‘Did you see how strong she made that coffee? I wouldn’t have been able to gulp that down like you did. Besides, she so obviously spat in it. She was just disappointed I denied her the pleasure of watching me drink it’ I said, as Spencer opened the car door for me. ‘Thanks’ I murmured as he took my crutches from me to place in the back.
I didn’t particularly want to stay in there much longer anyway. It was probably best I trapped myself in this car before I could run – hobble – away and hide. I knew I had to face Ryan sooner or later; I just hadn’t expected it to be this soon - or under such circumstances. I nibbled my thumbnail as I gazed out the car window. According to Spencer, Ryan said his dad was ok. Spencer seemed reassured, but I wasn’t as calm. It wasn’t just his dad I was worried about.
It was probably no more than a minute into the journey when Spencer’s cell began to ring again. He dove a hand into his pocket, pulled it out, and chucked it sideways to me. ‘Is it Ryan?’ He asked.
I looked down at the device that vibrated in my hand. Ryan’s name flashed back at me. ‘Yeah’ I said, already sensing where this was going.
‘Could you answer it?’
Oh boy... ‘Sure…’
I hesitated as much as I could without making it come across as suspicious before answering the call and lifting the phone to my ear.
‘Hi Ryan’ I squeaked, lamely.
I cleared my throat ‘Yeah, um, Spencer’s driving…’
‘Oh – right… I – I didn’t know you were with him’
‘Mmm’ was all I was able to reply with.
‘So um, what’s up?’ I said eventually.
‘Oh right – uh, I was gonna see if you had already left yet…which you obviously have… you see me and Kate were gonna get some lunch here, but if you’ve eaten already then don’t worry about it’-
‘Oh no, we haven’t eaten yet. We can eat at the hospital. Right Spence?’ I turned to look at him.
He glanced back and nodded. ‘Oh, yeah, sure.’
‘Hey um, I think we’re here’ I said as a large building with ‘Summerlin Hospital Medical Center’ on it loomed into view.
‘Ok cool…we’ll meet you near the entrance?’
I never before would have thought that I'd ever be so relieved to hang up on Ryan Ross.
_ _ _
I hadn’t stepped foot inside a hospital since I was nine years old. My Auntie Daphne had just given birth to my cousin Emily. I remember practically bursting through the doors and running full speed through the corridors, excited to finally meet my first and only cousin. My Grandma chased after me, laughing as she called for me to slow down. I recall it being nothing but a joyous occasion, where everyone apart from the new baby wore giant grins on their faces.
It was different this time. Instead of bursting through the doors, I hobbled in slowly behind Spencer, struggling to keep up with him as he walked forward briskly to envelop Kate in a hug. She looked over his shoulder at me and smiled weakly, but it was merely in greeting, not out of joy. Her eyes were moist. Spencer released her and I immediately took his place. As my chin rested on her shoulder, I glanced up to where Ryan was standing with his arms folded. Our eyes met. He gulped. ‘Cafeteria’s this way’ He announced, turning away.
As the queues were long, and my purse strings were tight, I decided to hang back and save a table whilst the others got in line for the food. Kate and Spencer got in line for the hot food whilst Ryan stood in the much shorter queue for the sandwiches. This meant that he was first to collect his food, and consequently first to arrive back to the table. When he looked up whilst he was walking and saw me, I knew instantly that he regretted it. But there was no turning back now.
He hovered over the table for a moment, obviously contemplating where to sit. I guessed next to me was out of the question. That left opposite or diagonal. If he sat diagonally across that would make it obvious he wanted to avoid me. Instead, he settled for opposite. Oh, how I wish he had chosen diagonal. ‘Hi’ He said.
‘Hi’ I replied, shooting a glance over to where Spencer and Kate were talking to each other, only a quarter of the way down their queue.
‘Not hungry?’ He asked.
‘No’ I lied. Truth is, I was pretty starving, but it’d be a lot cheaper fixing myself a tuna sandwich when I got home later.
The conversation stopped then. I didn’t know you could have silences this awkward in a cafeteria packed with noisy people. I was suddenly conscious of every little thing I did -- breathing, for example. Ryan sat chewing a corner of a half of his sandwich, his eyes flitting about in every possible direction apart from mine. I looked back over to the hot food queue. They were only half way.
Oh God. I think I was even beginning to sweat. I had to say something. Anything!
‘I’m sorry; I’ve made it awkward between us haven’t I?’ I said, somehow causing Ryan to drop his sandwich upon the table.
‘Umm’ He said, fitting the two slices back together to put back inside the packet. He dropped his hands to his lap and looked up at me. I bit my bottom lip as I waited. He sighed and mirrored me ‘What you said yesterday…’ -- He bowed his head -- ‘You know, about, um’ – he cleared his throat – ‘not knowing how much you cared about me…you meant that, you…’ He flicked his eyes up and I squirmed under his gaze.
I could do one of two things here. I could say something along the lines of ‘see you as like practically a brother? Yes. Sorry to get so soppy on you!’
My second option was to say ‘Yes Ryan, I like you.’ To admit it properly. To tell the truth. To acknowledge that I wouldn’t be kidding anybody with the former option anyway because I knew that Ryan knew already. He didn’t need any reassurance. A year ago I would have most likely have gone with option number one. I guess this is proof that I’m growing.
‘I like you? Yes. And I’m so, so sorry, I should never have said anything; I mean I was really emotional at the time, and after hearing about your dad… It was stupid of me. Please, just forget I ever said anything.’
Ryan looked at the surface of the table and nodded ‘I would say ‘‘sure’’, but I’d be lying.’ – He looked up at me ‘I mean it’s not your fault… it’s just … you’re dating my best—‘
‘Hey guys’ Kate said, sitting down next to her brother. Spencer walked around the table and sat next to me.
