FOUR WEEKS LATER
Taylor has noticed Miles watching Alex during class and she’s not happy. At first, she assumed it was due to some sort of dependency or gratitude, which sprung from Alex taking Miles under his wing and introducing him to his circle of friends. But now, as time has gone by and Miles no longer needs to rely on Alex for support, Taylor is beginning to interpret the look in Miles’s eyes when he’s looking at Alex as being something other than that. It’s a look of something deeper and more dangerous than she’s been aware of before – it’s a look of admiration and perhaps even devotion.
But why? Why has Miles Kane entered Alex’s life and therefore Taylor’s too, when they were doing so well, so great without his meddling? And more importantly, and this is something which is driving Taylor to great despair, why the fuck is Alex smiling back at him instead of telling him to stop being such a nonce and fuck off? Ever since Miles has been introduced to the group, Alex has had less and less time for her and Taylor won’t stand for it much longer. It’s time to do something about it. It’s time to challenge Miles’s motives.
It begins with getting her girl friends in on the whole thing. It begins with accidental shoves and pushes, then mean laughter behind Miles’s back that are intended for him to hear. It’s all to crush his confidence of course, something which proves to be easily done. Soon, Miles looks over at her nervously every time she appears, and when he’s stood there, alone together with Alex in the hallway, talking about God knows what, she’s soon learned how to bully him into leaving them alone, making it possible for her to get Alex to herself.
Taylor thinks she’s got it made, when – one day – Alex betrays her by asking Miles to stay. She’s just appeared around the corner of the hallway, knowing exactly where to catch the two of them on their own. Miles sees her and readies himself to flee – and Taylor is already smirking and waving him goodbye – when Alex speaks the words:
“Miles, wait – why don’t you stay for a moment?”
Her smile turns into a frown and she decides: Fine – let them both have it, then. She makes sure that Miles is watching as she moves suddenly and pushes Alex against the wall, none too gently. Without further hesitation, she grasps at his hair and kisses him in an obscene manner; her open mouth is moving over his tightly shut lips. Alex’s eyes widen with panic. Next to him, Miles has gone completely limp and appears to be too shocked to look the other way, much to Taylor’s satisfaction. However, Alex quickly tries to dodge and to push against her, without daring to be rough. Taylor groans, unwilling to break the kiss and so, she lets him struggle for another moment before she breaks apart from him with a great huff and an angry shout:
“What the hell is the matter with you?” Her eyes are hard and thundering, looking as though they might combust at any moment. Alex pulls away from her with fear. “Are you really choosing him over me?” She adds sharply: “Is he really worth it?”
Alex and Miles are both blushing and pretending not to know what she’s talking about.
“What do you mean?” Alex stammers innocently, though he’s avoiding her eyes now. He’s looking away because he knows he’s hurt her feelings. He knows why, too. “Why do I have to choose between you all of a sudden?”
“You know why,” Taylor grunts, staring right into his eyes persistently.
“No, I don’t.” Alex’s eyes are so pure and youthful, Miles almost believes him. “Taylor, I’m sorry – I thought we were friends…”
“So did I, Alex,” she turns away from him, harshly, as though she can’t stand the look of him. “But it turns out you’re both morons,” she adds and walks away.
For a long time to come, Alex and Miles don’t talk about what’s just happened. Alex asks him if he’s okay and Miles replies:
“Aren’t I the one who should be asking you that?”
Alex chuckles, though his eyes are all dim. He wipes at his mouth discretely as he shrugs.
“I didn’t realise she’d be so pissed off with me,” he remarks sadly.
“I’m sorry,” Miles says.
“Why?” Alex offers him a small smile. “It’s not your fault.”
But Miles thinks it might be.
“What the fuck is Taylor’s problem?” Nick snorts a few days later, during lunch, when she’s ignored his gesture to come join them at the table. “What’s with the stick up her arse all of a sudden?”
“Yeah, man, she looks as though she wants to kill you,” Matt joins in, though he merely laughs at the moody expression on the girl’s face.
“Women,” Jamie grunts and shakes his head slightly, “I’ll never understand them.”
“Maybe you should go talk to her, Al,” Matt suggests as he digs into his chips and covers them in mayonnaise, “after all, you’re the only one of us she actually likes.”
Alex and Miles both exchange a look of concern and fall completely silent.
“I – I can’t,” Alex drawls, “I mean, I think I should just leave her alone for now.”
