Authors: Hannah Ford
y heart sank
hard and fast, sliding from my chest all the way down to my stomach.
I closed my eyes tight and then opened them again, hoping that once I did, Callum would be back, lying in bed, his strong arms wrapped around me tightly, holding me close the way he had during the night.
But of course it didn’t work.
When I opened my eyes, Callum was still gone.
The apartment seemed even starker in the daytime, only serving to highlight the fact that it was just a place he went to fuck.
And I was just a girl who had fallen for it.
The sadness rolled out of my body slowly, like it was being taken out with the tide, replaced with a scorching anger.
There was a line Maya Angelou had made famous.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
It meant that if someone showed you who they were, that you needed to
You couldn’t go convincing yourself they could be something they weren’t, couldn’t go believing that you could change them or make them into something they were incapable of being.
My mom had recited the quote to me when I was in seventh grade, when I was desperate for the popular girls to like me, before I’d learned that the jungle of adolescence was dark and twisty and impossible to climb, that even when you reached the top your position was precarious and temporary.
I didn’t listen to her, and it had cost me dearly.
Believing that people could change is what had led to the incident that had taken place my first year of college, the year I had to start taking my Ativan. I hadn’t thought about that for a long time, had used the soft fuzz of the drugs and other distractions to keep my mind from going there.
But now I was repeating those same patterns with Callum, trying to convince him I was worth it, and to convince myself that I was the one who could change him.
It was a losing fight and I was old enough to know better.
The thing about pain and hope, though, was that they didn’t discriminate. They did their best to try to trick you. And it was easy to fall for it. Even if you knew better.
I took in a deep breath and got out of bed, picking up the dress I’d worn the night before. It was a dirty mess, the fabric twisted and wrinkled. There was no way I could wear it.
I crossed the room to the dresser and opened the drawers, pulled out one of Callum’s t-shirts and a pair of his sweatpants. They were way too big for me, but they would serve to get me home until I could shower and change for work.
I was going to be late.
There was no way I was going to be able to get all the way to my apartment and then all the way back to Midtown by seven.
It was already six.
I had to hurry, I had to call Kiersten and –
There was a pounding knock on the door of the apartment, and I froze, Callum’s sweatpants halfway up my legs.
My heart soared in spite of itself. Was it Callum? Was he back?
Why would he be knocking on the door to his own apartment?
Maybe it was a doorman or a maintenance worker. Or a solicitor, or a –
“Callum!” a girl’s voice called. “Callum, open up. Please, open the door.”
Who the hell was
I crept softly toward the door and peered through the peephole.
The girl from the restaurant, the one Callum had been talking to on the phone in Florida. She was standing outside his door, shifting her weight impatiently from foot to foot.
“Callum!” She knocked again, and then, to my horror, I heard the sound of a key turning in the lock.
The door opened before I could figure out what to do, and then there she was, Rose, standing there, dressed in jeans and a red sweater, her long hair in a tangle around her shoulders.
“Oh,” she said when she saw me standing there. Her eyes racked up my body, taking in the fact that I was wearing Callum’s clothes. She didn’t seem surprised. In fact, she only seemed exasperated. “Who are you?”
“Adriana,” I said automatically, before realizing it might not be the best idea to tell her my name.
“Where’s Callum?” she demanded, shutting the door behind her and kicking off her shoes.
“I have no idea,” I said honestly.
“Seems about right,” she said and scoffed, like she was used to showing up here and finding some random girl Callum had spent the night with and Callum nowhere to be found.
“I’m sorry,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest. “But are you… I mean, do you have Callum’s permission to be here?”
“Do you?” she countered. She crossed the kitchen to the tiny fridge and opened it, pulled out a bottle of ginger ale and took a long sip.
“I was invited.”
“Yeah, well, I have a key.” She rolled her eyes. “Relax, Callum knows I’m here. I practically live here. I just have to use the bathroom.”
She started walking toward the bathroom, but she stumbled a little bit, catching herself against the counter. Geez. Was she drunk or something? I instinctively took a step toward her, but she waved me off.
She reached up and pushed her hair back from her face, and that’s when I saw the marks on her arms, angry and red, criss-crossing her skin.
“Are you okay?” I asked, a strange feeling settling in my stomach, an instinct telling me that there was something going on here, something serious and dark I wasn’t sure I wanted any part of.
I told you, I just need to use the bathroom.” She straightened and then resumed her path to the bathroom, here gait still a little unsteady. Was she high, maybe? She must have been. Or maybe coming down from something. I didn’t know enough about drugs to know what exactly she was on, or if she really was just drunk. But I’d seen enough teen dramas to know the marks on her arm indicated something a lot more serious than alcohol.
I walked back into the bedroom and gathered up my clothes, shoved them as best I could into my purse. The top of my dress hung out of the top, and I had to leave my purse unzipped, afraid I’d snag the beautiful material.
The dress was probably ruined anyway, after the way I’d balled it up and threw it onto the floor. Or had it been Callum who had done that? My face burned bright at the memory of last night, touching myself while he stroked his dick, the way he’d spanked me for wearing such a revealing dress, for talking to Garrett at the bar.
The way he’d said he wasn’t going to fuck me, how he’d done it anyway, entering me in one hard stroke while I was shackled to his bed.
Heat rose high on my cheeks, my nipples pebbling at the memory.
My anger deepened at the fact that my body could still react to the memory of him, of his touch, of the physical response he brought up in me, the way he played my body so perfectly. I couldn’t imagine any man ever being able to touch me the way he had, of giving me the kind of pleasure he’d given me.
And I hated him for that, hated that from now on, every man would be compared to him, making it impossible to forget him.
But those were ideas and problems for another time.
