Home > If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)(4)

If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)(4)
Author: Courtney Cole

He’s not breathing.

I am frantic and on the verge of hysteria myself, when I give him two last futile breaths.  And then I have to lunge out of the way as he chokes, then coughs, then vomits in a geyser-like fountain of orange puke.

I quickly shove him onto his side so he doesn’t choke on it.

By this point, he and I are both completely covered in his vomit.  It isn’t pleasant, but at least he’s breathing now.  It’s ragged and slow, but he’s breathing.  His eyes are still closed, but I can see them moving now, rapidly, behind his eyelids.

And then he starts convulsing.

Oh my God.  I don’t know what to do.

“What do we do?” I cry out to the girl behind me.

I don’t even look at her, I am just focused on the orange foam coming from this guy’s mouth.  It billows out and upward, soaking into his nostrils and smearing everywhere as he flails.  Bits of it fly off of him in orange flecks and land on my sweater.

I grab his arm and hold it down.  He’s strong, even in this state and it takes all of my weight to keep him immobile.  I practically lie across his chest, his arm folded beneath me.  After a moment, his convulsions stop and he’s limp.  But he’s still breathing.  I can hear the rattle of his chest. It seems like every breath he takes is an effort.

I am on the verge of crying, simply from not knowing what to do, when I see red and blue lights flashing against his car.

I exhale a breath of relief.  Help has arrived.

Thank God.

“Run over and bring them here,” I tell the girl.  I turn, only to find her gone.

What the hell?

I peer into the darkness and see her running away, up and over the nearest sand dune.  Apparently, she doesn’t want to be here when the authorities arrive.


It takes the paramedics only a minute or so to leap from their ambulance and begin administering help to the prone man in front of me.

I’m not sure what to do, so I shrink back to the periphery and limply wait.  I watch as they shove a breathing tube down his throat.  And then I watch as they do chest compressions, which can only mean one thing.

His heart stopped.

At that realization, mine feels like it stops as well.

I don’t know why.  I don’t even know him.  But being thrown into this intense situation makes me feel connected to him.  It’s a stupid notion, but I can’t help feeling it.  Even though the only thing I really know about him is his name.


I can hear the sickening sound of his bones cracking and bending while the paramedics thrust hard against his chest, trying to force his heart into beating again.  It makes me cringe and I look away, trying to tune it out.  It’s at this moment, while my eyes are squeezed shut, that a police officer approaches me and asks me some questions.

Do I know him?

What was I doing here?

How did I find him?

Was he alone?


The cop’s monotone runs together and I answer as best as I can.

By the time he is done, the EMTs are loading Pax into the ambulance.  They run to the front and jump in, their tires squealing as they lurch from the parking lot and onto the road leading to town.  Their siren and lights are on.

That’s got to be a good thing.

That means he is still alive.


I’m frozen in place and shaky as I stare at the car, as I watch the policeman search through it.  He puts some items into plastic baggies and shakes his head.

“I don’t know why I bother.  His dad will get him off, just like he did last time.”

The cop is muttering and I’m not sure if he’s talking to me or to himself.  So I ask.

He smiles grimly. “Either of us, I guess.  The situation is just frustrating. Here’s a kid who could have the world on a string, but he seems to be dead set on f**king himself up.  Pardon my language, miss.  But he needs to land himself in jail or rehab, in order to straighten himself out. But he comes from money and his father is some big shot attorney in Chicago, so he always gets a pass.  One of these times, though, someone’s gonna take him away in a body bag.  He’s just lucky that you found him in time tonight or today would have been the day.”


I picture the orange foam that erupted from his mouth as Pax had convulsed on the rough pavement in front of me and I’m not so sure that I’d use that word.  Whatever he is, lucky doesn’t seem to be it.

I’m shaken now as I head to my car and drop onto the seat.  I am covered in vomit and my mouth tastes like an ashtray from the seediest bar in the world.  I grab a bottle of water and gulp at it, swishing it around inside my mouth and then spitting it out on the ground.

What the hell just happened?  I had come here to get some shots of the beautiful, tranquil full moon and had ended up saving someone’s life.

Unless he dies.

And in that case, then I guess I ended up doing nothing at all…except acquiring a horrible taste of someone else’s vomit in my mouth and seeing images that I am sure will haunt my dreams for some time to come.

I take another shaky drink of water and turn the key in my ignition.

I hope he doesn’t die.

I really do. 

Chapter Three


I feel the light threatening to seep into my closed eyelids, so I squeeze them tighter.  I’m not quite ready to wake up yet.  Fuck you, world.  You can wait.

Stubbornly refusing to open my eyes, I reach for my vial, which should be next to me on the nightstand along with a pack of smokes, a lighter and razor blade.

My fingers grope awkwardly, but the bed stand isn’t where it should be.

Muttering under my breath, I decide that if my f**king housekeeper keeps moving shit, I’m going to fire her.

But as my consciousness returns, bit by bit, I realize that I’m not where I should be, either.  The bed beneath me is hard and small and it crinkles like plastic when I move.

What the f**k?

I open my eyes to find that I’m in what seems to be a hospital room.  I have an IV needle taped to my hand and I’m wearing a thin hospital gown. There is a blanket folded over my feet and there are plastic guardrails on the bed.




I gaze around quickly and find that I’m alone.  The walls are bare and white, but for a dry-erase board that has Your nurse today is Susan scrawled across it and a clock that is ticking away the time.  Tick, tick, tick.  The noise is annoying.  Its black hands tell me that it is 3:07.

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