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Need to Bleed
It had been six months since she’d found him in January of their senior year of high school, alone and bleeding in an alley off of their town’s main strip of shops. She was the only person who’d dared to approach him. “David?” she had spoken tentatively, and he’d just groaned as his head lolled to the side, murmuring a weak “go away” and shutting his eyes to block out the world. She’d been terrified. He was the “bad boy” in town, that troubled kid who got into trouble and always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong things. Emelie had been scared, but he’d needed her.
“Go away,” he’d muttered again, but his voice hitched in pain. There was blood, blood everywhere, and it took her a while before she finally got up the nerve to call the police.
“Hey,” she’d said softly afterwards and she knelt down at his side, touching his arm and shushing him. “It’s going to be alright,” she’d murmured, even though the situation seemed bleak. “I called for help.” He’d leaned his head against her shoulder as he cried, and she’d let him. He was weak and bleeding, and in a strange way his vulnerability amazed her. His tough façade had faded, and it was as if his bleeding allowed him to let go, to not care about who, what, or why anymore.
When the ambulance arrived she’d insisted upon traveling with him, waiting patiently through his surgery even though her parents tried to coax her away.
“David probably stole something,” they’d spoken disapprovingly. “Maybe he got involved in drug dealing, like his father. Come on, Emelie. Let’s go.”
But she didn’t budge until the next morning, when a doctor emerged and told her that he was okay. She finally left. She went to school. And the moment the bell rang she dropped everything and left, to return to the hospital where he’d finally awakened.
She was skeptical, at first. He’d told her that he had been running away from someone, a man who accused him of stealing his money, and that he’d been stabbed and taken advantage of. When she came home, her parents had chastised her, but she didn’t care. David was an enigma, but she vowed to figure him out piece by piece. And she did.
It took her a while. He wouldn’t open up to her, and once his wound had closed her parents did what they could to keep her away. They thought that he was stupid, and that he’d get hurt again because of it. They didn’t understand. Her friends didn’t understand either, when she mentioned him. Even David didn’t understand, not at first. Why would the innocent, straight-laced, intelligent Christian girl want anything to do with the flunking, pitiful son of a druggie?
She’d needed to bleed, to let out her emotions, and when he finally called her out one day after school and asked her what she wanted with him and why she kept bothering him after the stupid accident, she did. The words came tumbling out of her mouth, and she spoke about how she didn’t understand what had happened and she wanted to; she told him how she was so frustrated because her parents were constantly on her case, and by the time she finished speaking her emotions had bled into the air. He could tell, and he knew the only way he could patch her up was to talk, and he did.
He told her about his family, about how his mother had died when he was only six. He told her about his father, who couldn’t cope and had reverted to drug use to escape reality and how he had left David and his little brother to fend for themselves. He told her about the night when his father had hit rock bottom and stolen drugs out of desperation, because their sole income came from David’s part-time job and that was needed for necessities. That night the dealer had shown up at their house, and since his father had disappeared and there was nothing to pay for the drugs he’d taken, all David could do was run for his life. He cried. She held him. They both cried, and they both bled.
It took them a little while to speak again, but at school a couple of days later he approached her, ignoring the looks that her friends gave him as he spoke with her at his locker, and she’d smiled, and he’d smiled back. They met once or twice a week, just to talk or sit and be themselves and not care about life or the world around them. Her parents hated it. Her friends didn’t understand it. None of them understood him, but she did and that was all that mattered. And so they sat together in late May, as classes were just about to end and they were going to graduate. They’d met by a lake just outside of town, and the sun shone on their skin as they sat in the sand and it was around that point when they realized that a lot of things were about to change, and not in the usual way. She was supposed to go to away to college in the fall, but he couldn’t. His brother needed him. But after she’d gotten to know him so well, she felt like she needed him too. And he needed her.
“Em?” David spoke quietly after they’d sat there for a bit, a nervous edge to his voice.
“I think- I think I’m in love with you.”
The proclamation hung in the air, weighing down on both of them. She watched him, her eyes flickering with fear and apprehension, and she was surprised to see the same raw fear mirrored in his own gaze. But she was decided, and she knew he was, too. He wasn’t her Prince Charming, and things might not work out like a fairytale, but that was okay. They’d bled together, and they needed each other, and she loved him, too, and nothing mattered. She leaned in and kissed him, closing her eyes and losing herself.
Sometimes, she realized, you have to disregard society.
Sometimes, you just need to bleed.