“Why?” Nick frowns. “She’s obviously trying to tell us something – like how pissed off she is about God knows what.”
“I know, but,” Alex clears his throat uncomfortably, “I’m the one she’s mad at.”
They all look up from their food, except Miles who’s known this to be true for a few days now.
“What do you mean she’s mad at you?” Jamie mocks him. “She adores you. Everyone knows that.”
“She’s always like: ‘Alex, darling, over here, darling,’” Matt impersonates her voice whilst chewing his food loudly, “’I saved you a seat, darling. Can I please touch your hair, Alex, my little fluff-angel?’”
“She doesn’t call me her fluff-angel,” Alex objects with a grimace.
“Oh, she does!” Nick insists as he backs Matt up. “On numerous occasions, mate. When she was very drunk at her own birthday party and then again when we had that lame school dance thing…”
“She was like,” Matt butts in with his little parody again, “’Alex, you’ve got lovely soft hair, darling. You’re the cutest little fluff-muffin there is!’”
“She absolutely does not call me a fluff-muffin!” Alex protests with horror.
“Alright, alright, whatever,” Matt shrugs, “she’s got plenty of names for you. The point is, she’s probably not that mad at you. I mean, what could you possibly do to make her stop adoring you so evidently?”
“Yeah man,” Jamie folds his hands behind his neck and leans back in his chair, “she loves you too much to be mad at you.”
“She doesn’t love me,” Alex tries, then surrenders with a sigh, “the thing is… She’s upset because I don’t… feel the same way about her. She’s been refusing to talk to me for a few days now.”
“Seriously? That’s so childish of her,” Nick says with a roll of his eyes. “She’s only trying to get your attention, man.”
“No, I mean it,” Alex tells them, “I think I’ve really hurt her feelings. And I don’t know how to make it up to her.”
“So why is it you don’t like her back?” Jamie interrogates with a sudden interest. “I mean, I’m just saying… She’s not exactly ugly, is she?”
“Of course she’s not ugly,” Alex tells him, “that’s not what this is about.”
“Does that mean she’s available?” Matt skips to a new conclusion. “I mean, would you mind if I – if we – tried it on? Not now, of course, but eventually. When she’s ready and over you and stuff.”
“Fuck off, Helders, you’ve never even liked her until now!” Jamie curses. “In fact, you always complain about her annoying you.”
“I do not!” Matt objects.
“First of all, you do,” Alex tells him, “second of all, Taylor’s not mine to give away. She never was.”
“Oh right, so you wouldn’t mind if I joined the race, then,” Nick laughs, “I mean, I wouldn’t want to get serious with her. She’s way too demanding for my taste. But see, a fling of some sort, I wouldn’t say no to.”
“What makes you think she’d choose you over any of us?” Jamie elbows Nick. The challenge is on.
“It’s pretty simple,” Nick smirks, “all I have to do is send her a dick-pic. That would give her a pretty huge reason to go for me over you losers.”
“Nick – bloody hell!” Miles is close to choking on his milk and he looks over at the other in outrage.
“Don’t worry,” Alex tells him, “he talks a pretty big game, but he’s just boasting. I know him.”
“Aw, look at that,” Matt cocks an eyebrow as he looks over at the others, “Al is trying to appease his little boyfriend over here. Alex, you really are Kane’s little voice of reason, do you know that?”
“Fuck off…” Miles mutters under his breath.
“Matt is right, though,” Nick continues, “you two are being such a married couple. You’re more married than my folks at home.”
“Now that I think about it,” Jamie interrupts with a laugh, “I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex actually turned down Taylor for Kane.”
It takes Alex and Miles another couple of days before they are able to talk about it. And even then, when they finally attempt to, there’s still something holding them back and making them extra precautious about the whole thing. It feels like their friends have been trying to tell them something. There’s a shyness between them and it’s been building up ever since Taylor kissed Alex is front of Miles. They both know – or at least seem to know – what’s been happening and developing in silence between them and yet, it seems almost dangerous to say it out loud.
But who provides the danger? And what can make it go away? Miles has been wondering if, in reality, Alex is aware that he’s been watching him from the window, sometimes in the middle of the night when Alex is asleep in his bed, with the duvet only covering up his middle-section, or sometimes in the morning when, conveniently, Alex is getting dressed slowly and methodologically, almost as though he’s putting on a show. If Alex knows that Miles is there, watching him, is he trying to tell him something? Is he daring him to admit his curiosity? Miles isn’t sure.
