Hi guys. Did you miss me? It's really been a while.
Here's a little something I've been musing with. I need opinions. I'll probably end up deleting it or something.
I think I died yesterday. I’m not sure anymore.
Look, it happened so fast. I was running, and then I was panting, and then I was falling, and then everything hurt, and then––and then everything was black. I don’t even know what I was running from. I don’t even know how it started. Everything was okay, and then everything wasn’t, and then everything was black. Everything was black.
It was a peaceful black, too. Nothing hurt anymore. I’m not a girl who favors dark colors, either. But I did not want to see the light that interrupted that black little peace I’d tripped into. I did not want to be conscious, at the hospital, in a crinkly little patient frock that must’ve just accented my man shoulders. I did not want to wake up.
“We have to watch her closely now, Gwyneth. We need to––”
“Oh hush! It’s not her fault this happened, Sebastian!” Her voice is wracked with loud, gross sounding sniffles. She, Gwyneth, is crying. As usual.
It’s my parents, from behind that flimsy sheet that must be separating me from all the other patients. I wonder if they think it’s soundproof, or if they just assume I’m still too passed out to listen in on their conversation.
“I know, I know, dear.”
“Do not call me that again, Sebastian. You walked out on this family. If you’re thinking this accident is going to make everything just like it used to be, don’t hold your breath.”
“I know, Gwyneth.” He sounds stern. “I’m trying to make this about Sylvia, not you and I. You know how she felt about the separation.”
I would roll my eyes if they didn’t feel so heavy in their sockets. I become incredibly conscious of the fact that I have no mascara on.
My father continues. “There just has to be some sort of evidence of something that could’ve provoked this.”
“The police are taking care of it. Sylvia hasn’t done a thing.”
“Gwyneth, we need to think realistically. Whoever did this couldn’t have just picked her out of a crowd and decided to go and attack her––”
“Well why couldn’t they? She’s young. She’s beautiful. She’s in a wealthy family––our wealthy family. Whoever attacked her must’ve wanted her to suffer for being privileged. Oh, you know how people are, Sebastian. I told you, Sylvia hasn’t done a thing.”
“Maybe she hasn’t, but I think you need to be watching her more closely. You need to be giving her more attention, or else she could fall into the wrong crowd.”
“Are you trying to tell me that I’m not paying enough attention to my daughter? You’re the one who left us! You’re the one who should be paying more attention to her!”
A nurse approaches them, and scolds them quite sternly, about yelling around a comatose person, and what it does to the brain, and blah blah blah. She tells them to quiet down, and then informs them that yes, the gunshot wounds will heal soon, and that yes, it would indeed leave a few nasty-looking scars on my chest and stomach.
It’s that last bit that makes my mother howl in tears; how it’ll alter my once sought after, perfect body. If this all didn’t happen to me just yesterday, I might’ve joined her.
In addition to being a rich kid in upstate New York, I’m a model. For swimsuits. You can see the reason for such a reaction.
After the sobs die down, I hear more footsteps, then another voice, younger and light. She tells the other nurse to escort my parents to the food court. Says I’ll be having a check up, and that it would be better if Gwyneth and Sebastian weren’t there to ask questions, which is something they’d been doing every time the doctors came near me.
After much protest and extensive inquiry, the two leave with the nurse, grumbling all the way until they’re out of my earshot.
Someone, the new nurse, pulls my sheet aside. My eyes, closed originally, snap open.
“Look at you,” she remarks. “Awake already.”
The newer, brighter light from out in the hall makes it hard to see. I squint until the blurry silhouette of a girl turns into an actual person. And when she comes into full view, a part of me wishes she was still blurry.
She has dreadlocks of both brown and blonde, pulled half-up-half-down style with a silver studded hair clip. Her face is immaculate. Her hands grip a clipboard, and I notice they lack the gloves every other nurse has had walking into my room. Her scrubs are two sizes too big, and sag in unusual places. As if she . . .
. . . As if she doesn’t work here at all.
The girl looks down at her clipboard. “Sylvia Brinker. Says right here you’ve been shot in the chest four times. . .yesterday.” She gives me a weary look, and I can see the ghost of a smirk hiding right beneath it.
“What’re you all smug about?” I ask. “There’s nothing to smile about right now. I just got shot. Like, yesterday.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Sylvia Brinker,” she says. “It’s just that, to me, it seems pretty remarkable that you’re functioning so well the day after getting shot four times in the chest. No complications, no pain killers. Nothing. Do you find that odd?”
