Christian Sorensen was born in Corpus Cristi, Texas in 1992. Christian and his family moved to the Chicagoland area when he was two years old. Christian has lived in Chicagoland ever since. Christian attended grade school in St. Paul Lutheran Grade School, located in Brookfield. Christian attended high school at Walther Lutheran (now Walther Christian Academy). He attended college at Concordia University Chicago. It was at Concordia where Christian got serious about his creative writing. After graduating from Concordia, Christian enrolled at Chicago-Kent, a law school. He is currently attending Chicago-Kent part time. When Christian isn't doing homework or studying for class, he enjoys watching movies, long distance running, playing board games, and reading young adult novels.
A Serious Conversation at the Coffee Shop
Allison, a seventeen year old high-school junior, sat alone at a coffee table. She undid her ponytail and sighed. Allison’s brown hair flowed down and rested on her shoulders and upper back.
Allison looked at her watch. It was 11:40 am. She was waiting for her friend to arrive. Allison’s friend was supposed to arrive in about five minutes.
Allison’s hands shook as she took a sip of coffee. A drop spilled onto her brand-new jeans.
“Shit,” she said as she frantically tried to wipe the stain off. The stain was tiny. You couldn’t really see it unless you tried. But to Allison, the stain looked huge.
After fruitlessly wiping the stain, Allison said, “Oh well. She’s not gonna see it.”
“She” – that was her friend, Gloria. Allison and Gloria go back. Way back.
Allison remembered the day she met Gloria. Allison was four years old.
It was pre-school. Kids screamed as they ran all over the place. Boys were chasing girls, girls were chasing boys, boys were chasing boys…and there was even a girl chasing a girl. Allison covered her ears as she stood all alone. She continued to cover her ears as she went towards a toy-box. She took a plastic pirate sword out of the box. A boy shoved her to the ground and took the sword from her. Allison’s eyes watered as he ran away with the sword. She sat down and looked at the ground.
“Here,” a girl said. Allison looked up. A girl with black, wavy hair and glasses stood over Allison. The girl had a Barbie doll in each hand. She offered one of the dolls to Allison. Allison took the doll and stood up.
“Hi,” the girl said. “I’m Gloria.”
“I’m Allison,” she replied.
Ding! The door chime rang as a customer entered the coffee shop. Allison looked up. It wasn’t Gloria.
Allison checked her watch. 11:48. Gloria was already three minutes late.
Just then, another customer almost tripped on Allison’s backpack, which was on the floor, near her seat.
“Jesus,” the customer said, “put that thing away before someone gets hurt!”
“Sorry,” Allison said.
She put her backpack underneath her seat. A volleyball slid out of the backpack and onto the coffee shop’s wood floor.
Allison picked up the volleyball. She put the ball on her lap and stared at it. She spun the ball around. She was now looking at the writing on the volleyball. The letters were smudged, but readable. The letters said, “To: Allison. From: Gloria.”
That was from my seventh birthday, Allison thought. She spun the ball around again.
Allison again thought about pre-school.
It was May, almost twelve years to the day.
It was nice and hot out, so the pre-school teacher let the kids play outside, on the playground. The kids screamed with joy as they rushed out the door. They ran towards the swings, the sand-pit, the slides, the merry-go-round, and other parts of the playground.
Allison and Gloria ran side-by-side as they went to the playground.
“Let’s go to the swings,” Gloria said.
Allison and Gloria ran to the swings. All of the swings were being used, and about four kids were waiting to get on a swing.
“I want a turn,” a kid said as he waited to get on a swing.
“I’m still on my turn,” a second kid said as he rode a swing.
“Your turn is taking too long,” the first kid said to the second kid.
“Let’s go to the merry-go-round,” Allison said.
There were lots of the kids on the merry-go-round, and they were making the merry-go-round spin very fast. Gloria tried to get on the merry-go-round, but it spun so fast that she couldn’t get on. She fell down, on her stomach.
Gloria wailed and started to cry. Allison helped her back up and said, “Gloria, are you okay?”
Allison wiped away a tear from Gloria’s cheek. Allison said, “There. Now you’re okay.”
Gloria started to grin.
Just then, a kid-sized volleyball rolled up to Gloria and Allison.
