Chapter 42: Don't Go Yet
“Jordan, please pick up. Please. I’m scared, it’s getting so much worse. Please answer your phone... Please, I need you... Please... Please...”
That would be the tenth time I listen to this voicemail since I got it Thursday night. I keep playing her voicemails over and over just so I can hear her voice, part of me is scared she’ll stop leaving them. Especially after what happened in the parking lot a couple weeks ago.
"Was I just some attempt to one up each other, was I just bragging rights? Is that what it was when we slept together, when I called you terrified at night?"
Her words haunted me. I so badly wanted to tell her the truth, I so badly wanted to tell her I love her and that I’m lost without her, but I can’t. I fucked up, bad, like insanely so.
Glancing at my desk I see the books and laptop I won Rhea at the fundraiser. I don’t know how I’ll get it to her but I will. I need to see her smile. Seeing her at school has been heartbreaking, she looks so scared all the time. Maybe these will help, she looked so excited as she skimmed the books at the auction.
Maybe I’ll leave them in her truck after school. She would find it easily. My thoughts disappear as her caller ID shows up on my phone. I stare at it, reminding myself not to pick up. I let it go to voicemail, hoping she leaves one so I can hear her voice. It takes close to five minutes before I see a new voicemail waiting.
I wait as long as I can before listening, because if I don’t I might call her back. Ten minutes pass before I break and put the phone to my ear.
"Jordan, it’s me. I know you aren’t going to pick up and that’s fine. You may never listen to this message but it is what it is. I... I just wanted to talk to you and let you know how sorry I am,” Her tears break my heart and I feel a few fall down my cheek too, ”I’m sorry I was a coward and couldn’t fight for myself. I’m sorry I dragged you down and put you through my crap. I just... I need you to know that I really did love you and I still do, I just wanted you to know that before I..." She clears her throat and falls silent for a moment, ”I can’t do it anymore. I can’t. Dad, he’s gotten worse and I can’t do anything about it anymore, it’s all becoming too much. Dominic... He, umm, he hurt me really bad, he hit me, and he... He touched me and I just... I can’t live with that I can’t. I can’t do this anymore,” I hear muffled sobbing before she is able to speak again, ”Jordan I know it may be a lot to ask, but please tell my dad I’m sorry, and I forgive him. Tell him to forgive himself, and get better. Please take care of him, I want him to be happy. Jordan, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that I’m putting this on you, and I’m sorry you had to put up with my stuff, I’m just so sorry for all of it. I’m sorry if I hurt you with this, but I can’t stay here anymore. I don’t want to live like this anymore, I hope you can understand... Who knows, maybe I’ll get to see my mom again,” She chuckles but all I hear are tears, ”Please remember, I love you, and I’m sorry... Goodbye."
I wait as the message ends, begging to hear her say it’s a joke. When I don’t hear that, I panic. I jump off my bed and run to my car, listening again to the message to find out where she is. I hear a swing squeaking. Fuck she’s at the park. She’s an hour away and dying!
I start the car and take off as I call 911. I tell them there’s a suicide attempt happening and where. The operator assures me they have people on the way and tells me to calm down but all I can thinks is... Am I too late?
I break too many laws, turning and hour drive into 25 minutes, I pull up to the park and jump out in the midst of sirens and people. I see her slumped on the swing and rush over to her.
“Rhea? Fucking hell, Rhea!” I slide to my knees in the wet grass as I run to her. She looks blue.
Her eyes open barely as a weak smile spreads over her shivering lips, “Hi,” I can barely hear her weak voice.
I watch a pair of paramedics pull her down off the swing. They toss her blanket and iPod to the side. I gather them up, finding her phone in the grass and holding them in my arms as I take her hand. The paramedic shine a light in her eyes, she barely reacts.
“Ma’am can you tell me your name?”
Chaos ensures when her only response is a low groan. I watch her eyes close again as one of the paramedics puts a mask on her and pumps the bag attached.
“Rhea stay awake!” I panic, squeezing her hand as I yell.
The paramedics lift her together onto the gurney, pulling her hand away from me. I try to follow them to the ambulance when two police officers stop me.
“I have to go with her, Rhea! Rhea!” I try to shove past them only to watch her get loaded into the ambulance.
“We need to ask you some questions, is there any family we can call for her?”
“I don’t know her dad’s number,” I watch as the ambulance take off with loud sirens, fear and anger control me right now, “Please I have to go with her! Why aren’t you guys going after the one who pushed her to this point?”
“What does that mean exactly?” One officer puts a hand on my shoulder.
“She called me, told me that... Her current boyfriend had forced himself on her, that she couldn’t live with it,” My heart shatters and anger boils at the thought of him touching her, “I have to go with her!”
I take off and get in my car, the whole while the officers yell at me. I don’t think as I turn my car on and drive faster than I probably should to follow behind the ambulance. The hospital is about ten minutes from the park and I get there in half that time. I shove through the emergency room door and to the desk.
“I’m looking for a girl, she overdosed, she came from the park on Main, her name is Rhea,” I pant as the woman watches me with wide eyes, “Please, where is she?”
“The doctors are working on her, I can’t let you back to see her,” She directs me to the waiting room instead, I can’t sit still. I pace from one end of the room to the other, waiting for news.
I see the same police officers as before come in and talk to the desk lady. Swearing under my breath I walk out to face them, maybe even get news on Rhea.
