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Kevin VanAntwerpen

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By Kevin VanAntwerpen
Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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When a suicide bomber turns a subway station into nothing but rubble, a teenage boy is trapped with a girl he once dated, and forced to face the fact that the way he only ever used her for self-gain.

Ryan McAllister hadn’t felt a blow that hard for a long time. In fact, he really couldn’t think of anytime he’d been hit like that.

He cleared a strand of long black hair from his face, and stood. He was in a small opening that had been fortunate enough not to be demolished by whatever had happened. What did happen, anyway?

It took a second for his memories to trickle back. He had been standing in the subway and…
Was this a terrorist attack?
A faint voice moaned. “Help!” from somewhere behind him. There was somebody else in the rubble with him. After making sure he was ok, Ryan was ready to go to the rescue. After all, he was an athlete. All the kids at school would expect him to do as such.

Quickly the boy bounded across the small destructed space, stumbling over pieces of fallen ceiling. “Where are you?!” He asked. Perhaps if he saved someone, he’d get his face in the newspaper.

“Over here.” The voice said, and then it sank into a wild fit of coughing. Following the sound, Ryan pushed aside a piece of what looked like drywall. Beneath it, the form of a teen girl appeared, trapped under a large slab of concrete. She had to be at least seventeen or eighteen. At first Ryan didn’t recognize her. All the dirt caked on her face didn’t exactly compliment her feminine charm. But after a second, he realized who it was.

Crap. He thought. Not her… anyone but her!

Here he had the chance to be stranded beneath a demolished subway with a girl, and he wound up with crazy Elizabeth Young. His luck really was atrocious.

The look on her face was obvious shock aswell. Yep. He could predict what she was thinking. Ryan McAllister? That dirty jerk who only wanted her for her body!

Sure. Whatever.

But she was stuck beneath that rather large concrete slab, and no matter how much coldness Ryan admitted he had in his heart, he couldn’t just let the girl die. It didn’t seem right. Plus, on the upside: if Crazy Liz lived, he’d have an amazing story to tell his future dates. Maybe he’d even finally get that skating sponsorship.

Pulling hard on the piece of rubble, he moved it off of her. He was a little horrified to see her stomach bleeding profusely.

“Ryan?” She asked.

“Yes.” He said. “It’s me.” He just almost felt a twitch of guilt, but he pushed it aside.

“Oh.” Was the only thing she said.

He tried to think of something to say, but “Don’t worry, they’ll find us.” Was the best he could do.

But ‘they’ didn’t come. Ryan sat some distance away from her for nearly an hour, without anything happening. He noticed she’d started shivering quite a bit.

She looked up and caught him staring. He looked away, feeling a little irritated. She’d think he actually ever had feelings for her. Which he never, ever did.

“Why don’t you talk to me anymore?” She asked, forcing the words through her chattering teeth. He wanted to shout at her. Stop shivering. It’s obnoxious.

“Because I don’t…” he stopped. Something about the situation gave him pity for her. Because I don’t like you just seemed so mean. “I don’t know.”

She gulped and looked away, the clacking of her teeth sounding a little softer. “Why did you do that?”

“Do what?” He asked, hoping she wouldn’t talk about their ‘past’.

“You abandoned me. After all that time.”

“What was I supposed to do? I didn’t feel anything.” She stared back at him, and he immediately regretted the words. He could see tears forming in her eyes. “I’m sorry, I just-”

She looked away and started uncontrollably shaking again. She must’ve been really cold. On his own skin, Ryan felt no chill. Actually, he was sweating a little. Something was definitely wrong. How do you get yourself into these things? He asked inwardly.

Scooting across the room, he sat next to her and hesitated. But then quietly, he slid an arm around her shoulder, trying to create some warmth.

“I forgive you.” She said softly.

“You forgive me?”

“Yes. I do. I’m not bitter. And I’m sorry for whatever I did to make you hate me. But I want you to know I forgive you.”

Ryan glanced away. For the first time, he examined his own self-righteousness. He had accepted her offer to a coffee date, in the beginning. Only because he thought she was incredibly good-looking. Perhaps he’d led her on a little too far. It was his fault aswell, that a single kiss turned into something she’d regret forever.

If this were a fairy tale, he’d likely be the villain.
Maybe he had been wrong? This was a big thing for him to accept. Had he, Ryan McAllister, used this girl in an unfashionable way?

Yes. And he’d done it to other girls. In fact, now that he thought about it, he’d used his entire life in such a way. Jumping from person to person, sucking what he could from everyone and then moving on.

Why had he wasted the past nineteen years? They really were wasted. Down the drain, just like that.

He gulped, and felt his pride stop him from choking out the words he wanted to say. “I’m sorry too.” Was all he could get out. His eyes watered, and shame took over. A single tear rolled down his cheek. He was a very bad person. “I’m sorry for what I did to you, I shouldn’t ha-“

“Stop.” She whispered, and then launched into a fit of coughing again. “I forgive you.”

He sat silent for several minutes, thinking to himself. How could he have made such a mess of his life? Of hers?

Taking one of her hands in his, felt it. Horribly cold. Ryan wasn’t a stupid kid. He knew this was serious. But he wanted to deny it. No, she couldn’t die.

“When we get out of here, I think we should talk.” He said.

“I’d like that…” She whispered.

He felt her cold, pale fingers
again and another tear slid down his cheek. Without a word she leaned a head on his shoulder, and slowly drifted off to a non-responsive sleep. She wouldn’t be returning.

Left alone, Ryan sobbed. This was the end. The old Ryan was dying too. Never again, would he destroy someone else for his own profit. Crazy Liz had changed him forever.

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Reviewed by Annette Hendrix Williams 10/11/2007
That was incredibly good. I have never read anything from a young man that could imply that young men are basically jerks. You said it better than I ever could. I'm not trying to put you down in any way. You seem bright and sensitive, and if I were your mother, I would be proud of you.

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