They both remain silent and avoid the inevitable until, one day, Miles snaps and takes a first step.
“You know, I was wondering,” Miles begins self-consciously one day when once again, they are walking home from school together, “perhaps you would like to come over at some point? At my place, I mean.”
“Yeah sure,” Alex speaks without thinking, “Jamie’s supposed to come over at mine tonight, but I can just bring him.”
“Oh.” Miles hesitates for a moment, wondering if he’s got the courage to object. “It’s just that… I was hoping that we could do something, just you and me. I dunno, I thought that maybe… we ought to talk about something.” Miles looks away and clears his throat. “Just you and me, I mean.”
Alex pauses with realisation. “Oh.” For a moment, Miles has no clue how he’s going to respond. Then Alex says: “Actually, I think you’re right. I mean… I’ve also been meaning to… talk. Just us two, you know?”
“Yeah,” Miles nods, “I know.”
Then Alex smiles at him, timidly. “I could maybe come over tomorrow night? I’d be on my own then. Would that be okay?”
Miles grins slightly, though he can’t help but to blush as he looks into Alex’s eyes. “Yeah, that would be brilliant. I mean – it’ll be brilliant to finally – talk – about things.”
“I agree.” Alex averts his eyes adorably and it’s making Miles long for him even more. “I promised me parents I’d go with them to the garden centre, though. I would have to do that first. Me mum wants these new trees planted in the garden and I promised I’d help them carry stuff.” Alex grins. “But I’ll come over as soon as we’re done with that. I can probably be there around seven o’clock?”
“Seven o’clock is perfect,” Miles smiles.
That night, Miles is barely able to sleep. The thought of him and Alex is keeping him awake and he’s going through the words in his head, the little speech that he’s prepared for him, the confession of love and devotion, and it’s all been prepared by Miles for Alex and Alex alone. Dearest, sweetest Alex who’s been so good to him since day one. Miles feels certain now that Alex feels the same way about him; he could tell from the smile on the other’s lips, and from the warmth in those dark, beautiful eyes, finding their way into Miles’s very soul every time. There is no way that Alex is going to push him away. All he’s ever done since their first meeting is pulling Miles closer than anyone before.
When Miles finally falls asleep, it’s only to dream of the other. He dreams of touching Alex’s soft hair and kissing his small, pink lips. He feels certain that Alex must be a good kisser, or at least he can’t wait to find out. He dreams of skinny limbs and the sharp angles of Alex’s body. In his mind, Miles has Alex pressed up against the wall instead of Taylor. He’s lifting up his shirt and Alex isn’t protesting this time. Alex’s skin is soft and smooth and perfect underneath Miles’s trembling hand. They are both so warm, their skin feels burning hot against each other’s. Miles is panting against Alex’s parted lips. When he fears that he’s going to scare Alex off, the other merely wraps his arms around Miles’s neck and makes certain that he stays.
So that’s exactly what Miles does; for as long as his dream lasts.
Little does he know that, in less than twenty-four hours, everything is going to have changed forever. But not in the way that Miles would hope or expect.
Miles has his tea early the following night, making sure to be back in his room by half six, in case Alex should be early. Miles’s Mum has given him a weird look at the table, as though she suspects what’s going on behind her son’s dreamy expression, but she doesn’t ask any questions. She allows Miles to leave the table as soon as he’s finished eating, only telling him to go comb his hair and make his bed since he’s going to have ‘people’ over.
Miles caught Alex and his parents outside the house, at five o’clock, when the family was leaving to drive to the garden centre together. The Turners all waved at him immediately, huge smiles on everyone’s faces. Penny went over to give Miles a hug, telling him it’s ‘lovely to see him’, then apologising for having to leave so abruptly. David laughs at his wife and tells Miles to come over for tea some day. ‘We’ll watch the match or something,’ he suggests, to which Miles is more than happy to take him up on his offer. Alex shakes his head with a grin, pretending to once again be embarrassed by them both.
“Sorry about that, Miles,” he says as he climbs into the backseat of the car, leaving his parents to be seated in the front, “I’ll see you at seven!”
“See you then!” Miles shouts after the car as the engine starts and David drives off and down the street, slowly.
Miles soon wishes that he’d stayed behind to wave the family goodbye a little while longer than he did.
