How to Save a Life

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How to Save a Life Page 6

by Amber Nation

  Realizing she was still waiting on my answer, I said, “Black, two sugars, please."

  Nodding her head, she went to work on my coffee while I kept an eye on her omelet.

  Things were kind of awkward between us and I wondered if she was embarrassed about seeing me in all my naked glory. She liked what she saw, she was just trying to cover it up with her smart mouth.

  “You seem different this morning."

  “Different, how?" I quipped. I began racking my brain trying to think if I was acting any different.

  “You seem…happy I guess. Nice even, you even laughed a bit and smiled. It was…nice." Her cheeks turned flushed. She stirred my coffee with a small spoon and tapped off the liquid remnants on the side of my mug before placing it next to me.

  I almost started feeling a little nervous at the thought of her being flirtatious with me.

  I flipped her omelet over so the underside would cook thoroughly as she again spoke up.

  “You must’ve gotten over your PMS’ing."

  I whirled around to see her back to me as she placed the milk back in my fridge.

  Sheridan and her smart mouth was going to get her into trouble one of these days.

  We each took our plates into the living room and sat respectively on opposite ends of the couch, making sure there was plenty of room in between us.

  She was sending all sorts of mixed signals, so I thought I should stick to my original plan of not wanting anything to do with her.

  I reached for the remote off of the coffee table and she ended up snatching it up just a split second before me.

  “What do you think you are doing?" I asked in a no nonsense tone. This was my house wasn’t it? Who did she think she was just stealing my remote and manning the TV?

  She continued to sit back on the couch, casually flipping through the on screen guide, trying to find something suitable to her liking I supposed.

  Finally ending her perusal on a show that I hadn’t watched in years, she tucked the remote underneath her thigh and picked up her fork so she could start digging into her omelet.

  “Mmm…this is really good, Mike, thank you."

  “Sure, but why are we watching this?" I scoffed.

  “Are you pouting because we are watching Roseanne? I absolutely love this show. And even though it had the most epic ending ever, my favorites are still the early years."

  I sat back and began devouring my own omelet and in between taking sips of the coffee Sheridan made. I knew she didn’t do anything different to it, and even though I actually brewed the coffee, it still tasted better than any I had ever made.

  The episode that was on was a fight between the oldest daughter Becky and Roseanne. I believed that’s what most of the episodes consisted of; a fight amongst someone within the family. But like any good sitcom, it was resolved by then end of the thirty minute time slot.

  “You know what I like most about this show?" Sheridan spoke in the midst of swallowing a bite, breaking the silence that ensued between us after a few minutes.

  “What’s that?" Normally it wouldn’t matter to me either way whether she answered or not. But I felt almost as if I wanted to get to know her better, what made her tick, what she was afraid of.

  She pointed her fork at my TV to accentuate what she was trying to convey. “The fact that they are a regular family, they didn’t have much money. Hell half of the time they would call the utility company and tell them some kind of fly by the seat of their pants lie that their check ended up being sent to the cable company. When, in fact, they just didn’t have the money to pay for it. But whatever obstacle they faced, they did it as a family. They may not have been your typical All American family, but what I wouldn’t have given to be part of the Conner clan."

  She sounded almost sad towards the end of her explaining. I wondered if her home life was less than to be desired.

  “Did you not have a good life growing up?" I didn’t think before I reacted, but I couldn’t just sit and stew on it, I needed to know.

  “No, nothing like that. I had a fantastic childhood, never lacked for anything. I was an only child and my dad started having heart problems early on, but that has never really stopped him from enjoying life. My mom is absolutely amazing, my best friend, but she is so extremely soft spoken, I don’t think I’d ever heard her yell at anyone a day in her life. See the reason why I wished I was part of the Conner family, even though I know they are fictional, it’s the fact that Roseanne never took shit from anyone. If a boy didn’t treat either of her daughters with anything less than the utmost respect, she effing told them about it. I don’t blame my family at all, because overall it was my fault. But if I had been a little less blinded by love and my mom a little more forceful in her actions, then maybe my outcome would’ve been a whole lot different."

  “Well, what about your dad, couldn’t he have done anything?"

  “Well, as I said my dad has heart problems, he never really knew the entirety of what went on. I think if he knew even close to the extent of what I’ve endured, it would kill him. So keeping him secretly in the dark, is what was best."

  “I see. And what exactly went on?" I got the impression it had something to do with a guy, but she wasn’t being any more forthcoming on her past.

  Before she was able to answer, not that she would have anyways, her cell phone rang.

  Looking at the screen, she gave me an apologizing glance and answered.

  “Hey, Mama," I heard her say. I had finished eating my omelet and was going to take both of our plates into the kitchen.

  I overheard her ask how he was so I assumed she was talking about her dad since he had heart problems.

  Having her talk about her parents made me miss my ma. She passed away six months after her official diagnosis.

  That was the worst day of my life. My heart broke for my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, but it was completely obliterated at the loss of my princess.

