Word count: 1,783
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
“She’s moving! She’s awake!”
I can hear Jessica but can’t seem to open my eyes. The room is too bright, there’s too many voices. Where am I?
“Jess…? Am I dead?”
“No, you’re not dead, you chump. You’re in hospital.”
My eyes suddenly decide to open wide. “In hospital!?” As I become aware of the sights and smells, I realise I’m on a hospital bed in a large room partitioned with light blue curtains, an IV drip needle burrowed into my arm. I must be in Accident & Emergency.
My heart starts racing. I can’t feel any pain in my body; I can’t feel anything really — am I under sedation? Is it serious?
I suddenly remember Adam.
Jessica is standing by my side. I see her take a step forward. “Oh, Doctor, you’re here! She’s awake!”
A young doctor in a green uniform steps up to me. “Mila Koehler.” She shines a small torch into my eyeballs. “Can you hear me?”
I wince. “Yes. Is it bad, doctor?”
“My name is Doctor Akachi. You’re in A&E. Do you remember what happened?”
It’s all coming back to me. Arguing, Adam’s hand gripping my arm. The push. My right hand shoots up defensively to my left arm, but it’s under the blankets. “I fell down.”
“We were told there was some commotion. What happened?”
“Yeah, Mila. What happened? Did Adam hurt you?”
“No, no, we were having an argument and then I just fell over.”
Doctor Akachi purses her lips and nods. “All right. What matters now is that you’re okay. You didn’t lose consciousness because of the fall, Mila. You fainted because your blood sugar levels and your blood pressure were both extremely low. Were you working out before you fainted?”
“And did you skip breakfast, perhaps?”
I nod again.
“Right. All of this, combined with what might have been a stressful situation you were in caused your body to momentarily shut down. Fortunately, it’s not serious. All you have to do is make sure not to skip any meals, especially if you’re planning to put in a session at the gym.”
“What about her back, Doctor? Is it okay? I heard she fell onto her back,” says Jessica.
“Yes, Mila’s back is fine. I can prescribe some mild painkillers if you want, but only take them if you’re in actual pain.” She pauses. “I did spot some bruising on your upper left arm, though. What happened with that?”
“I don’t remember,” I lie. “Probably just got caught up in the… commotion.”
I don’t want to protect Adam; what I want is to go home. Put all of this behind me. The past seventy-two hours have felt like something of a hallucination. I want peace and quiet.Distance. And I still have to understand what actually happened.
Doctor Akachi tells me a nurse will come and remove my IV drip, give me my prescription and then I can go home. She tells me to take it easy, instructing Jess to make sure I get home safely. “Oh, and there’s a young man waiting for you in the foyer.”
I feel the blood drain from my face. “O-okay,” I stammer. “Thank you, Doctor Akachi.” I watch her leave, wondering if I should tell her to send him away.
“Jess, what is Adam doing here?” I whisper as soon as the doctor is out sight.
Jessica smiles mischievously. “Who said anything about Adam?”
I’m confused. “The doctor said Adam’s waiting in the foyer…”
“It’s not Adam. It’s…” She’s still got that smile. What’s going on?
“Is it my dad?”
“No, it’s Liang! Can you believe it?”
Now I’m really confused. “Who’s Liang?”
“I told you last night! The hot guy from Liquid, remember?”
I suddenly remember seeing his face right before passing out. So… that was real? “I don’t understand, what is he doing here and why is he waiting for me?”
“I’ll explain everything later,,” says Jessica, swiftly moving around, grabbing my gym bag and jumper. “Let’s get you home now, and go say ‘hi’ to our friend first. ‘Hi’ and, given the circumstances, ‘thank you’.”
“‘Thank you’? Why?”
Jessica stops in her tracks, her eyes betraying all of her surprised. “What do you mean, ‘why’? He saved you.”
Later that night, I’m finally laying in bed. In my own bed. In the dark quiet of my room, with only the perfect amount of moonlight sifting through the cheap cotton curtains. They’re an ugly pink with a poorly drawn daisy-flower pattern, and I’ve never loved them as much as I do now. Even Jess seems to be finally asleep; there’s no light coming from under my door.
Aaaah, peace and quiet. Some time to think.