When Alex hasn’t shown up or even texted him by eight o’clock that night, Miles begins to fear that his friend is having cold feet. Alex wouldn’t be so thoughtless to actually bail on him, would he? It’s hard for Miles to imagine what on earth his excuse might be, but stubborn as ever, he chooses to believe that Alex hasn’t let him down. Alex has never before done or said anything to hurt or offend anyone, especially Miles. For that reason, Miles waits around anxiously for another hour. But as he approaches nine o’clock in the evening, he knows very well that the garden centre will have closed a long time ago and that Alex must be avoiding him.
What on earth has gone wrong since yesterday? Alex seemed so certain, so keen… Miles had actually believed that he wanted this as much as he does.
“Where are you?” Miles whispers under his breath as he picks up his phone for the hundredth time to check for messages. “Come on, Alex, don’t do this to me… I’m not like Taylor.”
Or at least, Miles had always told himself that he wasn’t. That he was better than her, that he didn’t push or pressure Alex into spending time with him. But now he’s beginning to feel just as intrusive as her.
Miles sends the text message, reluctantly. He’s scared that Alex is going to get sick of him if he acts all worried and clingy, so he forces himself to keep it brief, to only send that one message even though his heart is crying for him to send thousands. Alex can’t possibly be angry with him, can he? He looked so happy earlier, in the car with his parents. He smiled at Miles so genuinely, he could not have been faking something so sweet as that. But then, on the other hand, Alex’s silence suggests otherwise. Perhaps Miles has been naïve. Perhaps he’s been an absolute moron for assuming the world about him and Alex. Just like Taylor did. Perhaps he’s finally beginning to understand Taylor’s wrath and her feelings of betrayal.
Alex never gets back to him.
At ten o’clock, Miles’s Mum knocks on the door, delicately.
“Miles, darling?” She opens the door carefully, popping her head in. “I thought Alex was coming over.”
“So did I,” is all Miles manages to tell her. He’s sitting by his desk with his back turned against her. He’s too proud to let his Mum see the disappointment and hurt in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, love.” His Mum pauses and lingers in the doorway. “Are things not alright between the two of you? Did something happen?”
“I don’t even know,” Miles admits, though it would have been easier to lie, “he won’t respond to my messages.”
“I knew it,” she curses unexpectedly, “forget about him, love. You deserve better than that. You know that, right?”
Miles shrugs, feeling defeated. “I guess.”
“Miles, listen to me – I thought he was different, too, but he’s no better than the rest of them. Or so it seems. You better do yourself a favour and make new… acquaintances instead.”
“Mum,” Miles sighs and turns around to face her, “he’s not like that. I know he wouldn’t treat me like… others have in the past. We probably just misunderstood each other when we made it seven o’clock. His phone has probably died or something. He’s probably had to make a change of plans without being able to tell me.”
“Miles, honey, listen to yourself…” His Mum steps into the room, approaching him slowly.
“I’m fine,” Miles snaps at her with annoyance when she touches his shoulder, and he flinches, “it’s all fine. We’ll sort things out in the morning, okay? He’ll show up eventually, he always does.”
“Huh,” she breathes suddenly as she has started looking at something, her eyes fixed on the window, “that’s strange.”
“His parents aren’t home either. Their car isn’t there,” she notes.
“See, I told you,” Miles says, wriggling out of her touch, “there’s a reason he couldn’t make it. His parents have probably taken him to dinner or something. I’m fine with that – just wish his phone hadn’t died so he could have let me know…”
Pauline looks down at her son hesitantly before she nods and pretends to go along with Miles’s rational explanations.
“Alright, if you say so, love.” She bows down and kisses his head. “Do ask for an explanation when you see him tomorrow, though. You don’t want to sit around waiting for anyone. You’re too good for that, Miles.”
“I know,” Miles sighs, wishing she’d just go away, “it’s fine, Mum. I’m fine.”
What Miles doesn’t expect is the ringing of the doorbell at eleven o’clock.
Immediately, Miles’s Mum appears out from her bedroom, only wearing a robe and her slippers.
“Bloody hell,” she exclaims as Miles exits his room, too, “if that’s your friend Alex coming to apologise, tell him it’s too late for visitors!”
“He’s four hours late,” Miles simply mutters, feeling utterly puzzled by the entire situation, “how can he be four hours late?”
“I don’t know, but you can tell him to get lost!” Pauline points towards the downstairs door as though she’s ordering her son to go down there immediately. “Should he not be in bed by now anyway?”
