The heavy door slammed shut behind her and Levi shot his head back in her direction.
“Hey, you came.” He gave her a cheesy grin and held out a bottle of beer as she walked towards him.
“No thanks, I don’t drink.”
“I don’t want a beer belly.”
“You won’t get a beer belly from one beer.”
“I bloat easily.”
“Okay..” He rummaged through the snacks she brought trying to decide which to eat first. He finally started with a bag of chips. It seemed fitting since she wasted his salty snack the first time they met. She even got the right flavor, maybe she was paying more attention to him that day than he thought.
“You come up here a lot?”
“Yeah, sometimes you just need to get away from everyone and all the beeping machines and shoes squeaking down the halls.”
“I get it.”
“Do you? I thought you just got here.”
“Yeah, and I already hate it.”
“Why are you here?”
“Why are you?”
He untied his hospital gown and Harla had an instant flashback of the sight of his bare ass walking down the white halls. But he didn’t show her his backside this time. Instead, he pulled the gown down far enough to expose the ugly scars on his chest.
“Whoa! What happened?”
“My god, that looks terrible. Are you ok now?”
“I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out soon. Probably not though.”
“What’s wrong with your heart?”
“Everything. Congestive heart failure from a ventricular septal defect.”
“I have a hole in my heart and it has trouble pumping blood adequately.”
“Seriously? Damn. How many times have they, um-”
“Cut me open?” He pointed to a fresh scar on his chest and continued, “This is number four and only I’m seventeen.”
“How did you get a hole in your heart?”
“I was born with it but it wasn’t detected until I was three. My birth-mom was high on cocaine a lot and gave birth to me at home. It wasn’t until my grandmother, her mom, took me to the hospital because I was breathing erratically and they found a pretty big hole in my heart. They filled it but the damage was done, it already caused heart failure. I’m lucky to still be alive.”
“That’s insane. So Dianne is your adoptive mother?”
“Yeah, my grandma couldn’t afford to raise me with all the medical procedures I needed so they had to put me up for adoption. She still comes by to see me, not my mom though.”
“I’m sorry, Levi. It’s not fair that you have to suffer because of her mistakes. But at least you have a great mom who loves you and you made it this far. You’re still alive, that’s a good thing.”
He grabbed another bag of snacks, cookies this time, and sipped his beer. “I don’t know how alive I really am, I can’t do normal things like everyone else. I’m stuck with this stupid, weak heart and a pacemaker.” He glanced at the ground and noticed he was the only one eating. “Are you gonna eat something so I don’t feel like a fatass eating everything by myself?”
“Nah, I’m not hungry. Just ate dinner and I don’t really snack.” She wished she was in a bathroom right about now to throw her dinner up. She couldn’t believe how good he was at distracting her from her awful habits.
“You don’t eat snacks? That’s weird. Who doesn’t like snacks?”
“Some people.” Crap! She’s going to give her secret away if she’s not careful. There’s no reason anyone else needs to know why she’s here. It’s bad enough that her parents know, if it were up to her, they wouldn’t know a damn thing. But she had to be careless and overdo it. Now she’s stuck in a hospital against her will. If it weren’t for Levi, she would be planning her great escape right this second. “How did you get beer anyway?”
“I got friends in low places.” He smirked and she caught a glimpse of a small dimple in his left cheek that she hadn’t noticed before. “So you’re going to make me drink and pig out alone? You’re great company, I’m so glad I asked you up here today.”
His eyes squinted at her from the last of the bright sun rays reaching the top of the building. She watched them sparkle in the light. Even through the tiny slits of his eyelids, the lustrous blue gleamed and she was momentarily entranced by their luminous glow. If that didn’t deserve a drink, what did? She argued with herself and finally grabbed the beer from his hand and took a sip. She looked back at him expecting to receive a smart-ass remark about drinking from his bottle after he offered her a fresh one but all he did was wink at her. Just that simple gesture alone sent flutters throughout her stomach and chest and she knew this boy would spell trouble for her. Still, she scooted closer to him and leaned against his wall. Then she reached for the cookies and took the smallest of nibbles. She didn’t even notice that he slid his arm around her until she leaned back again and her head gently rested on him and not on a hard, concrete wall.
They shared the beer and cookies watching the sun as it set beyond the city of skyscrapers, its brilliant colors reflecting off glossy windows before fading into the night. She was ready for some trouble. Bring it on, Levi.