Brian’s Fault

Week 4: Written, January 24, 2016

“You’re in the hospital.” The nurse had to say it a few times for Courtney to get the idea. She was still waking up from the medicine.

There was a bandage on her shoulder, but that seemed to be the extent of the damage. And as she woke up, she remembered more and more — and oddly enough, getting shot in the shoulder wasn’t the most painful recollection in her memory inbox.

“What were you doing in that part of town anyway?” the nurse said softly, adjusting the sheets. “Nice girl like you has no business over there.”

The nurse was right. Ordinarily, Courtney would’ve never strayed so far off the beaten path. She usually kept her wits about her, and had a keen sense of direction. This just happened to be one of those occasions where, understandably, she felt a little lost.

It was Brian’s fault, she illogically deduced. Just hours prior, he’d given her no choice but to break up with him. Finding your boyfriend in bed with another woman can have that effect. The rough part, the sad part, was that the sudden break up left nobody happy. Brian, who thought the world revolved around him, still wanted Courtney (and other women) while Courtney still wanted Brian (all to herself). She made her decision impulsively, then regretted it, then regretted regretting it.

About the time she regretted regretting regretting regretting it, the sun had set and Courtney had wandered unknowingly into a dangerous neighborhood. There were people watching her in all directions. It was hard to decipher between the people who wanted to hurt her and the people who were scared for her.

She remembered turning around once she realized where she was, even taking a few steps. But then a shot rang out, maybe even a few, and at least one landed on her shoulder. She fell, and the next thing she knew, she was in a hospital bed.

“You’re lucky it struck you where it did. And that there was an ambulance already in the area. Should heal completely and you won’t even have to spend the night.”

Darn, Courtney thought. Returning to her apartment seemed impossible. Spending a night or two in the hospital would have been a blessing in disguise.

After she was discharged, Courtney walked home alertly. She wasn’t groggy anymore, but she was tired and hungry for her own bed. She walked quickly and safely, making sure not to wander off her trajectory. But every noise made her nervous, as if another shot might ring out at any moment.

Despite everything, she wished Brian was there to walk her home and keep her safe. She didn’t want to spend the night alone.

When she walked through the door, she was surprised to see her wish had come true. Brian was standing there awkwardly in the living room, sweat on his forehead. Who knows how long he’d been waiting.

“Brian, what are you doing here?”

“I missed you.”

Courtney wanted to smile, and at least this one time, she didn’t allow herself to regret feeling happy to see him.

“I missed you, too.”

“No,” he said, shaking his head. Then he pulled a gun out from behind his back. “I missed you.”