“Relax Mum, not every sixteen-year-old has a bedtime,” Miles retorts miserably. Even if Alex has changed his mind and come to see him, it feels like everything is ruined. Miles is distraught after having had to wait around for him all night without even a single message, and now his Mum is pissed off, too, believing that Alex is a poor excuse for a friend. Things couldn’t possibly be much worse than this. In fact, Miles isn’t even sure he wants to speak to Alex right now. He’s afraid he won’t be able to contain his emotions and his anger. “Can we at least get some privacy?” He shouts standing in front of the door, waiting to see his Mum disappear back into her bedroom.
“Make it brief!” She bellows with a great huff as she slams the bedroom door.
Miles takes a deep breath in order to calm his nerves. Then the doorbell is being pressed once again and Miles jumps, knowing how pissed off his old man must be to be woken up a second time.
“Stop ringing the doorbell, my Dad is trying to sleep!” He finds himself hissing as he tears the front door open. Then he stops and falls silent.
It’s not Alex. It’s Jamie.
“Jamie!” He says with surprise, feeling like the entire evening has been one big joke. “What are you doing here?”
Jamie’s never been to see Miles on his own before. Especially not unannounced. In fact, none of them have. Neither Jamie or Matt, or Nick, would ever appear on Miles’s doorstep on their own. Only Alex has ever done that. Miles is now looking the blond lad in the eyes and there is a certain uneasiness in Jamie’s expression which is making Miles’s heart jump to his throat. Oh God – something’s wrong. Something’s very, very wrong… Jamie wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.
“I need to talk to you,” Jamie begins, though Miles suddenly wishes he wouldn’t talk, “Matt just rang me, like twenty minutes ago…”
Oh God. Don’t say it. Please, don’t say it…
“Alex…” Miles whispers against his will, because he suddenly understands who this is concerning. “Alex! Is he okay? Did something happen to him?”
Jamie holds up a hand, telling Miles to shut up and let him finish.
“Matt just rang me,” he repeats in a sombre tone and Jamie’s never sounded like this before, “he says we must all come to the hospital. He told me to go get both you and Nick. He says we have to come quick. There’s been a car accident…”
Miles’s Mum is no longer moody or shouting when she’s driving her son and his friends to the hospital at a quarter to midnight. She’s painfully silent, like the rest of them. Miles is sitting in the backseat, in between Jamie and Nick. They are all looking down at their own hands, not knowing what to say. Nothing can be said right now that doesn’t sound foolish or inappropriate.
“Thanks again for driving us, Mrs. Kane,” Nick utters awkwardly, and Miles gets the feeling that he’s only saying this in order to break the heavy silence.
“Don’t mention it, love,” his Mum replies emotionally whilst keeping her eyes on the road, “if there’s anything you boys need, anything at all, you let me know. This is more important than anything else. Don’t even think about school tomorrow – hell, don’t even think about school for the rest of the week,” she blathers, and it becomes necessary for Miles to stop her.
“Matt told Jamie he’d meet us by the south wing of the hospital,” Miles says in order to derail her attention and stop her from driving all of them insane, “apparently that’s entrance C. Where ever that is.”
“Don’t worry, honey, we’ll find it,” Pauline promises her son, “even if we have to drive all night, we’ll find it. You’d think there’d be some bloody staff out here to help people with directions… So how come Matt knows? I mean, how did he hear about it so quick?”
“His parents are good friends with the Turners,” Jamie explains uncomfortably. “Apparently, Matt’s Mum is one of their emergency contacts.”
“Oh, I see. Aw, bless them,” Miles’s mum replies. Then she runs out of things to ask.
It takes them forever to finally arrive, so when they do, Miles is so desperate and anxious that he’s sitting on the very edge of his seat, ready to jump past Jamie and out of the car as soon as they make a stop. However, his patience is tested greatly when his Mum spends forever buying a parking ticket, even driving Jamie and Nick to insanity, too.
“Mum, no one’s going to check for parking tickets at this time!” Miles tells her sharply. “It’s past midnight!”
“You don’t know how long we’re going to be here for!” Pauline argues as she searches her purse for coins. “Your father would bite my head off if I got another ticket… Sorry, I realise that more important things are going on right now,” she offers Jamie and Nick an apologetic smile, “I just think it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Nick rolls his eyes slightly when she turns her back on them and Jamie is forced to bite his lip in frustration. Even though Miles doesn’t like the idea of his friends disrespecting his Mum right in front of him, he ignores it and says:
“Come on, we have to go,” he nods and gestures towards the hospital entrance, “Mum, we’ll catch up with you inside!”