  I braced my hands on the edge of my sink and hung my head down low. Hannah would’ve been eight soon. It was something that I thought about every day, and even with time the pain never lessened. But for some reason today it got to me a little more. I didn’t know if it was the fact that my emotions were running rampant. Sheridan brought out every single emotion, even the ones I had thought that I had buried down deep long ago.

  That day was still as fresh in my mind today as if it had happened yesterday. The gut wrenching agony I felt, I changed as a person, honestly what parent wouldn’t? I would never have any more kids, I couldn’t ever place myself in the position ever again.

  Another valid reason to keep my distance from Sheridan, she was young and vibrant, and more than likely would want children. We couldn’t ever have anything more than a physical attraction.

  My mood had now turned sour, I needed to get out of this house, away from the thoughts of possibly wanting more out of life.


  I pulled in front of Ray’s Auto and shut off the engine, I was trying to decide if I wanted to go in or not. It was still early in the day, so Brock would still be working, and he would take one look at me and then the assault of questions would commence.

  Brock was really the only friend I had around Brown County, he was the only one I felt comfortable enough confiding in. Yes, he knew about my past, but he was the only one here that did, and I preferred it that way. If he had mentioned it to Tessa, his wife, I didn’t know. She had always busted my chops from day one, but that was just the type of person that she was. I had no doubt in my mind that if she knew, things would’ve changed between us.

  I wondered for a brief moment if Sheridan would get along with her, but Tessa made it her mission to get on everyone’s good side.

  I decided to go ahead and head inside, hopefully Brock would have some work for me to accomplish. Working on vehicles took me back to my roots, it was home.

  Hopping down from my position in my truck, I carefully closed the door and went into the garage through t
he open bay door.

  Brock was definitely working and by the sounds of what was currently blasting through the speakers, Ray wasn’t. Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero" was up almost a few notches too high, but that was how we worked best.

  Walking further into the bay, I immediately felt myself relax as the tension left my body. Just the lingering smell of grease and oil, my bad mood was rapidly dissipating. Now let’s hope that he had some disassembled car that I could tinker with.

  I went to the old Magnavox Shelf Stereo, something that was made probably circa 1990 and turned the volume down by using the control dial. Yeah, no remote for this thing, it even had the Cassette player along with the CD player. But inside a dingy garage, where there was grease literally in every nook and cranny, you didn’t want to have some top of the line iPod docking station only to be ruined by a miscalculated thrown wrench when you were aiming for the toolbox. Not that I was speaking out of experience.

  “Whoever that is better have a damn good reason for turning down my song during the best part," I heard Brock’s muffled words before I saw him as he was laying on a creeper nestled up underneath a newer Ford Fusion. He used his legs to roll himself out from beneath the car and the instant he saw me, the scowl he had on his face disappeared.

  “What if I would’ve been a customer?" I asked. Even though Brock was the manager, Ray still owned the garage and he wouldn’t take that shit from anyone even if Brock was his son.

  “I knew it was you. I don’t know anyone else who has a dopey ass walk. You shuffle your feet or some shit, it can be heard over the stereo, which wasn’t that loud." He slid back under the car on the creeper, “Why don’t you make yourself useful and hand me an Allen wrench."

  I walked over to the Industrial Craftsman tool chest and retrieved the tool requested and ‘shuffled’ my way back, handing him the wrench.

  I decided to lean against Sheriff Mitchell’s ’05 Monte Carlo SS. It wasn’t anywhere close to being new and it had some issues, but I absolutely loved its sleek black features.

  “So what brings you here?" Brock asked.

  “What do you mean? I come here all the time. I was going to see if you needed a hand with anything."

  I heard him say, “Hmm," before he pulled himself back out from underneath the car he was working on and raised up into a seated position, resting his arms on his bent knees, spinning the wrench in his hands.

  “I know you come here to work and that was my first initial thought that crossed my mind until I saw the guilty look on your face. You may not know or admit it, but you need to talk more than you need to work."

  That was just like Brock, he got straight to the point. No beating around the bush.

  I lifted my hat up off of my head and brushed my hand over my hair before barely setting it back on my head, the bill pointing towards the sky.

  “I just got to thinking about my Ma and then that led to thinking about Hannah. Having Sheridan stay with me is just letting all my pent up emotions run wild."

  Brock knew everything there was to know about Erin and Hannah. One night after we had put a restored engine into an old pickup truck, which was a bitch of a task, we cracked open a few beers and then he broke out the tequila. It started being guzzled down freely and the words just started falling out of my mouth. Before I had a chance to reel them back in, the entire story had already been told.

  Would I have told Brock my past without the copious amounts of free flowing alcohol that was coursing through my bloodstream, I couldn’t really say one way or the other.

  “Ok, let me get this straight. You have an attraction to Sheridan, yes?" I hesitated for only a brief moment before I reluctantly nodded my head. He continued on, “So you don’t want to act on that attraction, because…" He shrugged his shoulders, “You feel remorse because of Erin?"