Ryan went back to his sandwich – which he still only picked at, and the other two began tucking into their food as I waited with my stomach growling. It began to get louder, and I blushed as Ryan looked up at me ‘So you are hungry.’
‘No I’m not…’
My stomach growled louder. I sighed. ‘It’s just; I’m on like my last 3 dollars.’
‘Do you like ham?’
‘What? Oh, you don’t have to give me your—‘
‘I don’t want it, he said, pushing the untouched second half of the sandwich that remained in the packet towards me.
‘Thank you.’ I said, feeling like I could lean across the table and kiss him right this instance.
‘So what happened to the whole working with Brendon thing?’ Spencer asked with his mouth full.
‘Oh that – well, I’m guessing whatsherface has already been replaced. I didn’t exactly pick a good time to tear a ligament.’ I shrugged, picking off a piece of sandwich and putting it in my mouth.
‘How is your foot anyway?’ Kate queried.
‘Mmm’ I said, swallowing my mouthful ‘I can feel it getting stronger. I practice walking on it a bit... I can manage like 5 steps so far.’
She nodded, and everyone then proceeded to return back to their food. All apart from Ryan that is, who gave up his attempt at eating his only barely chewed sandwich and instead set it down once and for all. It seemed that, much like I had done earlier, he had lost his appetite.
‘So’ I said, after a few moments of silence which were only decorated by the background chatter of the busy cafeteria and the clinking of knives and forks. ‘What um…what exactly happened with your dad? Is he ok? Can he go home soon?’ After all, Spencer had probably already gotten his answers from Kate and I hadn’t got a chance to be clued in yet.
Ryan, who was formerly slouched back in the plastic seat with his arms folded, sat up and ran a hand through his hair ‘He had something called an alcohol withdrawal seizure.’
‘Yeah...’ –he sighed-- ‘the other night we were fighting and he said he could stop drinking anytime…I didn’t think he would actually try it. Went downstairs this morning and he’s having a fit at the kitchen table.’
‘Oh…’ I said, biting my lip ‘I …I didn’t know that could happen.’
‘He’s allowed out tomorrow though, right Ry?’ Kate said looking sideways at her brother for a confirmation.
‘Yeah’ Said Ryan, rubbing the back of his neck and smiling caringly at her ‘He’ll be out tomorrow. The doctors just need to do some precautionary scans to check he hasn’t done too much damage to himself… but they think he seems pretty much fine.’
Spencer and I simultaneously smiled and nodded, and then the four of us fell back into another silence, everyone seemingly lost in their own thoughts.
‘So’ Said Spencer eventually, breaking it ‘Steph and I were sat in a coffee shop and this like really fat, miserable looking, African-American waitress came over to take our orders …’
_ _ _
‘Thanks’ I said as Spencer pulled up beside my house. I opened the car door to get out, and Spencer did the same. I was pretty sure I could manage walking a mere 3 steps to pick the crutches up -- from where they were presently led slanted in between Ryan and Kate -- myself, but I also wanted the chance to talk with him alone before we parted. ‘Thank you’ I said as I stood myself up on my crutches and Spencer shut the door behind me.
‘So…’ He began, putting his hands in pockets and rocking back and forth on his feet with a slanted smile positioned on his face.
‘So… we’re good right?’ I asked tentatively.
He bowed his head and kicked lightly at a pebble. ‘Of course’ He said, looking up at me and nodding.
A wide smile broke out on my face and I dropped my crutches to the ground with a clatter before stepping forwards and wrapping my arms tightly around him. ‘Spencer, why are you so cool?’ I mumbled into his shoulder.
He tittered as he hugged me back. ‘I guess it's just something you’re born with.’
I laughed and stepped away ‘I love you Spencer.’
‘Love you too.’ He said ‘Oh, need some help?’
He picked up my strewn crutches and handed them back to me ‘Thanks’ I said, before turning to face the car ‘Bye guys!’ I called -but only Kate smiled and waved back at me. Ryan, however, didn’t even turn around. I shrugged it off; he probably just didn’t hear.
Only just over an hour had passed since I’d returned home, basking in the success of the break-up with Spencer, when Kate called me. It was my mum who answered – I could tell it was one of my friends by the way she said ‘Who?’
I took the phone from her after she had managed to establish that it was Kate and had repeated this information to me. ‘Hey Kate’ I greeted.
‘Steph, you have to come over.’ She said instantly.
‘Why?’ I asked, confused at her urgent tone ‘what’s up?’
‘I’m bored out of my skull that’s what. Please, please, please sleep round. My brothers been in a bad mood ever since we got home – I need better company!’
‘Kate…’ I began unsurely ‘I don’t know… would Ryan mind?’
After all, he probably had enough on his plate without having his little sister’s best friend – who also happened to harbor a ridiculous crush on him- staying round for the night.
‘No, he’s probably gonna spend the rest of the night in his room anyway…we can stay out of his way…go outside or something. I just need someone to hang out with…take my mind of things, and you can do that better than anyone else I know.’
She just had[//] to play that card didn’t she? I exhaled slowly and closed my eyes ‘OK’ I said in defeat.
‘You mean you’ll come round?’ She said excitedly.
‘....Of course I will.’
Ohhhh I didn't really like this chapter. I'm sorry! But needed to post this... I'm going to be quite busy now - exams coming closer and such. Please review!! You guys are great!
Oh! By the way, I've got a Twitter and shall post when a new update is, so if you've got it, follow me!:)
^ Yeah, my name's steffi as in stefanie...with an f. The character in this story is NOT based on me however it's just some girl called Stephanie on quizilla when i had it who sort of ended up 'winning' having her name used, ha.