“Hey!” An eight year old boy ran to Allison and Gloria. He pointed to the volleyball and said, “That’s mine.”
Gloria picked up the volleyball and gave it to him.
“Thanks,” the boy said.
The boy ran across the street, towards the grade school’s playground (there was a grade school across the street from the pre-school). Allison and Gloria saw the boy playing volleyball with his friends.
Gloria turned to Allison and said, “Allison, let’s play a game just like the one he’s playing.”
“You mean the one where you hit the ball in the air?” Allison said as she pointed at the boy playing volleyball.
“Yeah,” Gloria said.
“Let’s play,” Allison said.
They went to the pre-school teacher, who was watching the children dart around on the playground.
“Mr. Ford,” Gloria said to the teacher, “can we play a game like the one they’re playing?”
“You know, where you hit the ball in the air, like those big kids over there?” Allison pointed to the grade-schoolers playing volleyball when she said this.
“Of course you could,” Mr. Ford said. “Wait right here.”
In a few minutes, Mr. Ford came back with a kid-sized volleyball.
“Thank you, Mr. Ford,” Allison and Gloria said.
The two girls looked at the grade school volleyball players, just to see how they hit the ball.
“I’ll go first,” Gloria said. She tried to serve the ball to Allison, who was standing about six feet away from Gloria. Gloria’s serve was way off the mark. The ball landed two feet away from Allison’s right foot.
“My turn,” Allison said. She tried to serve the ball back to Gloria. Her serve rolled on the grass and ended at Gloria’s feet. Gloria picked up the ball and served. It went way over Allison’s head. Allison had to run eight steps back in order to get the ball. Allison served it back to Gloria. The ball landed a foot in front of Gloria. Gloria served the ball back to Allison. Gloria’s serve was on target…but Allison didn’t react fast enough, and the ball hit her on the nose.
Allison yelped as the ball hit her. She fell backwards, on her butt. Gloria went to Allison and wiped Allison’s cheek with her finger. Allison wasn’t crying, but Gloria wiped away a “tear” anyway.
“You’re okay, Allison,” Gloria said. “You’re okay.”
Ding! Another customer entered the coffee shop. And again, it wasn’t Gloria.
Allison checked her watch. 11:54.
Weird, Allison thought. Gloria’s never late.
Allison picked up the volleyball and looked at it again. She then looked down at her T-shirt. Her T-shirt was white, with green letters. The letters said, “Walther Christian Academy, 2014 Regional Champions.” The shirt also showed a girl hitting a volleyball.
Allison reached into her backpack. She took out a medal. She turned the medal around and looked at it. “2014 Regional Champions, Girls’ Volleyball” – that’s what the medal said on the back.
Allison again reached into her backpack. She took out a flyer from the Regionals tournament. She immediately flipped to the pages that covered Walther Christian Academy. The pages listed Walther’s roster and starting lineup. Allison was listed in both the roster and in the starting lineup.
Allison put the flyer back into her backpack. She put the medal around her neck. She looked at the medal and sighed. She then stared at her volleyball again.
Allison again thought about that day when Gloria first played volleyball with her, in pre-school. As she looked at her medal and volleyball, she began to wonder if any of it – high school volleyball, being a starter, that Regional Championship – would have happened if Gloria hadn’t played volleyball with her on that day.
Buzz! Allison’s cell phone vibrated. She took out her phone and looked at it. It was text from Gloria. The text said, “SO SORRY. Dad has the car, so I had to take the bike, then I had to refill the bike’s tires with air. That’s why it’s taking so long. So sorry.”
Allison put her phone away. She looked at her watch. 12:06.
A few minutes passed. Might as well have lunch until Gloria gets here, Allison thought. She went to the counter and said, “Hi. Can I have a grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate chip muffin?”
“Sure,” the clerk said. “That’s…that’s $8.75.”
That’s pricey, Allison thought. Whatever. She handed the clerk a ten dollar bill, got her change, and went back to her seat.
A minute or two later, Allison went back to the counter and got her food. Her grilled cheese sandwich and muffin were on a green, square plate. The sandwich was cut into two halves. Allison picked up one of the halves.
It’s like they want me to share a piece, she thought. Share…
Allison began to think about fourth grade gym class.