The lads begin to run before Pauline can object.
“Matt!” Jamie shouts as they are running down the hallway and past the waiting room. They spot Matt at the very end of the hallway, seated in a chair, hand on forehead and a troubled expression on his face. “Matt!” Jamie calls again, until he finally looks up.
“What the hell is going on?” Nick asks him as they get up close to him, all trying to catch their breaths desperately.
“Where is Alex?” Miles bursts out against his will. “Is he okay?!”
Matt springs up from his chair and guides them towards the nearest lift.
“It’s bad, you guys,” he pants, his face having gone completely pale, “it’s really, really bad. Everything’s gone batshit crazy…”
“Just tell us what’s happened,” Nick pleads, but Matt is busier pressing the button in the lift, then checking his phone in order to remember the room number they are going to.
“We have to go right now,” Matt drawls as everyone holds their breaths in anticipation, “we were allowed in his room half an hour ago. My parents are still with him, they didn’t want him to be alone…”
“Fuck sake, Helders, just tell us what’s happened!” Miles cries. “Is Alex going to be okay? Is he hurt?”
“We’re in the bloody hospital,” Matt spits, looking up from his phone with hard, miserably eyes, “what the fuck do you think, Kane? He was in a car crash, yeah?” Matt draws a breath and tenses his shoulders. Then he says: “Look – I don’t know a lot by this point. But I think Alex is going to be fine. He’s a little banged up and he’s got a broken arm, but nothing life-threatening, alright? But it’s bad, you guys… He’s completely out of it. I had to leave him alone after just five minutes, he refuses to talk to anyone…”
“Is it…” Jamie pauses, unwilling to speak what’s on his mind. But Matt seems to understand, anyway.
“Yeah,” Matt sighs heavily, “his parents… They aren’t doing so good.”
Before he is able to elaborate, the lift stops and the doors open. Matt drags them out of there and takes them with him, running down a new hallway.
Matt’s parents have both stepped out of Alex’s room when they get there. They are both deadly silent, looking over at each other with dread and pain in their eyes.
“What are you doing?” Matt yells at them both by the time they’ve caught up with them. “You said you’d stay behind to look after him!”
“Matthew, lower your voice…” His Mum tells him, reminding him that there are other patients down the hallway.
“He’s not supposed to be alone,” Matt continues, angrily, and his calm, collected façade is finally cracking for his friends to see, “you said so yourselves – someone needs to stay with him!”
“Matthew, wait-“ Mr Helders makes a small effort to stop his son, but essentially, he allows Matt to go back inside the room. Matt closes the door behind him with a loud bang, forcing the others to wonder what the hell is going on in there.
Miles is standing speechless in front of Matt’s parents, torn between wanting to follow after Matt in his own desperation to see Alex, and between wanting to hear someone finally explaining to them what’s going on.
“We didn’t want to leave his room,” Mrs Helders suddenly says in her own defense when Miles, Jamie and Nick are all staring at them for answers, “the nurses told us that he needed a sedative. They told us we shouldn’t stay around for that.”
Mr Helders clears his throat and takes over from where his wife has left off. “He was so upset, he was going to injure himself if they didn’t find a way to calm him down,” he explains uncomfortably, looking both Nick and Jamie in the eyes, but struggling slightly with Miles, perhaps because he hasn’t yet learned the name of the New Kid, “the thing is, lads, Alex is going to be fine. But we’ve been told that David has died from a heart attack after the crash.”
“And I’m afraid Penny’s chances are very slim,” Mrs Helders adds as she wipes away a tear quietly, “she’s in a coma now, but they don’t expect her to wake up from it again. She suffered a lot of trauma to her head – it was so bad, the doctors suspected they would have to announce her braindead.”
Miles feels as though his entire world has been turned upside-down. His stomach is heavy as though he’s swallowed a bowling ball. He feels dizzy, like he should be sitting down. But all he wants to do is see Alex.
“We need to see him,” he hears himself saying in a raspy voice, “Matt is right – he shouldn’t be alone.”
“I’m sorry, darling,” Mrs Helders tells him kindly, even though she probably can’t remember Miles’s name either, “he’s finally sleeping. We’ve been asked to give him some time. I don’t think they would allow any visitors until he wakes up.”