It was becoming harder and harder to breath. She wished it was because he was so close to her or the fact that he just brought up the possibility of…what exactly? She didn’t know, but all she could focus on was the agony and exhaustion taking over her body.
“April!” he snapped, cupping her face in his hands. “Wake up. They’ll be here to stitch you up real soon, but you need to stay awake.”
“It’s been almost an hour,” she started to cry now; the tears hot and running down the sides of her face. “It hurts. Please, just make it stop.”
“Don’t cry,” he said his hand hovering over her hair before moving it down to her waist. His fingers moved hers away, which were sopping with blood and shaking. “I need to see how badly you’re bleeding.”
He peeled back her shirt carefully, and she kept her eyes steady on him. She was going to die in that dusty, old room. She could feel it. Suddenly, that feeling of dread appeared clear as day on his face.
“What is it?” she asked until she saw that the amount of blood she lost was tremendous.
“We have to cauterize it,” he said standing up quickly and turning to the door.
“Are you messing with me?” she asked, but he ignored her and disappeared out the door, gun in hand. She laid her hand back down on her stomach and wiped away her tears before new ones could fall. Maybe if she blacked out now, she could sleep through the whole thing. Before she could think twice about it, he returned with handfuls of twigs and garbage.
“Don’t think about,” he warned her as if he could sense her rising panic. “Tell me a story.”
“Does it look like I want to tell a story, Emmett?” She asked him, the tears returning, and her voice rising along with her terror of smelling her own burning flesh.
“April,” he snapped looking up from his quickly progressing fire pit. “Tell me something. Anything. Just don’t think about it.”
She could feel herself start to really panic and realized maybe he was right. She had to distract herself. Closing her eyes, she saw her mom’s face. Taking a deep, unsettling breath, she started talking as quickly as Emmett had.
She began to realize they had more in common than she thought. She told him how beautiful, smart, and funny her mom was. Everything April wanted to be. She told him what it was like to have a mom that was never around. How the most important thing wasn’t her children, but a ziplock bag of white powder.
She talked about the night her brother, at only two years old, wouldn’t stop crying. How he hadn’t eaten in almost two days. How she was only eight and didn’t know how to help him. The story she only told twice in her life was spilling out of her mouth as fast as the blood was spilling out of her stomach.
Her tears started to blur her vision, but this time it wasn’t from the bullet lodged inside her. She didn’t stop talking, not even when the sparks turned into flames or when he pulled out his hunting knife. Her head fell to the side, looking at his eyes flickering over to her, as she told him how the cops broke down her door.
She described the wood shards that covered their dirty carpet as she protected her brother. She talked about how she didn’t let the men with badges touch him. She talked about how she thought her mom was dead; when really, she left her kids behind. As if they were broken toys. Unneeded and already forgotten.
“My mom never wanted me,” she told him. Her voice was raspy and shallow.
“How could someone not want you?” He was back at her side, wiping away a tear with his fingertips.
She laughed, noticing his eyes had flecks of green lost inside the blue. “You’re just being nice cause I’m bleeding to death.”
“That’s probably true,” he smiled and took her bloody hand in his. “But your mom really missed out.”
“So did your dad.”