And then the world stopped...

Submitted into Contest #48 in response to: Write about someone who always comes to the aid of others.... view prompt



It was cold that morning. So cold that you had to jump up and down a few times before you managed to open the car door. It was 5 a.m. in the morning, Monday. The streets were quiet, dark and kind of scary. You sat in your car, realising how cold the seat is. You started the car, or at least that was the plan. It made kind of coughing noise. 

“Oh shit.” You muttered under your breath and tried again. The car made the same noise. “Oh shit!” You said, this time loudly and punching the steering wheel, you sighed. Think, think, THINK! The voice screamed in your head. What to do? Who should you call in this hour? Who would help you out? 

You tried to twist the key one more time. Cough and quiet. You tried again and this time - no reaction. “Oh for fucks sake, come on!” You screamed so loudly and felt the tears coming. You sniffed, told yourself you’re going to be fine. You will figure it out. You got out of the car. The cold air wrapped you around like a blanket that was taken out of the freezer. It was so cold that morning. You grabbed your phone out of your pocket. 5:30 a.m., Monday, January the 1st 2020. What a great start! You thought. You scrolled down through your contacts list. Mum -no, dad - definitely not, sister - no, Karen - hangover, Jamie - no… with each name you realised that they will be either hangover or really angry and unwilling to help. Then your finger stopped at one name. The only person who would help you out. But can you do it? With the history attached? You hesitated for a moment and then you pressed the button. 

While you were waiting in your car, you thought if it was a good idea to call him. You bit your lip anxiously. It’s fine, he will take me home, I will thank him and we will get on with our lives. It will be fine! You said to yourself. You looked at the key again. Maybe this time…? Twist… quiet. No reaction. Twist and quiet. Twist and quiet. 

You gave up and laid your head on the seat. You closed your eyes for what felt like a few minutes. 

“El, wake up!”

You opened your eyes quickly. There he was. Standing outside, knocking on the window. You licked your lips and you unlocked the car. You smiled at him, carefully. 

“Sorry, I just closed my eyes for a second,” you said once you get out of the car.

“A second? I am standing here for 15 minutes! Freezing my ass off!” He said angrily. 

“I am sorry,” you said.

“It’s fine. Get in my car, please,” he said at last. Without a word you took your bag out of your car along with the keys. You locked the car, made sure it’s really locked and then you sat into his car which was warm and comfortable. You put your bag under your feet and put your seat belt on. 

“What are you doing in this area anyway?” He asked you as he started the car. 

“I was staying at friend’s house” you said. 

“Why did you leave so early?” 

“I just wanted to get home, have a shower and just chill out.”

“What friend?” He asked like he didn’t cared but you knew he cared way too much. 

“You don’t know him,”you said way too fast. A mistake.

“Him?” He snapped. “So who is he?” 

“Just a friend. Not my boyfriend if you need to know this,” I said after a short pause. 

“Yeah, right,” he murmured and turn to the left into a road. The sky was grey, an old snow was melting on the side of the road. Other cars were passing by. The world was waking up after the celebration of New Year’s Eve. 

You were watching the scene go by, wishing you were at home. The thought of having nice, hot shower made you realise how desperately you need it. Your hair lost its shape after a sleepless night and you could feel bits of mascara on your eyelashes. You yawned. 

“Have you had fun last night then?” He asked. 

“Yeah, it was alright. What about you?” Not that you really cared what he did last night but you wanted to be polite. 

“I was on my own, actually. Watched some tv, drank some beer and went to bed and then you called me, so… here I am.”

“You didn’t have to pick me up if that’s the issue. I would have figured something out,” you said a little bit offensively. 

“Yeah, sure. Like you always do. You will always need me, admit it. Such a drama queen you are,” he chuckled. 

“I don’t always need you,” you snapped.

“Oh come on. How many times have I helped you out? Every time there’s a problem, you always call me. Not your shitty father or stupid sister. Me! That must mean something. I think you still have feelings for me,” he said and then he looked at you with surprise. “You do, right?”

“No! Absolutely not! I realise that it was a mistake to call you, actually. Could have called a cab instead.”

Suddenly he pulled up on a side of the road. He looked angry, hurt. One look at him made you realise how much you hate this person. This toxic man who made your life miserable for 4 years. So many arguments, insults, bruises, fights. So much fear and disgust. 

“This was a mistake!” You said, grabbed your bag but before you managed to open the door, he locked the car. “Let me go,” you said, quite calmly. He didn’t respond.

“Let me go, or I’ll scream,” you said again. 

“We belong together. You know it,” he said quietly. 

“No, we don’t. We never did.”

“But I love you.”

“You don’t know how to love someone. You only know how to hurt someone. You hurt me so much that I have to find myself again. You broke me.”

“I didn’t…”

“Unlock the car, please. I want to leave. I will never see you again,” you said and looked at him. 

“El, I…”

“Unlock the car,” I raised my voice. 

He wiped the tears off his face and unlocked the car. “I can’t live without you.”

You looked at him and without a word you left the car. You started to walk away along the road. The wet snow managed to get into your shoes and made your feet cold and wet. You walked for what felt like a few minutes and when you looked back that’s when you saw the big white van coming way too fast down the road. He still sat there in his car, watched you walked away, not paying attention what was going on. You warned him but he didn’t respond. He looked into a rear-view mirror and before he could drove off, the van hit his car. You covered your face in a horror. The world has stopped…

You opened your eyes, carefully. Realising that you are still in your car and someone is knocking on your window. 

“El, wake up!” He said. You licked your lips and you unlocked the car.

June 30, 2020 14:35

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Gene Gryniewicz
13:07 Jul 09, 2020

I like it ... it owns, at once, a stiffness - which may have been from the cold - and a flexibility that drives the story to its conclusion. I didn't see it coming, and I am not 'sure' about the ending ... it works but it demands a re-read to make it work ... which is, I think, a good thing. Thanks for the story.


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Brittany Gillen
04:43 Jul 05, 2020

Lucy - I could definitely feel the cold in your story. I liked the description of a cold blanket taken out of a freezer. I was a little confused by the ending. Will her vision change her interaction with this man? I would have loved to see what happened in their "second" ride together. Thank you for sharing!


Lucy Frejkova
12:40 Jul 05, 2020

Hi Brittany! Thank you so much for your comment, I am glad that you could picture the atmosphere of the story. So the ending was meant to be in the way that the ride was a dream when she fell asleep in the car. I thought I leave it with an open ending as well but might do the second part :-) Thank you again so much for your comment!


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