This is all I want — to be all by myself, sandwiched between clean bedlinen, phone switched off, alone with my thoughts. As it turns out, my hallucination isn’t quite over, and the calm I’m craving isn’t going to come anytime soon. So I need to make the most of now. But I can’t stop thinking of Summer Ball, Adam, hospital, everything that’s happened.
And Liang. Oh my god, Liang. Previously known as the hot guy from the VIP area. In a way, seeing him for the first time the other night perfectly coincided with the beginning of all of this mess, so I shouldn’t be surprised he’s somehow involved in it.
When we got home earlier today, Jessica told me all that she knew. She told me that she was popping into the bathroom in the middle of watching a re-run of Geordie Shore when she realised we were almost out of toilet paper. She decided to call me, hoping I could also pick up a packet of salt and vinegar crisps.
But the person who answered my phone wasn’t me. For a second she thought she must have dialled the wrong number, but when she looked at her screen it definitely said MILA. Except the voice was foreign, and it definitely belonged to a man. He explained to her Mila was lying unconscious on the pavement.
Jessica went into full-on panic mode. He told her the ambulance was on its way, and to meet them in front of A&E. He gave her his phone number in case she needed to contact them.
When she reached the hospital, she couldn’t believe her eyes. “I’m sorry, but for a second I forgot why I was there. And wished I’d had the time to put better clothes on.” The voice on the phone belonged the tall, shockingly beautiful young man that she’d spent most of the previous day stalking on the internet.
“It was the hot guy from the VIP area,” she explained. “Remember I tried telling you about him at That’s Amore? Liang.”
He was standing there with two or three other guys. They told her what happened, and it was the same story she heard from the the swimming pool receptionist, who saw some of what happened through the sliding glass doors.
They saw a guy grabbing a girl’s arm — it didn’t look friendly and Liang instinctively started running towards them, sensing something was wrong. But before he could reach them, the guy pushed the girl to the floor. Liang pulled him back and before he had time to react punched him in the stomach. Adam fell to the floor and one of the other guys called an ambulance.
After a few seconds Adam managed to get to his feet and flung himself at Liang, who easily avoided his blow and floored him again, after which Adam spat on the floor and started running away from them, vanishing into the distance. He watched over the girl until the paramedics arrived — by now, a small crowd had gathered around — and then, together with his acquaintances, followed the ambulance to the hospital.
“After that he wouldn’t leave until he knew you were okay. You should have seen how he looked compared to everybody else in there, with this really fancy linen shirt and his forehead perfectly dry despite the exertion and the heat. I don’t know how some people do that,” Jessica mused. “I looked like I had just walked through the desert for a week, and I’d only just hopped on the 127 for five stops, really.”
I felt a little guilty, but I didn’t go and say ‘thank you’ in hospital. I sent Jessica, who explained to Liang that I was too frazzled to talk to anyone, which was the truth, although after finding out about how he had come to my rescue I slightly regretted it.
“Thank you for not calling my mum,” I told Jessica when we got back home.
“I obviously would have had it been anything serious. But I know she’s got a lot on her plate with your granny and everything.”
“I’ll give her a call tomorrow, but I don’t think I’m going to tell her anything. I don’t want to worry her for nothing.”
“Are you going to tell her about what Adam did?”
I shake my head resolutely. “She never liked him. I’m scared she will come out here and hunt him down if I do,” I laugh.
“He got what he deserved. Although not nearly enough. Why didn’t you tell Doctor Akachi?”
“I didn’t want to start something. I don’t want to have to confront Adam, to have to talk to him or even see him. He’s a dickhead but he’s not a bad person: he’ going to regret what he did and that’s enough for me right now. One day I’ll have the strength to deal with him. But not today.”
“Fair enough,” says Jess after a brief pause. Then her expression changes and becomes playful. “But do you know who else you have to call after you’ve called your mum? Liang!”
“Oh dear, you’re going to make me do that, aren’t you?”
“Don’t be rude! You owe it to him. Not everybody would stop to help a random stranger on the street like that. And Adam’s got some big arms. He’s kind of scary. I’ve got Liang’s number. Can you put it on loudspeaker, when you call him? I like hearing his voice.”
I will call him tomorrow. I don’t know what I’ll say — I’m terrible on the phone — maybe I’m going to have to write a speech down? How do you thank someone for saving you? I’ve never been saved before!
But for now I’ll just let the soft darkness of my cosy little student bedroom lull me to sleep, unaware that the wheels have been put in motion for something that is going to change my life forever.