There's conflict between Zine and Real.
Story: Older Than Me, Younger Than You
Chapter 15: Special Pizza Delivery!
He moved so suddenly that I jerked myself back and in the process lost my balance. In my haste to regain my balance, I dropped the cigarette, but I was no longer concerned whether Real had gotten it back or not.
A dreadful feeling gripped my stomach, as if my insides were being pulled into many different directions. I would compare this feeling to the feeling that you get when you’re heading up a steep hill in a roller coaster ride and once you reach the top, you speed downward until all you
can do is scream.
This time, I didn’t scream- instead, I called his name.
Gravity took advantage of me, and soon, I was watching on in horror as the tiles slid from underneath me and Real’s figure soon began to distance itself. As I fell, all I could think of was the impending pain that waited for my arrival down below. Would I die? Would I somehow break my neck and furthermore injure my spine? How could this have happened? I was too young to die!
Despite the terrible fear within me, I couldn’t help but smile.
I would always relish the look on his face when I finally hit the ground with a sickening thud.
As I lay there on the floor, I could only see and grasp blurred visions of the world around me. Far off in the distance, I could see a figure running over towards me, their steps frantic and hurried.
I stared at the blurred figure, trying to make sense of it, but I found that I couldn’t. My head was hurting so badly that it felt as if it had split in two and my entire body ached with a searing pain that I couldn’t even begin to register.
“Oh my God, baby, baby!”
The voice was so distant that I could hardly make out what it was saying. Was it concerned for me? Did the tone in it’s voice somehow sound frantically scared?
I felt a warmth surround me as the blurred figure held me in it’s arms, rocking my body to and fro. The gentle swaying rhythm calmed my nerves somehow, and I soon found myself paying less attention to the pain and more attention to the warmth that seemed to engulf me like a security blanket.
“Oh my God, Oh my God, you’re okay sweetie, you’re gonna’ be okay. Somebody help! Call 911, please!!”
I closed my eyes tightly, for I felt the swell of tears that threatened to spill over. I felt horribly sad at hearing the tone in the voice because it was so heart wrenching. Was my body that bruised and battered? I felt the figure’s hands wrap around my head and my face, their warm fingers brushing over my cheeks and ruffling through my leaf littered hair.
“Oh my God, what happened?!” I twitched my ears at the second voice, my mind trying desperately to piece together the owner.
“Call an ambulance Sheryl, please, hurry!”
I could hear Sheryl’s hurried footsteps as she sprinted up her front porch, slamming the screen door behind her. With Sheryl gone, I finally realized that the arms that were currently wrapped around me were my mother’s. She continued to rock me back and forth, whispering encouraging words through her strained voice. At times, I could feel the splatter of her tears on my head as she silently wept to herself in fear that if I heard, it would make my condition worse.
“Nn,” I tried to speak, but I found that I couldn’t. The pain was so immense that my vocal chords had been rendered silent. My back, legs, and arms felt as if they were on fire, a fire so intense that it seemed to engulf my entire body. I grit my teeth and tried to ride the pain out, but my strength and will were drastically fading into nothingness.
“Don’t try to talk monkey, the ambulance should be here soon,” Mom whispered through her tears. Her voice was scratchy and strained, as if she had been crying all her life. This thought added even more pain to my physical injuries and found that I couldn’t bare it any longer.
What would happen if I were to close my eyes? Would the pain go away then? If I could close them just for a moment, then would my energy and strength be restored?
The minutes passed and in the distance, I could hear the wailing sirens from the ambulance rage down my street. I closed my eyes tightly as a rumble of sweltering pain shot up through one of my arms. I tried not to make any sounds, but a few whimpers managed to escape through my lips. Mom seemed to notice this and pulled me further into her chest, stroking my hair with her fingers in a gentle and soothing motion.
The footsteps that filtered in around me gave me knowledge that help was now here and that I would be soon taken away to the hospital. The thought settled me somewhat, knowing that I would be in the professional care of expert doctors who could treat my injuries without fault.