“Brinkers heal fast,” I reply, shrugging.
She chuckles. “I’m not doubting you have ties to your incredibly dimwitted family, Sylvia Brinker. I’m just doubting that you healed completely, all by yourself.”
“Well, of course I didn’t heal all by myself.” I gesture to the many blinking contraptions surrounding my bed. “The doctors did it the work. All I had to do was lie around and look pretty enough to go to drastic measures to save.”
She narrows her eyes. “Yes, I am surely not doubting you’re a Brinker.”
“Why does that even matter?”
“It’s all that matters, Sylvia Brinker.”
I give her a look, ignoring the chills ricocheting down my spine. “Okay, what’s your deal? Charity, isn’t it? Do you need me to pay for your college tuition or something?”
“I’m already getting an education.”
“Well then why are you being weird?” I grip the edges of my hospital bed. “Can’t you just give me some medication or whatever and go on with your day? I’ll leave an extra tip for you and everything.”
“Do you want medication, Sylvia Brinker?”
“Isn’t that why you’re here? Don’t you, like, work here, or something?”
She narrows her eyes at me. “Do you really think I work here? Come on, Brinker. You may be air headed, but I know you’re smarter than that. What do you think about me?”
“I think you want my money.” I cross my arms over my chest. “I think that you must have escaped from the psychiatric ward. I think that you need a shower.”
“What else do you think? The genuine thought. Not the snarky comments.”
I hesitate, but say it. “I think that a friend of yours must’ve been the one who tried to kill me yesterday.”
“Friend is a loose term” she says. “Oh, you’re correct, by the way.”
“Are you doing to kill me now, then?”
She raises a dark eyebrow at me. “You’re taking this oddly well for a Brinker. Shouldn’t you, I don’t know, be screaming? Thrashing? I mean, I know the man who tried to kill you yesterday. And I’m here. Right in your room.”
I hold her gaze without so much as a quiver of my lip. I’ve been raised better than that. I don’t thrash, or scream, or act rashly.
“If watching my father has taught me anything,” I say, “it’s that when someone points a gun at you, they’re bluffing.”
“Well, Rhodes certainly wasn’t bluffing when he pointed his gun at you, now was he?”
I swallow hard. crap.
She grins, almost triumphantly. “My name is Harlow Billings. I have more money than you’ll ever acquire in your entire life.”
“Then why would you try to kill me?”
“Oh, I’m afraid that’s not my question to answer, sweet. I don’t want you dead, per se. It’s actually Rhodes who wants you dead.”
“Well, who’s Rhodes?”
“Malcolm Rhodes. He’s new to the whole…” The sentence fades. I realize that Harlow doesn’t want to share whatever it is with me.
I roll my eyes. “Come on, really?”
“Look,” I say. “If you think that keeping me in the dark is doing to make me more scared than telling me what’s going on, you’re wrong.”
Harlow shakes her head, but slowly it turns into a nod. She takes her phone from her pocket and dials a number.
“Is this DH?”
There’s a muffled reply: Yes, how may I help you?
“It’s Billings. Operation is a go. You know who I need to reach.”
She doesn’t break her gaze on me, not even once, as she listens to the person speaking on the other line.
“Can you pass the phone to Rhodes, dear?”
I hear a faint shuffling noise coming from the phone. And then, a voice.
Harlow’s lips curve up, almost poisonously.
“Rhodes? Yes, you can come in now.”
I feel my cheeks begin to pale. Quickly, I pinch them, again and again, trying to bring the color back to them. Harlow laughs at the sight.
“Nervous, Sylvia Brinker?”
“Of course not,” I say. “We’re in a hospital. All I have to do is scream, and there’ll be a whole team of medical staff running in to see what’s the matter.”
Harlow just shrugs, like she knows something that I don’t. It makes me want to slap her in the face. “You probably won’t be screaming when Rhodes shows up, anyway,” she says. “A Brinker like you, no, you won’t be screaming.”
I put my hands on my hips from where I sit. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
The sheet curtains rustle, and a tall, muscular boy steps in. He’s got a buzzcut of blonde hair, and eyes larger than saucers––big, dark, and most likely full of readable emotion. Looking at him, I put together what Harlow was saying. He’s not hideous. He doesn’t look untidy, nor unkept. He’s not someone I would be running from, especially when he’s wearing this really nice dark gray pullover that happens to accentuate his muscles and also bring out the sensitive darkness of his eyes . . .