Right now I needed to think about getting the heck out of here and getting to work.
I headed for the front door, and as I passed the bathroom, I could hear the sound of water running, and another sound, something unfamiliar, almost like wet breathing.
I hesitated, wondering if I should at least text Callum, to tell him that Rose was here, that she was in his apartment. Yes, she had a key, but she might have been high, and I didn’t know for
she had permission to be here, no matter what she might have said.
He’d left me.
I didn’t owe him anything.
But when I got to the front door, my hand about to turn the knob, a loud gurgling sound came from the bathroom.
I was pissed at Callum, but this Rose girl was obviously disturbed, and regardless of whatever her and Callum had going on, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. Not that I cared about her, but it was just basic human decency.
“Hello?” I called. “Rose? Is everything okay?”
I walked back into the apartment and knocked on the bathroom door.
“Rose? I’m leaving now.”
Still no answer.
I was about to say screw it again and head for the door. There was a limit to how much humiliation I could take, and breaking into the bathroom to try to make sure Callum’s girlfriend or call girl or hook up or whatever the hell she was, was okay was past the limit of what I deemed reasonable.
I’d turned on my heel (I couldn’t even imagine what I was going to look like on the subway, going home in high heels and a pair of sweatpants) and was halfway back to the door when I heard it.
A strangled moaning sound.
I stopped and paused, but only for half a second, wanting to convince myself that she was okay, that I didn’t have to go back, that maybe I’d just imagined whatever it was I thought I’d just heard.
But a second later, the sound came again, louder this time, more insistent.
I walked back to the bathroom and rapped on the door. Harder this time.
I was pissed now. I was going to have to get stern with this girl.
“Rose!” I yelled. “If you don’t answer the door, I’m going to have to come in.” I jiggled the doorknob in warning. It turned easily, letting me know she hadn’t bothered to lock the door.
There was still no answer, and a second later, another sound came through the door, a choking gurgling sound, followed by another moan, this time more strangled and insistent.
Trepidation slid down my spine, leaving an icy cold feeling in its wake. Suddenly, I didn’t want to open the door, afraid of what I might find on the other side.
I gripped my phone tightly in my hand, and considered just calling Callum. But what if Rose was fine in there, and I called him telling him something was wrong? Talk about adding insult to humiliation.
Stop being a baby, Adriana
, I told myself.
Grow a freakin’ backbone and open the door.
And then I gasped.
Rose lay on the floor on her back, her jeaned legs all askew, a needle hanging out of a vein in her arm.
The water in the sink was running, the basin full. It overflowed onto the floor, soaking the throw rug and pooling around Rose’s feet.
“Oh, my God,” I breathed. I rushed into the bathroom and knelt beside her, soaking the knees of Callum’s sweatpants. “Rose,” I called. “Rose, are you okay?” Her eyes were open, but just barely, and they had a glazed, sort of dead look to them. The needle had fallen out of her arm and onto the floor, saving me from the horrible decision of whether or not to remove it.
I dialed 911 as I stood back up, turning off the water and unstopping the sink.
“911, what’s your emergency?” the operator on the other end of the line asked. Her voice was brisk and professional, ready to leap into action, the kind of voice that was used to dealing with emergencies, not like me, who had no idea what to do and was about one second away from a panic attack.
“Yes, hi, I think my friend might have overdosed on heroin,” I said. “Or some kind of drug, I’m not sure what she took.”
“Okay, ma’am, what’s your location?”
I had no idea where I was or what my location was.
I ran to the window in the living room and looked outside. I gave her the cross streets. “It’s the brick building, fourth floor,” I said. “Please hurry.”
The operator stayed on the phone with me, mostly just trying to keep me calm. Rose was breathing, a sick, sort of syrupy sound, but she was breathing. She didn’t need CPR. The operator instructed me to roll her over onto her side, in case she vomited, so she wouldn’t aspirate.
I did as I was told, surprised at how delicate Rose felt under my fingers, how fragile.
When the paramedics came into the apartment, they lifted her onto a stretcher and started peppering me with questions.
I grabbed my bag, still stuffed with my dress from last night, and followed them into the elevator. There was just enough room for all of us to squeeze inside.
“How much heroin did she take?” one of the paramedics asked. He had a buzz cut, acne scars and meaty arms, but his eyes were chocolate brown and kind .
“I’m not sure,” I said.
“It was just a few bumps,” Rose mumbled from the stretcher. She reached out and grabbed my hand, her skin cold as her fingers wrapped around mine. Her grip was surprisingly tight for someone so small.
“Have you had anything to drink?” the paramedic asked.
“I’m fine,” Rose said, not answering the question. She tried to sit up on the stretcher, but the paramedic put his hand on her gently.
“Whoa, whoa,” he said. “Where you goin’?”
“I have to get up,” she said. “I have things to do today.” There was a spot of blood on the inside of her arm, right on the vein, where she’d pierced herself with the needle. Nothing about it was particularly gross – it was just a spot of blood. But something about it made my stomach roll and turn on itself.
“You’ll have plenty of time to do whatever it is you need to do,” the paramedic said patiently. “We’re just gonna take you to hospital and make sure you’re okay first.”
Rose’s face crumpled and she began to cry.
“No,” she said, and then she turned to me and grabbed my forearm with her other hand. “No, please, you have to tell them. Tell them that I’m okay, that I don’t have to go. Please, tell them.”
My instinct was to unfurl her fingers from around mine and tell her that she
need to go to the hospital, that she was obviously a drug addict, and that if it weren’t for me she might have died, and that before I called 911 she hadn’t exactly been warm and fuzzy to me, so maybe she should think twice before expecting me to go to bat for her and try to keep her out of the hospital.