Allison and all the other kids were seated on the gym floor. The gym teacher stood over
them and said, “Okay, kids. Today, we’re playing kickball. I’m gonna pick two captains, and the
captains will pick their teams. Okay?”
The gym teacher pointed at two different students and said, “Rick, Anna, you’re
captains.” Rick and Anna got up and went towards him. “Anna,” the teacher said, “you’re first.”
Anna pointed at a boy and said, “Ted.”
Rick pointed and said, “Gloria.” Gloria got up and went to Rick. She whispered in his
ear, “Pick Allison.”
“Allison?” Rick said. “No. She sucks!”
“Just pick her. Come on.”
It was Rick’s turn again. “Dave,” Rick said.
Before long, most of the kids were picked. Only Allison and two other kids remained.
“Sandy,” Anna said.
Now it was just Allison and someone else.
Gloria whispered, “Just pick Allison, Rick.”
Rick sighed. “Fine,” he said.
Rick pointed and said, “Allison.”
Allison got up and went to Gloria. “Did you see that?” Allison said. “I’m not last!”
“You’re welcome,” Gloria said, smiling.
In about an hour, gym class was over. The class was now eating lunch in the cafeteria. Allison and Gloria were sitting next to each other, at a lunch table.
“So,” Gloria said, “how did it feel, not being last?”
“Good,” Allison said.
“Great.” Gloria opened her lunch box.
“What do you have?” Allison said.
“An apple,” Gloria said. “And a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Gloria took the sandwich out of her lunch box. The sandwich was cut into two halves.
“Can I have one?” Allison said, pointing to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Sure,” Gloria said as she gave a half to Allison.
“Thanks,” Allison said. She took a pack of Fruit Gushers out of her lunchbox and said, “Here, have some.”
“Thanks, Allison,” Gloria said as she took some Fruit Gushers.
Ding! The doorbell rang. Allison looked at the door. Someone just left the coffee shop. It wasn’t Gloria.
Allison looked at her watch. 12:22. She looked down at her plate. She had already finished her muffin. Only the muffin’s crumbs littered the plate. One-half of Allison’s grilled chesses sandwich remained on her plate. The half was untouched, without a single bite.
Allison pushed the plate away from her.
Just then, the door chime dinged. This time, it was Gloria.
This wasn’t the Gloria from pre-school, that’s for sure. Those glasses were gone. Now, Gloria had eye contacts. She also straightened her hair and started to wear black eyeliner.
Allison wasn’t thinking about Gloria’s new look. Instead, Allison was thinking about Gloria’s body. Gloria was rail-skinny. She had no arm muscles – her arms were just skin and bone. Gloria had no waist at all, and her boobs were non-existent. Not to mention that Gloria’s “skinny pants” looked saggy because of her thin legs.
Gloria wasn’t quite a walking skeleton. But she was real close.
Gloria’s starving herself again, Allison thought.
Gloria went to the counter and ordered something. A few seconds later, the clerk gave Gloria a cup of water. No food.
Not the first time that Gloria starved herself, Allison thought.
It was seventh grade. Allison and Gloria were eating lunch together, as usual.
“Want some Fruit Gushers?” Allison asked Gloria.
“Sure,” Gloria said as she took some.
Gloria took something out of her pocket and put it on the table.
“What’s that?” Allison said.
“Tickets to a Jonas Brothers concert,” Gloria said.
“The Jonas Brothers?” Allison said. “No way!”
“You wanna come with?”
“Of course,” Allison said. “When’s the show?”
“This Sunday at seven, in Soldier Field,” Gloria said.
It wasn’t long before Sunday came around. Allison’s dad dropped her off at Gloria’s house.
“Thanks, Dad,” Allison said.
“Alright,” he said. “Have a good time.”
Allison went to the front door. She was about to ring the door bell, but stopped herself because she heard arguing. Gloria and her parents were arguing. Not loudly, but they were arguing.
“Just take the train down there,” Gloria’s dad said. “That way you don’t have to worry about parking or traffic.”
“But I don’t like the train,” Gloria said.
“Dad’s right,” Gloria’s mom said. “Maybe we should take the train.”
“But I hate taking the train,” Gloria said.
“Why do you hate taking the train?” Gloria’s dad said.
“I just hate it.”
“Well,” Gloria’s mom said, “I guess we could drive to the concert.”
