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The Wrong Place at the Right Time
His heart was racing faster than ever before, pounding through him like a violent drum. He had never been in a situation like this, but he couldn’t just leave her there, not after what happened. She was losing too much blood. “Why did I have to come to the store at this hour? It’s not like I needed milk that badly. I could have just come first thing in the morning,” he repeated over and over until the point was simply mute. He just kept panicking. He tried feeling for a heartbeat. It was faint, but present, thank God. His mind was exploding. “Ryan, think! You can’t possibly be this useless.” He had learned how to do this, how to perform CPR. He knew he had. It must have been about three years ago though, and his short-term memory wasn’t the best. It was freshman year, now that Ryan thought about it. He never really paid attention in health though. No one did. They didn’t think it’d ever be useful. “Why is everyone so stupid?” he questioned society.
Nevertheless, Ryan did what he could, even if it wasn’t perfect. He gave the poor, innocent brunette, who did not appear over the measly and tragic age of fourteen, two breaths, then gave her thirty chest compressions, or abdominal thrusts, or whatever they were called these days. He couldn’t recall, but that was irrelevant at this particular moment. Ryan repeated the process several times. He had already dialed 911, but the signal was faint. “Stupid damn phone! Absolutely useless!” What was so frustrating was that he had planned to go to the Verizon store the next day to complain about the phone.
“Of all the days for this to happen, why now?” It’s times like these where people turn to their faith for help. They plead that things will turn out okay, that they were put into this situation for a reason. No one likes to think they’re helpless. It’s not exactly a comforting feeling. “Well, maybe the cops will come anyway,” he thought desperately. It was their job after all, not his. Whatever. He had to what he could right now. This girl couldn’t sit around and wait for a hero. No one was going to come flying out of the sky and save her.
Ryan began talking to himself. “Sometimes TV shows really bother me because they constantly create a false sense of hope, an idealistic, desperate feeling that everything will be all right. Is it ever all right though? Doesn’t feel like it to me. Messes don’t just miraculously clean themselves. Sometimes I hate this world.”
Ryan was growing increasingly pessimistic by the minute. He just kept panicking, feeling like a complete and total failure. He couldn’t let this girl die. Thoughts began pouring through his head. What was he like at age fourteen? Was he ever this scared before? Why hadn’t he spoken to his dad in four years? It was like a panic attack, except he didn’t lose consciousness. Nope, he was in a state of complete awareness. Wasn’t there a name for that? “Snap out of it, idiot!” he harshly reprimanded himself. This was no time for pointless tangents. The wound was in her lower back. She must have been running from someone, and was probably stabbed several times based on the pointy nature of the wounds. He wished he knew the details of the situation so he could help her to the best ability. For the moment though, that was completely and utterly irrelevant.
Suddenly, his heart rate accelerated dramatically, for the girl burst out coughing. She was breathing, at least for now. “Where…what happ—“. “Shhh, don’t speak. You’re too weak. I’m going to get you some help. You’re going to be okay; I promise.” Ryan couldn’t explain what brought on this impulse, but something internal just took over. He grabbed the girl’s legs with one hand, the other he used to support her neck. He carried her as far as he could, tears flowing down his face. He just had to save her. He couldn’t lose someone, not again, not like this.
He brought the girl to the nearest gas station, where an attendant currently working rushed out to meet him. “Just calm down, calm down,” he remembered him saying. Ryan couldn’t calm down though. He just pointed to the wounds, and the gas attendant quickly ran back inside and dialed 911. Ryan was actually impressed with the police, for within what must have been about two or three minutes, they were on the scene, along with an ambulance with a headache-causing, beaming siren.
Because of his clear compassion for the girl’s life, Ryan was taken on the ambulance as well, to foresee what would happen. Finally, he was able to let go of some of the stress. This was no longer his problem. He had done his part. Still, if the girl didn’t make it, he couldn’t imagine the guilt that he’d have to overcome. It was then that the memories came flowing back to him. He tried to resist, but he was too vulnerable right now.
It had been a Tuesday night. Ryan had just come home from a friend’s house. The room was dark, and his mom was passed out on the floor, face down, probably exhausted from work. She was always working—no, wait; there was blood beside her body. Ryan rushed to the aid of his mother, checking for any signs of life. He was too late though. He wasn’t sure whether it was the bullet hole clearly visible in her neck, or maybe it was the marks on her face where she must have been severely beaten. Either way though, his mother was dead.
Upon this epiphany, Ryan’s heart jumped, and rage flowed through his body. He immediately checked for signs of his father. This didn’t take very long though, for his dad was in the next room unconscious, probably passed out from drinking as usual. Despite this being a common occurrence, Ryan stared in utter disbelief at his pathetic father. His mother had just been beaten and shot to death, and here was his already-useless father who could have possibly stopped the murder, but had been a coward instead.
Ryan’s mind was jolted back into reality as the ambulance arrived at the hospital. His face was bright red out of rage and frustration. His family had fallen apart, and now, after watching this tragedy, it felt like four years ago all over again. Still, this could turn out differently. The girl wasn’t dead yet, and Ryan wasn’t about to lose faith; not now, after everything he’d done for her.
The girl was carried into the hospital on a stretcher. Fortunately, they had managed to sustain the bleeding to a certain degree. This was probably the most painful part of the entire night, for there was nothing he could do anymore. He had to just sit and wait for the doctors to perform some kind of miracle. Ryan thought back to when he had first showed up at the store. Man was that a long time ago. It’s funny how sometimes time flies by, yet given the right circumstances, a few hours can feel like an eternity.
Within a split-second, Ryan blinked and looked back up at the monitor next to the girl. Was he seeing right? The girl had a pulse. In this instant, Ryan felt a surge of energy that he had never felt before. One might think, “It’s just a heartbeat,” but to Ryan it was like his own heart had just woken up, and for the first time in years, he felt truly alive.
After hours of being stabilized and heavily medicated, the girl woke up from her stupor. Ryan hadn’t moved a muscle since the doctors began operating. He wasn’t going anywhere. The minute she opened her eyes and gazed into his, Ryan was speechless. He merely opened his palm and waved. There was so much going through his head at the moment; all he could articulate was a simple wave. The girl’s eyes were dark red, but through the pain within her, he could see the life that ceased to exist only hours ago. Then, the girl’s lips slowly began to part. She was trying to say something, but what? Ryan heard a nearly-indistinguishable sound, something along of the lines of “tha.” He assumed she was trying to say thanks, so he interrupted her struggle and responded with, “Don’t thank me. I don’t deserve it. I was selfish. I saved you because I had to. I couldn’t lose anyone else.” The girl started to sit up. She was regaining strength. The words were coming to her. “I don’t care why you did it. I can see it in your eyes, your pain, your hope. I know I am alive because of you, and for that I am eternally grateful.”
Ryan figured it wasn’t exactly a time to argue. He had to admit he felt a sense of pride in himself. Something had actually turned out right, and he had made a difference in someone’s life, a significant difference. Then, the girl took his hand, began pulling on it with what little energy she had, and finally, joined it to hers. Within that second, and it only took a second, Ryan felt human again.