set up. Here,” He leads us in, shutting the door behind us and guiding them up the stairs to the spare room that I’ve stayed in my fair share of times.
I pick Peyton up in my arms, her eyes red-rimmed and puffy from crying. The adrenaline’s wearied off and her bodies about to crash.
Ty’s in more of a zombie-like state which is frankly more concerning. It is his sister after all that he just witnessed… get hurt.
Frasier opens the door and grabs a couple more pillows from the cupboard before moving back to the doorway.
I tuck Peyton into bed, taking her shoes off first and kissing her on the forehead. “Goodnight Squishy. I love you.” I whisper pulling the cover over her.
Ty stands still by the window on the other side of the bed; looking out into the darkness. I don’t know what to say to him to make him feel better. Nothing I say can make him feel better.
Slowly, I round the bed to him. I grip his shoulder and turn him towards me. More tears fill his eyes, the moon catching the drops with its light making them shine against his flushed skin.
I crouch down and pull him into another hug.
“I… I need her…” he manages to get out between broken sobs.
His is voice sounds so broken… so afraid.
I tighten my arms and fight back my own tears. Be strong.
“You have her, she isn’t going anywhere… I promise.”
We pull back and wipes his eyes and the snot from under his nose.
“I need you to stay here the night, okay? I’m gonna bring her back, okay?” he nods sniffling still. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Try and get some sleep.” He nods again, taking his own shoes off and jumping into the queen bed with Peyton.
I pull the blanket back over him again and do the same as I did with Peyton; a kiss on the head. Turning the light off, I follow Frasier out of the room and back downstairs.
“Dude, what’s going on?” He stops me from walking.
This is all my fault. I wouldn’t even blame Paisley if she never talked to me. She’ll probably move home after what just happened.
Ty’s probably gonna be scarred for life. Paisley might have some serious brain damage, fractures, cuts… probably more!
What if she doesn’t remember me? What if she doesn’t remember Ty?
“No, no, no. Xavier!” Frasier’s voice barely breaks through my screaming thoughts. “I know that look. Xavier!”
Gripping my shoulders, he literally shakes me back to the real world and out of my head.
“I fucked up, man. I-I need your dad.” my breathing turns ragged and I’m pulling at my hair.
“Aw fuck,” he breathes pushing down onto the couch and running back up the stairs.
A minute later Frasier bounds down the stairs, his dad hot on heels behind him. I can’t even focus on their dishevelled states right now with everything going on in my head.
“What happened?” John, Frasier’s dad sits on the edge of the coffee table in front of me.
Emma, Frasier’s mom isn’t far behind them clad in her dressing gown and fuzzy socks, her greying brown hair wrapped in a bun at the top of her head.
I look between all of their faces, the same worried and confused expression that they all wear. A sickening reminder of the trouble and burden I am to them.
I don’t deserve their help. They don’t deserve to be put through this. It’s quarter-past-three in the bloody morning, and they’re up because my life’s a fucked-up mess that I can’t handle.
No matter how I feel about any of this though, I can’t do anything without John. I’m not even eighteen yet!
“Mom’s back.” I breathe out collapsing my head into my hands.
“Shit!” John and Frasier both curse under their breath. Like father, like son.
I manage to very badly explain what happened briefly before they both got dressed in something other than their PJ’s.
Emma brings me a hot cup of coffee; double strength just what I need for a night like this.
She pulls me into a hug. I never was one for physical affection like hugs, or holding hands, but something’s changed. Emma’s like the mom I never had, even if she doesn’t know it, she’s done so much for me.
I remember the nights I used to just walk here at two in the morning after my mom would come back and bring some new crack head with her. I’d sneak out with Peyton in my arms, bundled in layers of blankets or clothes, whatever I could find that was clean.
Neither she or John would question or complain why I was rocking up on their doorstep so late with my baby sister asleep in my arms.
It was like an automated routine once I’d get there. The door would open as well as Emma’s arms. Peyton would be taken to one of the spare rooms that slowly began to fill with stuff that Emma would buy for her.