“Yes!” Gloria said.
“You wanna drive down there?” Gloria’s dad said. “Okay, fine. But just saying, the parking’s insane, and so is the Ike.”
Allison rang the doorbell. Gloria’s dad answered it.
“Hi, Allison,” he said.
Allison went into the house. She met Gloria and her mom in the living room. Gloria was wearing a self-made T-shirt. The shirt showed the Jonas’ Brothers’ faces, and the shirt had “Jonas Brothers” written on it as well. Gloria finished the look with tight-fitting (not saggy) jeans. And those jeans actually fit her, too.
“Ready to go?” Gloria said.
“Yeah,” Allison said.
“Great,” Gloria said. “Let’s go.”
Gloria’s mom was driving on the Ike, towards the city. The traffic was moving, but it was bumper-to-bumper. The highway was so crowded that drivers couldn’t easily change lanes.
A Ford pick-up truck cut in front of Gloria’s mom.
“Moron!” she screamed. “Geez, Dad wasn’t kidding when he said that the Ike was insane.”
Meanwhile, Allison and Gloria were listening to the Jonas Brothers’ music on an iPod. Gloria had one earpiece, and Allison had the other earpiece.
“So,” Gloria said, “which song do you want to hear next?”
Just then, the car’s windows shattered. Shattered glass fell on Allison and Gloria. They instinctively put their arms up to shield themselves from the glass. The car skidded to a stop, in the middle of the highway.
When the girl’s looked up, Gloria’s mom was hunched over the driving wheel. Blood covered her forehead. Shattered glass lie all over the dashboard and the front seats. Some of the glass was in Gloria’s mom’s hair.
“Mom?” Gloria said as she reached out and shook her mom. “Mom? Wake up! Wake up! Oh God!”
Gloria and Allison were now in the hospital. They were seated in the hospital lobby. The girls had minor cuts and bruises, but nothing major.
Gloria’s dad was pacing himself in front of Allison and Gloria. Tears ran down his face. Sweat stains were on his chest and underneath his armpits. He held his hands together, as if he was praying.
A nurse went to Gloria’s dad.
“How’s my wife doing?” he quickly asked. “Is she gonna be okay?”
“She suffered a severe concussion, and – ”
“Is she gonna be okay?” Gloria’s dad said, almost screaming.
“Your wife is fortunate,” the nurse said. “Her injuries were less severe than they could’ve been. She’s in serious condition, but she’s expected to survive.”
Gloria’s dad breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, God,” he said. “Thank you.”
Gloria’s dad knelt down in front of Allison and Gloria while the nurse walked away.
“You girls want anything from downstairs?” he asked.
“No,” Gloria said.
“No,” Allison said. “Wait. I guess an orange juice would be nice.”
“Okay,” Gloria’s dad said. “I’ll be back.”
Gloria’s dad turned around and started to walk away. Gloria looked at the ground. A tear went down Gloria’s cheek.
“Are you okay?” Allison asked.
“It’s my fault,” Gloria said.
“It’s my fault Mom got hurt.” Gloria put her hands into her face and started to cry. “It’s all my fault.”
“What? No it isn’t,” Allison said.
“Yes it is!” Gloria said. She turned towards Allison. Gloria’s face was wet with tears. “Mom got into that crash because I said I didn’t like the train. We took the highway just because I didn’t like the train.” Gloria stopped to cry for a few seconds. “If we took the train, Mom wouldn’t have crashed and gotten hurt. Because we took the highway, Mom got hurt. And the only reason why we took the highway was because I told her to not take the train.” She again stopped to cry. “So she got hurt because of me, so it’s all my fault that she got hurt.”
“No it’s not!” Allison said. She hugged Gloria and said, “It’s not your fault Gloria!”
Gloria’s face rested on Allison’s shoulder. Gloria was still crying.
“It’s not your fault, Gloria. It’s not your fault.”
Allison tightened her grip on Gloria. “It’s okay, Gloria. You heard them. Your mom’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay, Gloria. It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay.”
More than two weeks passed after the car crash. Allison and Gloria were eating lunch together. Allison offered Gloria some Fruit Gushers.
Gloria shook her head and pushed the Fruit Gushers away.
