Hi, Hey, Hello!
‘You’re back at home now right?’ Lizzy tentatively brushed her thumbs across her phone screen and twitched over the ‘enter’ button. She heard the distant thump of her front door closing, which indicated that she was now alone in the house and her hand twitched in response to the sound causing her thumb to fall firmly against the key and send her text.
She threw her phone away hastily and pushed herself off the bed and left the room. She dragged her feet to the kitchen and slowly filled a glass with water out of the trickling tap. She pulled an apple off the top of the fruit bowl and half-heartedly ran it under some water before nibbling at the skin as she headed back to her room. She set the glass on her desk and shakily picked her phone up from where it had landed on the duvet. She unlocked it and clicked the icon indicating that she had a new message.
‘Yeah, got in about an hour ago. Why?’ His message replied. Lizzy fell on the bed and pulled the duvet around her, resting her head on the crook of her elbow before she responded. Her thumb moved lethargically across the screen as she typed out several different messages before settling on:
‘Nothing, was just checking you were back safe X.’ Lizzy dropped her phone again and screwed her eyes shut taking in deep, harsh breaths. The sharp vibration of her phone against the mattress a few minutes later caused her eyes to fling open and she snatched the phone up to stop the noise answering without thinking.
‘Hey Lizzy.’ She winced at Ryan’s voice and took a shaky breath before answering.
‘Hey, how are you?’ Her voice had a slight tremor to it, but largely gave the illusion of happiness.
‘Tired but fine. What’s up with you?’
‘Not much. Just lying in bed.’
‘Uh huh, yeah and?’
‘And nothing.’ Her voice was blunt and borderline annoyed.
‘No seriously Liz what’s wrong?’
‘Why do you think something is wrong.’ She took on a defensive tone.
‘Because as flattered as I am that you are trying to spin this into you worrying about me driving from Glasgow to London you don’t do stuff like that,’ there was a brief pause before he said, ‘not so efficiently anyway.’
‘Sorry for being courteous. I’m fine though.’
‘Try telling your voice that Liz.’ He tried gently.
‘I would if I could Ryan.’ All fight left her voice.
‘So what’s wrong?’ There was a lengthy pause before she finally answered quietly.
‘Dad collapsed in a meeting today. He’s in the hospital.’
‘Shit babe, is he okay?’
‘I mean no. Maybe. Fuck, I don’t know. My family aren’t exactly being coherent with the information.’
‘Wait where are they?’
‘Everyone is in New York. Dad had some work stuff to do out there so Mum went with him and they took Lola because it coincides with a school holiday and Dylan’s at uni out there this semester. And I’m stuck here with references and words and dissertation thoughts seeping out of every pore of my being in a cold house, because the boiler keeps playing up and our landlords are shit at sorting this stuff out. And I’m officially not talking to Mel at all right now and I’m holed up in my room all the time just listening intently for any kind of movement from her so I can continue to avoid her because I am such an adult. And my dad is in a fucking hospital thousands of miles away and I can’t get to him nor do I have any idea how he is.’ She inhaled shakily and wetly, putting her trembling hand over her mouth to muffle any potential cries that might slip from it.
‘Hey Liz, I’ll be there in 15 minutes okay.’
‘Nononononono. Don’t do that. Please don’t do that. I’m fine. I’ll be fine.’ A sob escaped from her mouth and Ryan clutched his phone tighter to his ear.
‘Lizzy, I am not leaving you on your own right now.’ He reasoned.
‘But I want to be on my own. I need to process this on my own.’
‘I don’t think you do though. Want to be alone that is. You don’t have to talk, you don’t have to do anything but you don’t need to process this on your own. You’re not on your own.’ Lizzy sniffed loudly and scrubbed a hand across her face.
‘No I’m fine. You probably have things to do anyway.’
‘It’s 6 o’clock on a Friday, I have been working all week and just drove for like 6 hours. The only things I have to do tonight involve sleep and Netflix.’
‘Well I wouldn’t want to keep you from that then.’
‘Liz, are you being serious right now?’
‘I’m not gonna peacefully do anything right now.’
‘You don’t have to worry about me.’ Lizzy pleaded, rubbing at her eyes to remove the tears that had collected.
‘Bullshit. And anyway it’s too late for that, I already worry. It’s in my nature to worry about the people care about.’
‘No, it’s not.’
‘I’m gonna go now. I have a ton of work to do and I’ve used all my allocated break time up.’ Lizzy tried and received a somewhat aggravated sigh.
‘I’m gonna be knocking on your door in 15 minutes.’
‘Please don’t.’ She pleaded weakly.
‘Already have my car keys in my hand and am halfway out the door.’
‘Ryan do…’ The call have ended Lizzy groaned and threw her phone away again. She drained half her glass of water and picked up her long discarded laptop from its place on the pillow next to her.
Eighteen minutes later the doorbell rang through the house in four loud bursts. Lizzy jumped and knocked several keys with her fingers, putting an incomprehensible sentence in her essay. She dropped her laptop onto the mattress in between her legs and rushed to the door.
Ryan stood on the doorstep with his hands hooked into his back pockets, drawing the corner of his mouth in between his teeth. Lizzy automatically moved out of the way to let him in and closed the door behind him. Once it was closed Ryan wordlessly linked his fingers with hers and led her back to her bedroom. He walked over to the right side of the bed and sat down with his back against the headboard and then went about making himself comfortable. Lizzy stood awkwardly as she watched him move and when he eventually stilled he opened his arms in her direction. Lizzy shuffled her feet before she pulled the hair tie out of her hair and climbed to settle in between his legs. She rested her head on the left side of his chest and latched one hand into the fabric of his t-shirt near her face while the other settled onto the warm skin of his waist. Ryan’s arms wrapped around her and his legs bent so that his feet were flat against the mattress.
As Ryan gently ran his thumb in between her shoulder blades Lizzy buried her face in his chest and cried.
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