When they lifted me up to the stretcher, I went dizzy and my eyes swiveled back and forth. During this swaying haze, my eyes happened to glance over Real’s roof. I shut my eyes as another shock of pain rattled through me. During these few seconds of insufferable pain, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to doze off, just for a couple of minutes. I relaxed my scorching muscles and let my body sag into the stretcher.
Real wasn’t on the roof anymore.
“Mmph,” I whimpered in despair. I lifted one foot to the next step, my thigh and calves screaming in protest at the forced movement.
My entire body, mostly my legs and arms, were bruised beyond repair, and with each step that I took up the stairs, the more dizzy and faint I felt.
“Monkey, sweetie, do you need help? Want me to carry you up?” Mom asked me from the kitchen, a worried look on her face. She frowned at me as I shook my head negatively. This was my first day back home after spending an entire week in the hospital. I stared down at the white cast enveloping my left arm; I hissed at it in distaste. Due to the fall, I had broken my arm, but at least it had been the only serious injury dealt to my body. Sure, I had many bruises and sore ligaments, but none of them compared to the pain radiating from my broken arm.
Ignoring Mom’s aid, I continued my painful trip up the stairs. By the time I reached my bedroom, my whole body was throbbing in hurt. I kicked off my shoes and scooted them to the side with my foot as I limped my way over to my bed. With a weary sigh, I eased myself onto the mattress in a sitting position overlooking my bedroom floor.
The air was cool in here as it brushed across my good arm and ruffled itself through my hair. I was glad that my window was open, Mom must have opened it for me, or else my room would have been stuffy and stifling. I took this moment of silence and tranquility to look about my room. Everything looked the same and nothing was out of place; after being in the hospital for so long, I thought that maybe my room would look different to me, but now I could see that it didn’t look any different at all. The same old room, the same old bed, closet, windows, clothes and… the same old empty spot where Katie’s diary used to be?
“Where?!” I yelped, jerking myself forwards. I immediately regretted this for a jolt of pain stabbed itself alongside my bad arm and my bruised limbs were now aching due to the forced movement. I bit my lip and let out a pained muffle, but this didn’t stop me from thinking about the diary.
I was sure that I had thrown it across the room next to my drawer, but for some strange reason, it wasn’t there anymore. Maybe Mom got to it and placed it in a safer place? Well, wherever it was, I was going to have to ask Mom what she had done with it. I didn’t like the idea of struggling to climb down the stairs in my condition, just to ask a simple question, but I couldn’t afford to lose that diary. There was still so much more that I had to read from it.
With a weary sigh, I got up from my bed (painfully might I add) and left my room to face the hurdle that was the stairs.
Once down in the living room, after taking a whole five minutes just to get down the stairs, I went straight to my Mom and sat down next to her on the couch. She was currently watching some show on the T.V. (I didn’t bother to look at it) and eating a taco. After a moment or two passed by, she finally noticed that I was there. She turned her head and looked at me, a tendril of lettuce dribbling down her chin like a broken piece of string. She sucked the string of lettuce back into her mouth and swallowed it down with the rest of her chewed taco before muttering a quick hello and turning her gaze back onto the television.
I stared at her for a few good seconds before opening my mouth to speak, “Um, Mom, can I ask you something?”
“Hm?” she mumbled through a mouthful of food. She drew her eyes away from the T.V. and landed them on me, urging me to continue my question.
“Did you take a pink book from my room? It was on the floor next to my drawer before I fell off the roof, but now it’s not there anymore.”
“Mm, nope, sorry monkey. I only went up to your room a couple of times to get you some clothes. I was too busy at the hospital worrying over you, ‘member?”
“Mm,” I said through my lips, thumping my back against the couch. This was going to be a problem. I was so sure that I had left Katie’s diary in my room, since I had thrown it across the floor before ever going out onto Real’s roof. Mom claimed that she had only went up there to get me some clothes to take to the hospital, so then who could have taken it? Is it possible that I somehow misplaced it? Or maybe when I threw it, it slid under one of my drawers out of sight.