Allison took her Fruit Gushers back and started to eat them. Gloria had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (cut in two halves), a yogurt, and a Quakers granola bar. The sandwich and the yogurt were untouched. Gloria was only eating her granola bar. Very slowing eating it.
Allison put her hand on Gloria’s shoulder.
“Gloria, don’t worry,” Allison said. “Your mom’s okay. She just got released from the hospital, right?”
Gloria barely nodded. She didn’t look at Allison.
“So your mom’s home now. Don’t worry. She’s not in the hospital anymore. She’s okay.”
Allison again offered her Fruit Gushers. Gloria pushed the Gushers away.
“Gloria, don’t worry. It’s gonna be okay.”
Gloria didn’t answer.
“Gloria, are you okay?”
Gloria turned to Allison. “Yes,” Gloria said.
That’s the first time she talked to me since the accident, Allison thought.
The bell rang. Lunch was over. Gloria put her lunch back into her lunch box. Gloria’s granola bar was half-eaten. Her sandwich and yogurt were completely untouched.
On the way back to class, Allison held Gloria’s hand. You’re okay, Gloria, Allison thought, You’re okay. But Allison didn’t believe her own thoughts. She was worried. About Gloria.
Allison was doing homework, at home. She was thinking about Gloria not eating her Fruit Gushers, and about Gloria not talking to her.
The phone rang. Allison’s dad answered it.
“Hello?” he said. “Yeah, it’s…what? The hospital? Okay, we’ll be there.”
Allison’s dad went to Allison and said, “Gloria’s in the hospital.”
“What?” Allison said.
Allison and her dad rushed to the hospital. They made their way to Gloria’s room. Gloria was lying in a hospital bed, unconscious, with an IV attached to her. A doctor was in the room, standing over her.
“What happened?” Allison’s dad asked.
“Gloria fainted from lack of food,” the doctor said. “It looks like she’s been starving herself.”
“Starving herself?” Allison’s dad said.
“Yes,” the doctor said. “We found nothing unusual with Gloria, besides her lack of food. That means that Gloria was starving herself.”
“Is she gonna be okay?” Allison said.
“Yes,” the doctor said. He pointed to the IV and said, “She’ll be better once we’re done feeding her.”
After a few seconds, the doctor left so that he could meet with his other patients. Just then, Gloria’s dad entered the room. He was crying, and his shirt was stained with sweat.
“Hi, Tom,” Gloria’s dad said as he shook the hand of Allison’s dad. “Thanks for coming.”
“Don’t mention it,” Allison’s dad said. “So… Gloria’s starving herself?”
“Yeah,” Gloria’s dad said. “Ever since the accident, she wouldn’t eat anything. I don’t know what it is.”
The dads continued talking. While they were talking, Allison went to Gloria. Gloria was still unconscious. Allison put both of her hands on Gloria’s hand. Allison’s eyes started to water.
“Don’t worry, Gloria,” Allison said. “You’re gonna be okay. The doctor said so. You’re gonna be okay. You’re gonna be okay.”
Present day, at the coffee shop.
“Allison?” Gloria said, into Allison’s ear. “Allison. Allison!”
Allison jumped after hearing Gloria yell into her ear.
“Shit, Allison, you scared me!” Gloria said.
“Yeah! You were staring out into space, like this.”
“Oh, sorry,” Allison said, feeling sheepish. “I was…thinking. Thinking really hard.”
“So…you’re okay?” Gloria said.
“So,” Gloria said, “you needed to talk to me about something?”
“Yeah,” Allison said. “We need to talk.”
The uneaten half of Allison’s grilled cheese sandwich was still on the table. Allison pushed the sandwich towards Gloria. Gloria pushed it back towards Allison.
Allison sighed. A few calories wouldn’t kill you, Gloria, she thought. God knows that you need them.
Allison started to eat her grilled cheese sandwich. While she ate, she spoke.
“Gloria,” she said, “um…well – ” She stopped herself after she couldn’t find the words.
“What’s wrong?” Gloria said.
“You’re starving yourself again,” Allison said, “and I’m worried about you.”
Allison was right to be worried.
It was just three weeks before the meeting at the coffee shop. Allison and Gloria both went to the same high school, Walther Christian Academy. However, they didn’t see each other very much because they didn’t have the same classes. They barely saw each other during the day. They really saw each other at lunch. Allison and Gloria continued to have lunch together.
