“WAKE UP, ALLIE, wake up!”
Allison turned over to her side, her eyes still noticeably puffy from all of the crying before. “Please, go away,” she told her mother, sniffling as she turned back the other way.
“It’s Adrian on the phone. The police arrested him two hours ago. He said he tried your cell a few times but it never went through. Anyway, he wants to speak to you.”
She was unwilling to assimilate the appalling news and just lay there, frozen.
“It’s his only chance to call, but I will gladly make up an excuse for you if that’s what you want me to do.”
After a moment to fully grasp the gravity of the situation, she came around. She was handed the phone and then left alone. Tucking herself into a ball of anxiety, she took a deep breath and uttered into the speaker.
“Hi, Allie, how are ya?”
“Not good at all, Adrian. How can you still talk to me after what I’ve done to you…”
“Don’t cry. There’s nothing worth crying for here.”
“I didn’t want to tell them I swear, but Mom… she —”
“She made you. Pah! Why am I not surprised?”
“What are you saying sorry for? It’s not your fault.”
“But it is. Even though I regretted it right away, I couldn’t save you… I can’t bring you back...”
“That’s just what Mother wants. For years she’s prayed for me to be put away, I wouldn’t give her that satisfaction — not this time either. I have a plan.”
“What are you going to do?”
His voice reduced to a serious whisper. “Don’t you worry, Allie, I’ve already figured a way out of this. Since I’m under close watch, I can’t tell you all the details. But you must trust me on this. Do you trust your big brother?”
“Of course I do.”
“It will all be over before you know it. Things will go back to normal, you’ll see, and it’s going to be beautif —”
“What was that?? Did you hear that? Adrian?”
He never spoke again.
“Hello? Are you still there? HELLO?!...”
Upon a second bigger boom went off, it crackled in the midnight sky, waking many sleeping souls. Amongst them, Allison woke up scared, seeking solace conveniently in Ed’s arms. “You’re okay. It’s just thunder,” he told her softly. Realizing all that remorse she felt was from a bad dream, she pulled away and noticed she was wearing sweats instead of the eyelet blouse and blue jeans she had on when leaving home.
Ed quickly elucidated the matter. “Your clothes were soaked. I was afraid you would catch a cold so I got Sara up here to change them out. It was all her doing I swear.”
“I know.” She smiled at his unneeded jitter. Apart from having a slight migraine, she felt well enough to get out of bed and did so swiftly.
“You should try to sleep some more.”
“How long was I out?”
“Three, four hours.”
“I should really go home. I’m surprised I fell asleep at all, but for sure I know I won’t be able to again without my pills. It’s sad, but it’s also the truth.”
She grabbed her moist clothes and soggy shoes from the bathroom and stepped out with Ed following behind her. On one hand, they were astounded to descend into one chaotic mess, but not so on the other given that it was one of Sara’s parties — never was it an ordinary housewarming to begin with. After a long night of carousing, the smell of alcohol filled the air as a result of plastic cups, empty and half-full, discarded everywhere in the living room. Those guests who stayed for the night either crashed on the couch or on the carpeted floor in their own filth, together snoring a chorus.
Towards the front door the two tiptoed, trying not to wake anyone. In the middle of their maneuvers, they stumbled upon Sara passed out topless next to the fireplace, surrounded by cards and two fresh-faced males, both of whom looked pathetically wasted. “It must have been one lousy round of strip poker,” Ed mocked them. Meanwhile, Allison covered her friend’s exposed chest with a blanket before leaving.
The hefty grey clouds had since left the area. The streets were now calm and quiet, made apparent the chirping sound of crickets awakened after the heavy shower. Ed walked her to her car parked across the road. When it came time to part, he was in every way considerate of her in light of Daniel’s recent ferocity.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to escort you?”
“Yes, I’m sure.” His thoughtfulness just so reminded her of Kate. “What happened to your date by the way?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. I’m guessing she got pissed off and left the party long ago.”
“Oh, Teddy —”
“Nah, with this handsome face, another girl will come along soon enough.”
“I still feel pretty bad. Is there something I can do? Do you want me to talk to her?”
“You think she still wants to go out with me after I ditched her like that? Allie.”
“I was only suggesting.”
“You want to make it up to me then go out to dinner with me tonight. There’s this supposedly famous Italian restaurant in Uptown. I called and made a reservation last week for Kate and me, but judging by the way things are, I doubt she’s going to show.”
“Are you talking about Ottimo Cibo?”
“How did you know?”
“Just a wild guest. Dan and I have actually been there a couple times. It’s his favorite restaurant.”
“Right. Well, I’ll be off at five. I can meet you there at six, just need to go home and change into something proper for the upscale place.”
“Are you sure about this?”
“Am I sure? It would be my pleasure to take you out.” He looked at her with hopeful eyes, yearning for a “yes.”
“If that’s really what you want, it’s the least I can do.”