Oh, crap. Are all Brinkers like this, as Harlow claimed?
He grins, and his teeth are pearly and straight.
“My name is Rhodes,” he introduces. “Malcolm Rhodes. And you must be the girl I shot yesterday, right?”
I squint at him. “I have a name.”
He looks surprised. He glances over at Harlow, eyes questioning.
“She’s a wealthy little *%^##, and thinks she’s invincible,” Harlow explains. “In other words, you picked the right girl to try to kill, and you should’ve done the job when you had the opportunity.”
“Yeah, but that’s coming from the girl who put streaks in her dreadlocks.”
“You shut your mouth,” Harlow snaps.
Rhodes ignores our quarrel, and speaks right over the two of us.
“So you have a name?” he asks loudly. He scratches his head, as if he’s considering the thought of it. “So the ‘wealthy *%^##’ has a name, and she’d like me to call her by it?”
“Yes,” I answer.
“And what may that name be?”
“Sylvia,” I say.
“Sylvia,” he repeats. “And I trust you’re a Brinker?”
Rhodes smiles. “Well that’s magnificent, Sylvia Brinker. It’d be a ruddy shame if I attempted to murder the wrong girl.”
I have to give myself a little shake to get the following question out of me. It was easier to ask Harlow; she was harmless. But Rhodes? He already tried once.
“Are you going to kill me now?”
“Kill you?” Rhodes shakes his head. “No, I’m not looking to kill you at the moment. Excuse my dark side coming in yesterday––I get carried away sometimes. Got a little angry, tried to take it out on you. It’s nothing personal, dear. And it’s a good think you’re not dead, too, because you’re exactly what I need right now.”
“Excuse me?” I ask.
I receive no answer. Instead, he asks Harlow, “Is she healed yet?”
“Remarkably so, yes.”
“Perfect,” says Rhodes. “I need her tonight, anyway.”
“Oh, no. I’m not going anywhere,” I say.
“If I say you’re going with me, you are,” Rhodes says.
“And if I say I’m not going, I’m not.”
He crosses his arms over his chest. I see disbelief in his eyes. “You are truly a different kind of woman, aren’t you?”
“Well, why is a brave woman never considered regular?”
“You look like more of the damsel in distress type to me.”
“Well, you’re wrong.”
He doesn’t reply any further, and moves towards the machines around my bed. He presses a few buttons, switches a few notches––turns everything right off.
“Hey,” I interject. “You know, I actually need those things––”
“You healed yourself already, Sylvia Brinker,” Harlow says.
“I still don’t understand what you even mean.”
“That can be explained later,” says Rhodes.
“Too bad there’s never going to be a later,” I say. “Because I’m staying right here. In this hospital. Until they let me go.”
He laughs a little. “Oh, no. You’re going with me. You’re going with me right now, Brinker.”
“I am not.”
Rhodes rests his elbow on one of my armrests, leaning over towards me at a proximity way too close for a murderer and his intended victim.
“What if I told you I had a pretty little dress for you to wear?” he asks.
“I have enough at home.”
“I’d be bringing you to a very important party, where very important people would be paying attention to you.”
“That already happens to me, like, everyday.”
I can hear Harlow seething at my attitude.
“You’re going to get to eat expensive foods and drive in expensive cars, and you’ll be staying in a very large hotel room.”
“I could do that in a weekend,” I say. “Any weekend.”
Rhodes frowns. “What can I give you that you don’t already have, Brinker?”
“I have everything in the world, Malcolm Rhodes,” I say. “You could try all you want, but you wouldn’t be able to give me anything I already have. I don’t need you at all. I don’t need your little tricks that’ll probably end up in you trying to suffocate me or something. Go find another girl, a more gullible one, to try and kill.”
“I only need a Brinker.”
“Well you’re not getting one.”
He stares at me for one more moment before he presses his hand on my mouth. I reach up to slap him away, but he presses his elbow down on my chest, blocking my reach. I try to yelp, but his palm mutes it.
“I need a little help, Har,” he says.
Her dainty, clammy hand replaces Rhodes’. All too easily, he scoops me up out of my hospital bed and into his arms. I try to resist, but they’re both too strong. I can barely move in Rhodes’ grip.
It annoys me how easily they kidnap me.