One day, during lunch, Allison sat next to Gloria and handed her a gift.
“Happy birthday,” Allison said.
Gloria unwrapped the gift. It was Four, the latest book in the Divergent series.
“Oh, you remembered!” Gloria said. “Thanks.”
“No problem,” Allison said.
The two were silent for a few moments until Gloria said, “Allison?”
“You’re still going to my birthday tomorrow, right?”
“You kidding? I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Gloria smiled at Allison. Gloria took out a photograph and gave it Allison. Gloria was in the picture, with another guy. The guy was a head taller than Gloria. He was white and had short, blonde hair. He wore a sleeveless shirt, so you could see his muscles. Gloria pointed to the guy and said, “That’s Bill.”
“Bill,” Allison said. “He’s that football player you’re seeing, right?”
“Right. He’s coming to the party. Maybe you could meet him.”
“Cool,” Allison said as she gave the picture back to Gloria. “Can’t wait to meet him.”
It was after lunch, near the end of the school day. Allison was at her locker, getting her books. She saw some short blonde girl holding hands with a guy that sort of looked like Bill.
Wait, Allison thought. That guy doesn’t look like Bill. He is Bill.
She saw Bill and the girl hug each other in the hallway. Then Bill headed off to class.
Bill’s cheating on Gloria, she thought. I gotta tell her. But not now. And not during Gloria’s party tomorrow. I can’t just tell her that her boyfriend’s cheating on her on her birthday. No, I’ll wait a week or two after her birthday. Then I’ll break the news to her. I just can’t do it now.
With that, Allison shut her locker and went to class.
Gloria’s party was at her house, with her parents out of town. The party was surprisingly safe, for a bunch of reckless teenagers. Sure, they brought beer, but it’s not like everyone was drunk.
Allison was drinking punch (she was one of the few who wasn’t tipsy) when Gloria and Bill met her. Gloria and Bill were locking arms.
“Allison,” Gloria said. “This is Bill.”
Bill quickly reached out and shook Allison’s hand.
“Um,” Allison said, “nice to meet you, Bill.”
“Nice to meet you,” he replied.
Gloria and Bill walked away before Allison could say anything else.
Forty minutes later, still at the party. Allison was talking to a black girl named Brittany. Allison was drinking yet another cup of punch.
“How’s softball going?” Allison said.
“It’s going okay,” Brittany said. “We had a game just yesterday.”
“Did you win?” Allison said.
“No. We lost nine to one.”
“Yeah. Too bad that’s normal for us.”
“What’s normal?” Allison said.
Allison smiled and tried to suppress a laugh.
“How’s volleyball?” Brittany said.
“So far, so good. Well, it’s the off-season now, but we’re excited for next year.”
“I bet, with that Regional championship and all that. You know, I’ve seen you play before. You’re really good.”
“Thanks. I’ve been playing since preschool.”
“What?” Brittany said. “Since preschool?”
“Yeah. Well, not for any teams – not until grade school, at least – but yeah, I’ve been playing with Gloria since preschool.”
“Like, playing in your backyard?”
“Yeah, stuff like that,” Allison said.
Just then, that blonde girl (the one that Allison saw in the hallway with Bill) went to them and said, “Where’s Bill?”
“I don’t know,” Allison said. “I haven’t seen Bill in a while.”
“I think I saw him head upstairs about half-an-hour ago,” Brittany said.
The blonde girl went upstairs.
Allison followed her upstairs. The blonde girl headed to Gloria’s room. Allison watched the scene from the top of the stairs.
Gloria and Bill were sitting on the bed together. They were holding hands. The blonde girl went to them and said, “What’s this, what’s going on?”
Allison couldn’t help but overhear the conversation. The blonde girl said that she and Bill had a date that evening, and that she got worried when he didn’t show up. Bill explained that he had to go to Gloria’s birthday party. The blonde girl continued to rail at him.
Gloria then asked Bill if he was dating the blonde girl.
“Yes,” he admitted. “I’m seeing both you and her.”
Gloria went out of the room, her face in her hands. She was crying.
Allison went to her and gave her a hug. Gloria slipped out of her grasp and went downstairs.
