Read Alpert (pg 361-362) in textbook. Then, write a 250- to 500-word fictional response for a character with this prompt: That changes everything. ----------
“This changes everything, doesn’t it?” she murmured mournfully into the darkness. The sheets rustled around her naked skin. The mattress shifted with her weight, springs creaking and groaning.
He flinched beneath her words, forced a shuddering breath into his lungs and fingered the gauze wrapped around his arms. His back was to her, having turned away under the guise of preparing for sleep. He knew nothing would be the same. Nothing could be the same. Somewhere along the line, he’d fallen for her. From the moment she’d grabbed him by the shirt, cold and wet from the rain, and kissed him, he was finished. He could never be for her what he once was.
He hesitated a moment, swallowed to rewet his parched throat. He reassured her in a voice far steadier than his thoughts. “It doesn’t have to.”
“Are you sure?” Her hopefulness crushed him.
“Of course,” he replied, but he could no longer stay in the same bed as her. “I should walk River.” He forced himself to get up, despite how exhausted he was. “I’ll be right back.”
When he returned from walking the dog, he slept on the couch.
He wore long sleeves the next day at work, hoping to avoid too many questions. But he was interrogated anyway.
“Are you alright, man?” Mason asked. “You look like hell.”
He gave a weak smile. “Thanks, jackass.”
“Are you sure you should be working?” Zoey asked. “You just got released from the hospital.”
He nodded his assurance. “I’m fine.”
“Dude, you sure you got this?” Bryan asked. “I can totally handle it.”
He rolled his eyes. “Of course.”
He had to ask Mason to carry the boxes of delivered books, so he wouldn’t tear the stitches trying to do it himself. He had to ask Zoey to manage the Literary Club meeting later that evening, because he was exhausted. He had to ask Bryan to cover the last hour and a half of his shift, because he threw up everything he’d eaten into the employee toilet.
They sent him home with worried glances and well wishes. He went without argument. But he wouldn’t leave in peace.
The tinkling of the bell announced her arrival, and his stomach dropped when he saw her.
“Oh,” she said as she caught sight of him walking up the stairs. “I didn’t know you were working today.”
“I’m not,” he answered, giving her the most charming smile he could manage. “I mean, I was, but not anymore.”
“He was just on his way to bed,” Zoey chimed in, giving her a hard look.
“I was…um…hoping we could talk?” she asked, glancing between he and Zoey.
Zoey answered for him before he could speak. “Maybe another time.”
Despite his wounded pride, he truly was thankful for the intervention.
She looked to him hopefully, but he could only shake his head. “I really should get some sleep.” Then he excused himself and climbed the stairs to his apartment.