Happy Friday everyone! It’s my birthday, so I decided to give YOU a present. “That Night” is a short story about the night that put everything in motion for the beloved characters of the Silver Linings series. It is not edited or polished, but I figured you would like it anyway.
“Shit,” Kyle Mitchell gasped as he stared at the car that had flipped over when he’d swerved into it. He scrambled out of his car and looked around to find no one else around. On shaking legs, he moved closer to the overturned vehicle. No one responded when he called out.
He only had a few drinks at the party. He wasn’t drunk. Was he? He didn’t feel drunk. Oh, God. What if the people were dead? He was going to go to jail.
If anyone could help him with this mess, it was Matthew Mitchell.
“What is it?” his father growled into the phone.
“Father, I need your help. There was an accident. The other car ran off the road and flipped. What do I do?”
“Call your brother. I don’t have time for this.”
The phone went silent, and Kyle stared at it. Nearly choking on the sob that clogged his throat, he raked a hand through his hair. Just once he wanted his father to be there for him. Was that too much to ask?
Eyes burning, he climbed back into his car, tossed his phone onto the passenger seat, and sped away. By the time he got back to the apartment, he’d nearly worked himself into a frenzy. He leaned back against the wall and took several deep breaths.
There was no way anyone would know he’d been there, right? Although there was the issue of the small dent on the front fender from where he’d clipped the other car. The second he took it in for repair it would be reported to the police.
Just then the door to the apartment opened, and Nick stepped out into the hall. He stopped short when he saw him. “What have you done, Kyle?”
His eyes rounded. “I—”
“You’ve been drinking?”
He swallowed. “I went to a party.”
“How badly was the other person hurt?”
Since Nick obviously knew about the accident, he had no choice but to answer. “The other car flipped. The two people inside were unresponsive when I left.”
“Did anyone see you?”
“What? No. I-I don’t think so.”
“Did you call for help?”
With a nod, Nick dismissed him, and he eagerly escaped into the apartment, but not before he heard Nick on the phone, telling someone to take care of ‘it’ discreetly. At least he didn’t have to worry about going to jail now.
As he sank onto his bed, he pulled up the local news site on his phone. There was a report of the accident, but no fatalities. The pressure in his chest eased off a bit. That stretch of road was dark; there was no way they could have seen his face. Even if they did identify him, Nick would make sure they kept quiet.
His father was right. He was nothing but a screw up. Tonight proved it. He’d been selfish and stupid, and now two people could be seriously injured because he’d wanted to have a good time. All he wanted was to forget about his miserable life for a little while. Was that too much to ask?
“Your parents were involved in an accident earlier. You need to come to the hospital right away.”
The bottom fell out of Dylan’s stomach, and he swayed on his feet as the words echoed in his ears. The last time he spoke with his father they had argued. He ended the call and stumbled blindly to the door.
“Where are you going?” Eli asked as he looked up from his computer.
“My parents.” His voice sounded foreign and hollow as he said the words. His tongue was too thick and his chest too heavy, making it difficult to catch his breath. “Accident.”
Eli cursed and jumped into action.
Spencer. Oh, shit. He needed to call Spencer. Or maybe he should wait until he got the hospital and found out how bad things were first. There was no need to worry his little brother if their parents were okay. Oh, God. Please let them be okay. What if they weren’t? Then what? What was he going to do? Please let them be okay. They had to be okay.
Eli’s voice broke through his panicked thoughts, but he couldn’t make out the words for the pounding of his own heartbeat drumming in his ears. The sour sting of bile burned the back of his throat. Swallowing, he fought to keep himself from puking. Whatever Eli was trying to tell him was lost, drowned out by panic and fear.
Minutes later, they burst through the doors of the hospital. Eli raced to the desk and demanded information. Everything after that was a blur. His parents were in surgery. He was told to sit and wait, but before he could find a chair, a doctor appeared. Dylan took one look at his grim face and froze.
Unable to speak, he simply nodded.
“I’m so sorry. We tried everything to save your father, but his injuries were too severe.”
His legs gave out, but someone caught him and guided him to a nearby chair. An irritating, high pitched noise started somewhere. He glanced around the room, trying to find the source, before he realized it was coming from him. He curled in on himself and cradled his head in his hands.