Allison sighed and looked at the ground. Maybe I should’ve told her about Bill and that girl…
Back at the coffee shop. It had been three weeks since Gloria’s heartbreak at that birthday party. Since then, she had lost weight. She was starving herself again, just like after the car crash.
Allison reached across the table and put her hand on Gloria’s shoulder.
“I know you’re going through a hard time right now,” Allison said. “I know you’re still upset about Bill. And I don’t blame you.” Allison stopped to sigh. “But I’m worried about you, Gloria. You’re losing weight again. I’m just scared that you’ll end up in the hospital, like last time.”
“Thanks for your concern, but I’m fine,” Gloria said.
“Gloria, you have to eat,” Allison said. “You can’t starve yourself just because you’re upset, okay?”
Allison reached into her pocket and took out a pack of Fruit Gushers. She offered it to Gloria and said, “Here, take it.”
“No,” Gloria said as she pushed Allison’s hand away. “I’m not hungry.”
“Take it, you need it,” Allison said.
“Thanks, but I’m fine.” Gloria got up and left the coffee shop. Allison followed her out of the shop.
Gloria started to unchain her bike. Allison stood over Gloria and said, “Gloria.”
Gloria looked at her.
“Just…just take care of yourself, okay? I don’t want you to end up in the hospital again.”
Gloria got up and hugged Allison.
“Thanks for your concern,” Gloria said. Then she mounted her bike and rode away.
Allison watched Gloria ride away. Once Gloria was out of eyesight, Allison looked at the ground and started to walk home. Just take care of yourself, Gloria, she thought. Just take care of yourself…
Allison was now home. She was in her room, doing homework.
The phone rang. Allison’s dad answered the phone.
“Yeah?” he said. “Yeah, it’s…what? Again? Alright, we’ll be there.”
Allison heard her dad rush into her room.
“Gloria’s in the hospital again,” he said.
Allison and her dad rushed to the hospital. They were in Gloria’s room. A doctor stood over Gloria as a machine beeped. An IV was attached to Gloria’s arm.
“How’s she doing?” Allison’s dad asked.
“Not so good right now,” the doctor said.
“Did she starve herself again?” Allison asked.
“Yes,” the doctor said, surprised. “She…she passed out while riding her bike.”
“She’s gonna be okay, right?” Allison said. She’d better be.
“Yes, once we’re done feeding her,” the doctor said.
Hours passed. Allison’s dad was in the hospital lobby, talking to Gloria’s parents. Allison was all alone, holding Gloria’s hand.
Allison heard someone enter the room. It was Bill. He had a bouquet of flowers.
Bill went to Allison and asked, “How’s she doing?”
“Not so good,” Allison said.
“Sorry I wasn’t here sooner,” Bill said. “I didn’t know she was here until now.”
Bill sat down next to Gloria. He put the flowers on Gloria’s stomach and looked at her.
“I hope she’s alright,” he said.
She’d be alright if it wasn’t for you, asshole, Allison thought. She looked back at Gloria. Gloria’s breathing had quickened. She was breathing better now than she was an hour ago.
“Don’t worry,” Allison said. “She’ll be alright. Trust me.”
Bill started to head to the door.
“I’ll be in the lobby,” Bill said. “Let me know if she wakes up.”
Allison sat back down and took Gloria’s hand. Gloria woke up and turned towards Allison. Gloria was, sort of, smiling.
“How’re you doing, Gloria?” Allison said.
“Okay,” Gloria said. “Thanks for coming.”
Allison tightened her grip on Gloria’s hand. “Don’t worry, Gloria,” she said. “You’re gonna be okay. The doctor said that you were gonna be okay.”
Allison leaned over and tried to hug Gloria. “I’ll be there for you, Gloria. Don’t worry. Anything happens to you, I’ll be there.”
“Just like you’re here right now?”
“Just like I’m here right now. Just like I’m here right now.”
Allison took out the Fruit Gushers pack and offered it to Gloria. Gloria took the pack, opened it, and started to eat.
“Need anything else?” Allison said.
“No, not now,” Gloria said. “But I’ll let you know if I need anything.”
Allison smiled and offered her hand. Gloria reached out and grabbed Allison’s hand. Allison and Gloria stood there, hands interlocked, as Gloria ate the Fruit Gushers.