The nights we’d show up after Emma made us something to eat, I’d head off the bed and there’d be some new clothes just sitting in a bag on the bed. They never mentioned it, and even when I brought it up once, they just shrugged it off like it was nothing.
They didn’t know that I had been rotating the five shirts I had for the past three weeks because mom spent all her money on crack instead of groceries and washing powder.
I remember digging around in the couches and stealing money from the wallets of some of the guys she’d bring home just to be able to get some bread.
Frasier even gave me some of his toys that he claimed he “didn’t want any more” so I’d have something. They always made me feel like I was a part of their family as best they could.
Christmas’… holidays… everything; it was just an unsaid rule that we were Peyton and I was just to come.
Their whole family was so accepting if anything they loved having more kids around. Most of them being so busy with work to have kids themselves.
Emma stays with the kids, making sure they’re still asleep and taking the day off tomorrow from work to take care of them.
John comes down in jeans and a polo, similar to Frasier who’s dressed in jeans and a hoodie. Emma gives me one last hug before John hops in his Jeep and follows Frasier and me in my car.
I’m thankful that John spent some time as a lawyer before getting his real estate license. It makes good for situations like this. Not that I want anything like this to happen ever again, but it’s helpful.
“Don’t worry man, she’ll be alright,” Frasier says subtly trying to hold onto his seat as I fly around a corner a little too fast.
Breathe Xavier… Breathe.
I slow down a bit. I’m gonna be no help to Paisley if I don’t get to her in one piece. Plus, I don’t think John and Emma would appreciate me injuring their son for reckless driving.
Getting to the hospital, I park wherever and rush in with Frasier and John trying to keep up behind me.
“Paisley Evans, she was brought in by an ambulance?” I rush out to the lady at the front desk.
She gives me a displeased look, probably from my lack of manners. John and Frasier catch up, John puffing slightly with heavier breathing.
“Just a moment.” She replies, fingers tapping away at the keyboard. “Room 18D. Floor three first left off the lift.” I bound towards the lifts, a faint “Thank you” and apology to the lady from John.
Getting to her room, I rush in pulling the curtain back. A doctor turns around shocked. “Sir, I need you to step outside.” His words sound like static in my ears.
Paisley’s hooked up to a heart monitor, her eyes closed and the constant beeping of the different machines.
Her face turning shades of blue and black right in front of me. Her lip split with dried blood on her chin. Puffy and bruised eye.
I can’t move.
I can’t breathe.
Everything that’s happened comes crashing down on me. The weight of what’s happened funnily breaking me. Seeing her bruised and battered, the final straw for me to crack.
Someone’s trying to pull me back while another doctor tries to stop me from going in more.
I can’t hold it together anymore.
The room feels like it’s closing in and Paisley’s getting further away. White walls closing in on me.
Before anyone can stop me, I’m back outside and collapsing on the tiled floor. My knees buckle underneath me as everything pent up inside of me comes flooding out.
Tears that I’ve forced down so much in only the past 48-hours come rushing out in tsunami waves.
I’m acutely aware of someone’s arms wrapping around me but their words sound like a jumbled puzzle I need to decipher. I don’t have the mental focus to be able to figure that out right now.
More voices blur around me but I can’t make out a single word. My head feels heavy and my body feels like an anchor; holding me down.
With my face buried in my hands and knees, my tears forcefully escaping my eyes with no more self-control left to keep them at bay.
All of this is my fault. Letting Paisley in, being selfish. I should’ve at least told her everything or warned her. She had no clue what she was getting herself into, I never told her.
Now, it’s too late to go back in time and… warn her.
If I could go back, I would tell her everything. Tell her exactly what she’s getting involved in if she got involved with me. Tell her how messed up I am. Tell her all my issues that I don’t think will ever go away.
If I could go back, I’d make it all right.
If after this, she still chooses to stick around, I might make the same mistake twice. Paisley and Ty mean way too much to me for me to have them hate me.
“She’s waking up!” One of the nurse’s voice cuts through my thoughts.
A doctor goes running into the room, dropping the papers in his hands on the table.
Oh spirits, the universe, God, the divine… thank you! Please let her be okay.