“It’s not what you think-” Evan said, snatching his phone from Adie’s hand.
“What is it then? Who is he?” Adie asked. He was smiling, but it was clear that he wasn’t happy. His voice was raised, and it broke with every word he spoke.
They’d spent the night in Evan’s bedsit, which was essentially a tiny studio apartment above the village shop. There was still a stack of dirty plates and cutlery on the little dining table from the night before, and the cups of coffee Evan had made for them that morning were standing abandoned and untouched beside the kettle, slowly going cold.
Evan sat on the edge of the bed, throwing his phone down next to him and putting his head in his hands. The screen was still on, the string of texts glowing with Adie’s unspoken accusations.
“Tell me,” Adie begged, his hands clenched into fists at his sides. His face was pale, his eyes looking anywhere but at the boy sat in front of him. “Are you sleeping with him? Dating him? What is it?”
“It’s not like that,” Evan said again, trying his best to find the words he needed in order to explain. “I…”
“No,” Adie shouted back at him, grabbing his jeans from the floor and shuffling into them. He pulled his t-shirt back on and smoothed his ruffled hair, shoving his feet furiously into his shoes and grabbing his backpack from the floor beside the door. “I don’t want your excuses. I don’t need to hear your lies, not anymore.”
“Adie, please.” Evan said, jumping up after him and grabbing Adie’s wrist. “Listen to me.”
Adie shook his head, yanking his wrist out of Evan’s grip and turning to face him. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed. You spend more and more time ‘at work’ but when I call in to see you, you aren’t there. You vanish for days at a time, then when you come back you act like you’ve never been away at all. I had hope. I thought there would be a reasonable explanation for everything, that you’d eventually tell me what it was all about, but now I know. You can’t hide this from me anymore. Just admit it.”
“Admit that you’re cheating on me, Evan. What else could it be? I thought I could trust you, and you can’t even find it in yourself to tell me the truth. I thought you loved me.” Adie said, his voice cracking and breaking. He blinked away the burning in his eyes and swung open the door, stepping out into the hallway.
“I do love you.” Evan whispered, but it was too late. The door slammed in his face, leaving him standing in the middle of his bedsit in just his underwear. He ran back across the room and knelt on his bed, swinging his window open wide just in time to see Adie stepping off the pavement. “Adie, please.” He shouted, and Adie paused, still standing in the middle of the road. He turned his head to look back up at Evan, his lips parted and ready to shout back up at him. He was still angry- every inch of his body spoke of it, from his rage-clenched fists to the pink spots of fury high in his cheeks. Every movement he made seemed agonisingly slow, drawn out as though the moment would never end.
A second later, he was gone.
Evan saw the car before it hit. It came out of nowhere, rolling faster than it should have been down the main road, the windows rolled down and the radio blaring. The driver had one hand on the steering wheel and the other on his phone, his eyes fixed on the screen. He noticed Adie at the last minute and he tried to swerve, but it was too late.
Evan screamed, but the world was silent and still. He moved away from the window, one hand covering his mouth while the other reached down for the crumpled tracksuit bottoms on his bedroom floor. His entire body shook as he wriggled into them and took off down the stairs, leaping down them two at a time until he emerged gasping into the street.
The driver was still sat in the car, his eyes wide with shock. His hand was still outstretched, curled around a phone that was no longer there.
There was a dent in the front of the car, not as big as you’d think it would be but there all the same.
There was a crowd, formed of the few people out to do their shopping, all staring on with their hands to their mouths and their eyes wide and worried but none of them moving, none of them doing anything to help.
Then there was Adie.
Evan fell down at his side, his hands brushing his soft brown curls out of his eyes. There was blood on his face and his arms and legs were bent beneath him at weird angles. His face was pale, his lips parted, his eyes half open. The colour in his cheeks was quickly fading, the warm, living pink slowly turning back to white.
“Adie,” Evan whispered, curling around him as though he could protect him from the stares of the strangers around them. “Somebody do something!” He yelled, his throat raw and his lungs burning with desperation as he looked from face to hopeless face. “Call an ambulance!”
He took hold of Adie’s hand, feeling the warm softness of his palm against the tips of his fingers, the gentle pulse of his blood still flowing through his veins. The whole world was silent but for the sound of Evan’s breath, his desperate whisperings into Adie’s ear as he begged him to stay, to live.
One minute he was there, the next he was not. He didn’t remember being dragged away, didn’t remember the ambulance arriving or the paramedics pouring out to help, but suddenly he was back on the pavement, his back against the wall of the shop and an orange blanket draped around his bare shoulders. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t take his eyes off the sight of his constant companion lying motionless and broken on the tarmac.
It was the kind of village where everyone knew everyone else, so it wasn’t long before Adie’s family had arrived on scene. They knelt on the road, numb and broken and falling apart piece by piece as they looked down at his pale, bloody face. Only Megan would look at Evan, and she did so without pity. Her eyes burned into his soul, already blaming him for what had happened to her brother before they even knew if he would live or die.
Evan was forgotten. He stumbled to his feet, dropped the blanket from around his shoulders and shrugged off the helping hands of the people crowded around him. His eyes stayed fixed on the back of the ambulance as it drove away, taking Adie away from him forever.