Just as I was about to succumb to my mind’s thoughts, I heard a doorbell go off somewhere in the distance. It wasn’t my doorbell, or else it would have been louder, so it must have been either one of my neighbor’s.
‘It could even be Real’s!’ I thought in excitement. I hadn’t seen him for a whole week due to my being in the hospital. If I were to meet him now, what would he do? Would he feel guilty knowing that he had a helping hand in almost causing my death? I smiled at my wily thoughts. Perhaps I could confront him and ask about that expression he had on his face when I had fallen? It would be nice for him to get a taste of his own medicine for once.
With a plan formulating inside my brain, I slowly crept away from the couch (Mom didn’t happen to notice me leaving, she was too busy watching Food Network Challenge) towards my front door. Once there, I slowly turned the knob and cautiously cracked the door open. I peered outside and scanned the streets like a camera, but I couldn’t detect anything or anyone that would cause me to have suspicion. That is, until I peered over at Real’s house.
My eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets when I found that none other than Zine himself was standing on Real’s front porch, a counterfeit smile etched aggravatingly on his lips. He had a large pizza in one arm and a soda in the other, and by the looks of it, it didn’t look at all like he was enjoying himself.
With the same expression on his face, Real stood awkwardly in his doorway, his black eyes pinpointed into a ferocious death glare directed solely at Zine. The two teens were staring each other down, their bodies both covered in malicious auras malevolent enough to eat away at flesh. I thought that if they happened to continue standing there, stabbing each other with their murderous death glares, either one or the other would do something that they would surely regret.
I snickered to myself. I knew that Real wouldn’t stoop so low as to feel regret for anyone, especially Zine.
“Here’s your pizza,” Zine forced out through gritted teeth, his fake smile stretched so wide that I thought he would pass out at any given moment. Zine jutted out the pizza in front of him, waiting for Real to pluck it out of his awaiting arms. Real did just that; he leaned over and took the pizza from Zine, brining it to his chest. He looked down at the large cardboard box and fixed it with a calculating stare and then averted his gaze back up to Zine and frowned.
“The pizza better not be cold,” Real said in a hard tone, his eyes becoming lethal. “If it is, I’m going to have to contact your manager.”
I could faintly see the corner of Zine’s mouth twitching. He closed his eyes and smiled his best, despite his irritated aura.
“Not to worry,” Zine forced out, trying to keep his cool. He was having a hard time maintaining his peaceful demeanor. It would sure be a treat to actually see him angry, I thought.
“And where’s my drink, I paid good money for it,” Real thundered out, squinting his eyes in benevolence.
“You haven’t even paid me yet,” Zine muttered sweetly.
“And I ain’t gonna’ if you don’t have it with you.”
“It’s right here.”
“Why didn’t you give it to me before?”
“You already took the pizza. I was afraid that if I had given it to you along with the pizza, you would have collapsed and spilled it all over yourself. We wouldn’t want that happening now, would we?” Zine countered, his patience slipping through the poorly woven net that was his tolerance.
“I can handle anything you throw at me,” Real plundered.
“Oh really now, show me.” Zine asked sarcastically.
“I’d be happy too, but first give me the soda,” Real demanded.
“And what about my money? You can’t just up and taking everything without paying me first.”
“Why would I pay you after you’ve treated me so poorly?” Real asked non-chalantly.
‘Crap,’ I muttered to myself, panic starting to overwhelm me. I knew that if I didn’t do something to break them up, Zine wouldn’t be able to take Real’s insufferable attitude any longer. I could already see the last bit of resolve that Zine managed to store slip away into nothing but dust. If I didn’t go out there and ease the tension, there’s no telling what they might do to each other. With this in mind, I forced open the door.