I can’t talk to you about this anymore, Dylan. I have never been so disappointed so in you. His father’s last words to him played on a loop within his head. When he closed his eyes, his father’s disappointed face stared back at him.
This couldn’t be happening. He was going to wake up any second now. He had to.
His head snapped up. Another doctor, another grim face.
At some point his hands had begun to shake. The tremors quickly spread as he stared at doctor, a woman this time, and silently prayed for his mother to be okay.
“Your mother is out of surgery, but she’s still in critical condition,” the doctor said.
His breath whooshed from his chest. “I need to see her.”
Fuck this. He jumped to his feet and tore down the hallway, following the signs to the ICU. People shouted his name as they raced after him. A big burly man appeared out of nowhere and blocked his way. Dylan struggled against him as he caught a glimpse of his mother lying in a bed with tubes and wires sprouting from her body.
Alarms sounded. At first he thought they were because of him, but then a herd of nurses and doctors thundered into his mother’s room. Crying out for his mother, Dylan continued to struggle as the orderly dragged him away from the room.
Spencer stared at the doors of the hospital. He couldn’t believe this was happening. One minute, he’d been eating pizza with his friends, and then his phone had rung. When Eli had told him there had been an accident and his parents were in the hospital, he’d gone numb.
Amber squeezed his hand, making him jump. He turned and looked at his best friend. Thank God she was here. He couldn’t face whatever was waiting for him on the other side of these doors alone.
When they entered the hospital, Eli was pacing the floor and chewing his thumbnail, but Dylan was nowhere to be seen. That was a good thing, right? It meant he was with their mother or father.
Eli looked up, saw him, and stopped. “Spencer.”
“What’s happening? Where are they?”
The sound of scuffling erupted around the corner, followed by the sight of his brother, yelling incoherently, being half dragged and half pushed around the corner by a giant of a man. Eli raced to Dylan’s side, trying to calm him, but Dylan shoved him away, slumped against the wall, and slid down into a defeated heap on the floor.
This was bad. Very bad.
Before he could ask his brother what was going on, a doctor appeared and Dylan jumped to his feet. The doctor said something quietly to him, and with a cry, Dylan exploded. Spencer watched as his brother rushed the doctor, but the orderly blocked him. Eli grabbed Dylan by the arm. There was yelling. So much yelling as security guards descended upon Dylan.
He knew he should go to him, to try to calm his brother, but his feet wouldn’t move. As if she read his mind, Amber left his side and went to his brother.
“How could you let this happen?” Dylan yelled at the doctor. “It’s your job to save people! You’re a doctor for Christ’s sake!”
“Son, if you don’t calm—”
“You are not my father,” Dylan growled at the officer. “My father is dead.”
Amber said something to Dylan then, and his head swiveled in Spencer’s direction. The agony in his brother’s pale blue eyes sent Spencer stumbling backwards. The ground tilted, dumping him into a nearby plastic chair. Their father was dead. He leaned forward and put his head between his legs. This morning he was too caught up in his own life and plans for the day that he barely acknowledged his father’s presence as he’d rushed out of the apartment. He did, however, remember briefly kissing his mother on the cheek as he breezed through the kitchen.
It took every bit of strength he had to lift his head to look at Dylan. Seeing his brother’s grief stricken and tear stained face, his head began to swing from side to side. He didn’t need—or want—to hear the words, but Dylan said them anyway. “They’re gone.”
With a strangled cry, he launched himself from the chair and ran outside, where he promptly threw up in the bushes. Over and over his stomach convulsed, until it was finally empty.
“Spence,” Amber whispered as she stroked his back. “I’m so sorry.”
He pulled her against his chest and buried his face in her hair. With a whimper, she snuggled into him and wrapped her arms tightly around him. He wasn’t the only one hurting right now; she’d lost his parents, too.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” she said as she pulled back and looked into his face. “I’m here for you, okay?”
Without thinking, he cupped her face with his right hand, his thumb gently wiping the tears from her cheek. Her eyes fell shut, and she pressed her cheek into his hand. When he realized he was leaning forward, about to kiss her, he jerked back.
What was he doing? This was Amber. His best friend. He had no right to kiss her, especially right now. What the hell was wrong with him?
“I need to be with my brother,” he croaked, before turning and going back into the hospital.