  “Remorse for Erin? Absolutely not… Fuck that." I took a defensive stance, “I just can’t see myself falling in love with another woman only to be devastated in the most horrendous of ways. And I won’t ever have any more children. I refuse to go through that ever again. I don’t think my heart could take it."

  “Who said you had to fall in love with her?"

  He was right, but Sheridan wasn’t a woman who you didn’t fall in love with, I thought to myself.

  “Listen," he got up from his spot on the ground, took the grease rag out of his back pocket and began trying to wipe off some of the excess grease, which we both knew was a lost cause.

  The tone that his voice took, I knew shit was about to get real.

  I crossed my arms in front of my chest as an attempt to brace myself not only mentally but physically for whatever backlash he was about to bestow upon me.

  “Ok, here it goes. You and I have been friends for quite a while now right?" He was waiting for visible confirmation, so I lightly nodded my head, urging him to continue and get this over with. “During that entire time, I have never seen you happy. You may think you are fooling people into believing that you are, but you don’t fool me. Don’t you think you deserve to be happy?"

  He paused long enough that I thought he was finished, which I supposed was just wishful thinking, because the worst was yet to come.

  “Look, I get it man, really I do. If anything ever happened to Blake, I…I don’t know what I would do. And just thinking about it, fucks me up, man. But you have been wallowing in your self-guilt for far too long. It wasn’t your fault, she was with her mom. Albeit, Erin was a poor excuse for a mother, but you didn’t know that absolutely no instinct would kick in during the event of a crisis situation. You tried having the world balance on your shoulders and it was too much, you shouldn’t have had to do everything alone. A marriage is an equal partnership, most women aren’t like Erin. Believe me, if Tessa was, we wouldn’t be together. Life is too short to always dwell on the past, I’m not saying forget Hannah, because you will never be able to and you shouldn’t. What I am saying is try to move past everything, open yourself up to Sheridan, and get to know her. In the end, it may surprise you and she may be your happily ever after, because Erin sure as hell wasn’t. And if anyone would know it would be you, that life is too short. Hannah would want you to live."

  He went to retrieve another tool from the tool chest before he went back into his place underneath the Ford Fusion. I sat there in silence for what seemed like forever, really thinking about what he had to say. I did have to balance everything on my shoulders, because if I didn’t, absolutely nothing would’ve gotten done. I was basically the mother and the father in this situation, and I let Erin get away with far too much. But what was to say that the same thing wouldn’t have happened if Erin and I weren’t together. I’d been to several therapists and it always seemed like a waste of time and money to me, when all along I should’ve been listening to others around me. I still needed to think about opening myself up to Sheridan, it would be a giant step for me, but one I was leaning towards taking.

  I spoke up finally, “When the fuck did we become women, talking about our feelings and shit?" I needed a little humor to lighten up the mood.

  He hollered from underneath the car, “I don’t know, but don’t tell my wife, she would expect me to be in touch with my feelings like this all the time."


  I was sitting on the couch with my legs perched up in front of me and my arms wrapped around them when Mike came in. He left in such a hurry earlier, I didn’t know if I had said or done something wrong. We seemed to be getting along a little better, but then I had to bring my smart aleck self out. That was something I used to get in trouble by Pate for, but I had managed to keep it in check, and evidently with Mike all bets were off. I couldn’t seem to keep my smart ass comments to myself.

  Roseanne was still playing on the TV, I was really caught up in the old episodes. It gave me back a sense of life before the railroad collision also known as Pate came into the picture. Sadie immediately ran to his side and I just looked up into his eyes without saying anything at all. I
wanted him to have the first word to judge what his mood was like.

  “Hey," he breathed out still holding my eyes. He turned to look at the TV, “Still watching this, huh?"

  “I’m addicted now, and plus there wasn’t anything else on to watch," not that I really took the time to look, but he didn’t need to know that.

  Cue the awkward silence.

  He perked up and snapped his fingers, “I just talked to my buddy Brock down at the garage I work at. He said that Sheriff Mitchell is wanting to sell his 2005 Chevy Monte Carlo, he’s trying to get everything situated around here so he and his wife can move up to Virginia to help out his sick sister in law. It now needs a new transmission and a few other minor things, but I think it would probably be easier if I rebuilt it, not to mention much cheaper. Have you talked to the insurance company yet?"

  Cue my dumbfounded expression.

  “Why are you being so nice to me?" I didn’t mean to speak out what I was thinking, but it was too late to take it back now.

  He crossed his arms over his chest and widened his stance, which made my lady parts scream with lust. By him standing like that, it made his muscles in his forearms protrude out, and I was ready to beg for him to wrap those meaty arms around me as he has done before.

  Where the hell was all this coming from?

  He leaned an ear forward, “I’m sorry?" It wasn’t an apology, he was wanting me to further explain.

  I kind of shrank back into the couch before I began explaining, “I just… You don’t know me at all and here you are looking for a new vehicle for me, offering me to stay in your house, eating your food," I pointed towards the TV, “watching your TV Sometimes you act like you’d rather I not be here at all and other times you are just so nice to me, I was just wondering why."


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