“Stop-- AH!” I managed to scream, but it was already too late. In a matter of seconds, I was sprawled out across the floor of my front porch, face planted into the cement. My body was screaming in pain and agony, as if an entire fire had engulfed my very being. I couldn’t move, speak, I couldn’t even think without tears starting to well up in the corner of my eyes. And then finally, I let them spill. The pain was just too much for me to handle, and soon, I found myself sobbing quietly into the concrete ground.
In a flash, I could hear footsteps trample up my front porch and halt directly in front of me. I didn’t look up out of embarrassment- if they were to see my crying, it would be the end of me.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay sweetie,” a voice cooed from up above. I automatically registered the voice as Zine’s, for Real would never say such things to me. I didn’t look up, I didn’t even move. I didn’t want Zine seeing me like this, all bruised, battered, and sobbing.
“You okay?” he asked softly, rubbing my back in circular motions. I could feel the tears pool around my cheeks and leak out into the cracks on the concrete. If I stayed on the floor any longer, my face would become dirty with dust and dirt.
“It’s okay, you’ll be fine,” Zine whispered sweetly, trying to cheer me up. “Don’t cry-- holy crap, what happened to your arm?”
At this, I sobbed even harder. “I-I…f-fell…off the…o-off the…roooooof!”
“Off the roof? Serious?” he asked incredulously. He continued to rub at my pack, patting me every once or twice, until my sobbing quieted down. I was still lying face down on the ground, but I was now calm and relaxed and the embarrassment wasn’t as brutal as before.
“You okay now?” Zine asked softly. I nodded into the ground, but didn’t say anything. “Alright, time to get up then, is your mom home?” I shifted my head and could see him get up from the ground. With my door still open, Zine stuck his head inside and peered around the living room until he spotted Mom still crunching on her taco in front of the T.V.
“Umm, excuse me… mother?” he called out, an awkward edge in his voice.
“Hm? Oh, oh my god, yes?” Mom said quickly, swallowing the food in her mouth. I could hear her get up from the couch and walk her way towards the front door. “Could I help you, oh! Rachel, holy shit, cover your ears honey, how did you get on the ground?!”
She ran over to me and knelt on the ground. She then carefully picked me up from the floor and held me in her arms, brushing away the dust and dirt that was now caked on my face.
“You okay monkey?” she asked soothingly, rocking me back and forth. “Does your arm hurt?” She looked up at Zine who was looking down at us, a tiny smile on his face. “Thank you so much for calling me! Hey…haven’t I met you before, at that fair, right?”
“Mhm,” Zine nodded happily. Mom smiled up at him and then looked back down at me. I smiled at her and looked away.
“I know it’s none of my business, but how’d she fall off the roof?” Zine suddenly asked. He directed the question at Mom, but he was looking at me, rather intently might I add.
“Oh, um, she fell off the roof of one of our neighbors,” Mom answered casually. “Last week, actually, this is her first day back from the hospital. She has a broken arm, but she’s doing fine, right sweetie?”
Without Mom noticing, he looked at me and flickered his eyes over towards Real’s house, expecting a response. With no other choice, I nodded solemnly.
For a brief second, a malicious look glazed over his eyes, but that look quickly vanished and instead, a happy smiled played on his face like nothing had ever happened. He then looked back down at me and then at Mom, before turning around and stepping off the porch.
“I should be going now, I have some business to take care of,” he said vacantly. “Get better soon Rey.” And with that, he pattered away across the grass towards Real’s house.
A sickening feeling of dread began to boil at the very pit of my stomach, a sense of impending doom finally dawning on me. I wanted every so badly to run out of Mom’s arms straight to Real’s house to see what Zine would do with the new information he had received, but if I were to do that, Mom would get suspicious. So instead, I remained where I was until Mom picked me up bridal style and took me back inside the house. With the door slamming shut, I knew now that my days were numbered.
Mmm…sorry, short chapter. Zine’s such a sweetie…not to Real though.
I hoped you enjoyed the chapter (I’m sorry it’s so short, but I’ll make up for it).