Chapter Sixty-Two

After We Fell

chapter sixty-two




Just stop! I want to scream at the two of them. I can’t keep up with them fighting this way. I can’t keep up: time doesn’t make sense in this state that I’m in. Everything is out of order. There are slamming doors and my mother and Hardin arguing—and it’s all so hard to hear—but mostly there’s just darkness dragging me under, pulling hard . . .

    At some point I ask Hardin, “Yes, what about Zed? Did you hurt him?” At least, the thoughts are there, and I’m trying my hardest to say them. I’m not sure if they make it out of my mouth or not, if my mouth is coordinated with my mind.

    “No, it’s Hardin. I’m Hardin, not Zed.”

    Hardin is here, not Zed. Wait, Zed is here, too. Isn’t he?

    “No, Hardin, did you hurt Zed?” The darkness is tugging me in the opposite direction of his voice. My mother’s voice enters the room and fills it with her authoritarian air, but I can’t make out a word. The only clarity I have is in Hardin’s voice. Not even his words, but how it sounds, how it moves through me.

    At some point, I feel something push under my body. Hardin’s arm? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m lifted off of the couch as the familiar minty scent fills my nostrils. Why is he here, and how did he find me?

    Only seconds later I’m gently laid back on the bed, then I’m lifted again. I don’t want to move. Hardin’s shaky hands push a shirt over my head, and I want to scream at him to stop touching me. The last thing I want is to be touched, but the moment Hardin’s fingers brush against my skin, the disgusting memory of Dan is erased.

    “Touch me again, please. Make it go away,” I beg. He doesn’t reply. His hands keep touching my head, my neck, my hair, and I try to lift my hand to his, but it’s too heavy.

    “I love you and I’m so sorry,” I hear before my head rests back on the pillow. “I want to take her home.”

    No, leave me here. Please, I think to myself. But don’t go . . .