This really happened
POSTED ON FEBRUARY 24, 2014 / BY ERIN T / LEAVE A COMMENT / FACEBOOK
Have you ever wished you could go back and change something? Thought about all the things you would’ve done differently? Everyone has regrets, even the people who claim they don’t. The world is full of shit that could have been avoided with the power of hindsight. And it’s natural to wonder about the what-ifs, the could-have-beens, even though it won’t change anything. They’re just so much easier to believe in than reality.
I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a story about one night when everything changed, a night I go back to all the time, seeing my mistakes and wishing I could go back and change my own mind. Maybe if I could, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. Maybe if I could, the chain of events that followed wouldn’t have happened.
The story starts with Rita Ora: they were playing her in the club again that night, for the third week in a row. It wasn’t a bad song really, but it wasn’t my thing. The others didn’t seem too keen either; Allen was grimacing, Gabe had disappeared into the mass swarming the bar area long ago.
Through a haze of people, I spied Dan wrapped around a tall blonde girl, seemingly fused at the lips. Definitely his type. Ava was tottering around in her high heels, trying to simultaneously dance and stay upright. I was a happy medium; tipsy enough to feel that familiar warm buzz, sober enough to get myself home if I needed to. This was going to be a good night, I decided. Maybe one of the best. With everything that had happened, it’d been a while since all six of us had done something together and I’d really missed it.
Suddenly Charlotte appeared next to me, her whole face a bright, sweaty pink that complimented her fiery hair. “Selfie!” she demanded, throwing an arm around my shoulders and holding up a camera in front of us. We pressed our faces together and grinned stupidly up into the lens as it went click.
“You’ve got a bit of flush going on you know,” I laughed. “You’re completely red.”
She poked her cheeks in disbelief. “Really? Where?”
She looked devastated. “But I don’t wanna look like a tomato.”
“Maybe you’ve just had a bit too much.”
She stumbled, nearly pulling me down with her. “Urgh…can we go outside for a bit? I need some air.”
“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”
I half-carried, half-dragged her out of the club, past the main square until we found a more secluded set of steps to sit on. It was 2am in the morning and the campus was alive; all the lights were still on and students wandered around in groups, helping drunk friends back to their dorms. Friday night was always the most popular club night.
Charlotte immediately curled up and gripped her head in her hands, trailing ginger strands of hair through her fingers. She was shivering. I distantly realised that it must be freezing, even though the alcohol blanket had numbed me to it.
“Are you feeling okay?” I asked, tentatively placing a hand on her shoulder in what I hoped was a comforting gesture. “Do you think you might throw up?”
She shook her head but didn’t look up. “I-I’m just so cold,” she spoke through chattering teeth. Then she began to cry. It started out as a quiet sort of sniffling, but quickly turned into loud, messy sobbing. I was, understandably, alarmed.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, but she didn’t answer and only cried harder. Eventually, after ten minutes, she calmed down and sat up, looking at me through red-rimmed, watery eyes.
“Thank you,” she slurred.
I was beyond confused. “What for?”
“I’m not sure. Just thank you. For existing, I guess.”
“Um, you’re welcome?”
“I really like your existence,” she continued. “I think it’s great, honestly.”
“Charlotte, you’re really drunk right now.”
“I know, but I mean it. I want you to know that I appreciate you…being here. Does that make sense?”
I sighed and patted her shoulder. “Yeah. I like your existence, too.”
She smiled at me – a floaty, oblivious sort of smile that people only conjure up when they’re completely hammered. Then she leaned into my shoulder and I tentatively gave her a one-armed hug, feeling strangely protective of her. If I could redo that moment now, I wouldn’t have pulled away. I would have stayed there on those steps with her, holding her close. I would’ve made sure that nothing bad could happen to her. But I didn’t.
“Do you want to go home?” I asked, after a few minutes of comfortable silence. She shook her head. “Okay, water?” A small nod. “I’ll have to go buy some. Just wait here for me.”
I dragged myself up and crossed the road to get to the kebab van on the other side. I bought water for Charlotte and a burger for myself. Just as I was counting out the change I needed, I happened to glance in the direction of the road. I froze.
I felt like I was seeing it all in slow motion, an old black and white film on repeat.
Her stepping into the road. The car, sleek and black, careening around the corner. No. No, please god no –
The forever too-slow braking, the sound of wheels skidding. The car’s headlights illuminating her dazed expression for a moment like a spotlight as it made contact. Her lying on the ground. Too still, too still.
Then I heard screaming, distant and muffled, as if I was underwater. It took me a long time to realise that I was the one screaming.
This is an excerpt from my new New Adult novel ‘This Really Happened’ which will be released on Amazon March 1st! Read the blurb on my books page and follow for more sneak previews and updates coming soon. If you’re a book blogger and interested in getting an ARC review copy, get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org