“You,” One of the officers steps in front of me, “You shouldn’t just take off like that. We need some questions answered, and you could have gotten hurt driving like that,” He looks sympathetic.
I don’t care about my driving, all I care about is making Dominic pay. I pull out my phone and the voicemail, playing it for them. I watch my hand shake as we all listen. When the message is finally over I stare at them feeling ready to explode, “She’s in here, dying, because of him! He hit her, he...” I feel sick, “What are you going to do about it?”
“We need a last name kid, we need to find him and question him. We need to talk to her when she wakes up, get evidence, it’s not an easy road. Do you know where we can find her family?”
“I’ll get her dad, he’ll be here by the morning,” I say feeling my fists clench, “I don’t know their address off the top of my head,” I lie, buying time.
They leave a number with the front desk to call when she wakes up and leave to go find Dominic. They were surprised when I told them it was a councilman’s son, but they took my world on it.
I leave not long after, driving the long trip back into town and to Rhea’s house. I don’t knock I just open the door.
“Where are you, you son of a bitch!” I’m beyond caring.
Her father stumbles out of his office, eyes bloodshot and glossed over, “You,” He snarls, “Where’s that slut daughter of mine? She screwing you too richy-rich?”
“Your daughter is in the hospital after trying to kill herself!” I’m disgusted by what’s in front of me right now. Is this what I looked like that night at the park?
He doesn’t react for a minute, I can’t read him as he stares at the ground. Out of nowhere he starts laughing.
“Good riddance,” He coughs out.
I snap, the last thing I feel is Mr. Sommes’ face meeting my fist. I watch him crumble to the ground, landing on his face. He doesn’t move. When my adrenaline fades I check his pulse. It’s there, that’s all that matters.
I pull out my phone and call Mr. Marsh, I got his number a week or two ago. He and I made a plan.
“Hey, it’s Jordan, I need you to come to Rhea’s house. Like now, something happened. I’ll send you the address ok?”
I hang up just as fast and wait. I stare at the message with her address, he doesn’t respond to it but he’s read it. Forty minutes pass before I hear a knock at the door.
Mr. Marsh looks scared when I open the door. I bring him in and explain what happened to Rhea, and how I knocked her dad out in an angry fit.
“She’s still at the hospital, I told them I’d bring him there, but he’s drunk as hell. I need him to wake up sober and he needs to understand that he needs to stop.”
“I’ll put on some coffee,” Mr. Marsh looks overwhelmed, “We’ll wake him soon, get him sober.”
I nod and sit back down. We wait three hours before waking him. He’s still out of it as I pull him into a chair.
“Jordan?” He groans, touching his eye where I punched him, “What’s... Where’s... Who’s...”
“Rhea might be dead,” I snap, Mr. Marsh grips my shoulder in an attempt to restrain me.
“What?” Her dad tries to stand, only to stumble back in his chair.
“She tried to overdose on her mom’s old drugs in the park in the city. She’s at the hospital, I don’t know how she is.”
“Why would she...”
“Because she felt alone damnit!” I jump up, Mr. Marsh physically has to hold me back as I lose it, “We both let her down and left her to carry too much! Someone hurt her and we weren’t there for her!”
Mr. Marsh yanks me back, “That’s enough! Placing blame won’t help her and that’s not what we’re here to do!”
He shoves me in a seat and approaches Mr. Sommes. I sit there shaking, scared of what’s happened to her.
“Sir I’m your daughter’s boss, and over the years I’ve come to love her as my own child. Jordan and I are here because you and Rhea need help. You’re drinking has become too much and if you care at all about Rhea you have to stop, or it’ll kill you both.”
Her dad watches Mr. Marsh horrified, “What did I do to her? I’ve tried to stop I have I just...”
“She can’t afford slipping anymore...” I mutter, “She needs us to be there for her 100% this time, if she’s still alive and we let her down again...” I feel my eyes fill with tears, “You’ve got to get your shit together because she needs her father more than ever right now.”
Quietly we all stare at each other, not mentioning the tears we’re all shedding. It takes a while to find words again but we do and come to an understanding. Hours pass in minutes and Mr. Marsh and I agree to help keep Mr. Sommes in check and sober.
“I have to go see her,” I rush to the door, her dad following, “I need to make sure she’s alright.”
“I’m coming too,” He stumbles a little as he walks.
I’m still angry, “Fine, but keep your mouth shut. You’re still a mess and if they find out your hungover, it won’t end well.”
Stepping outside it’s bright and sunny. She better be alive to enjoy this. We drive in silence, her blanket still in my car smelling like her makes me want to cry more. Rushing in the hospital, both of us break down when we’re told she’s in recovery. The nurse tells us it was incredibly touch and go for a while, and they lost her at one point, but she’s ok now.
I sit next to her when we get to the room. I see a bandage covering her cheek and bite marks on her neck and shoulders. I remember what she said Dominic did and I taste blood.
Her father and I sat in silence until I sent her dad home. He was still hungover and exhausted, I promise him I’ll call him when she wakes up.
I stay until my mom calls wondering where I am. I realize I have to go home and explain what happened, I tell myself I won’t be gone long and when I get back I won’t leave her side. Gently kissing her forehead I make my way out the room, leaving my number for when she wakes up... If she wakes up...
She’s been out for more than 24 hours. She has to wake up. She has to.