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This is my submission: 500 words of a contemporary YA manuscript. Warning: some foul language.
I went into my room with nothing on my mind until I realized my bed was empty.
"Carlos?" I called, pulling on a t-shirt and shorts and walking out into the hall. It was empty. "Carlos?" I yelled down but heard nothing. No scrambling in the kitchen, no water running in the first floor bathroom, nothing.
I turned to my mom's bedroom and my chest tightened. It was hard to breathe. The lights spilled onto the hallway from the sliver under the door. I ran and threw the door open. Carlos lay sprawled on the floor, his face down, and an empty vial of meds clutched in his hand. The white pills scattered on the floor. I fell to my knees beside him, my mind racing with prayers to all the gods I'd prayed to in the past: Jesus, Buddha, Allah, the fucking Universe.
Don’t let him die.
I rolled him on his back and with trembling fingers, touched his carotid artery. He was alive. I scrambled to the nightstand and took the phone. It wasn't until I spoke that I realized I was crying.
This was not the first time an ambulance was parked in front of my house, but it wasn't mom they were hauling away. It was my friend, my brother. I was ready to castrate the EMT who answered the call if he gave me any shit while Carlos fought for his life. He didn’t. And he didn’t protest when I gathered my things and jumped behind with them, unable to speak. I dared not to look into Carlos’s face while he laid there, the medics putting a line into him.
“What he take?” the medic asked.
I gave him the empty vial. I couldn’t talk. My heart was wedged in my throat.
Arriving at the hospital, they disappeared behind the door, past the unknown. Nothing good came from going through those double doors. The triage nurse, a tall lanky woman, came over to me and asked if I knew his parents. I nodded, took out my phone, and gave her the number.
I had met Carlos's dad once during report card pick-up. It was by chance that we were in the same room. Mr. Rodriguez was a short fat man with a high forehead and beady lizard eyes. Carlos didn't look at me during that encounter. His head was bowed low, his eyes examining the floor. He looked like a kid who had folded in on himself to protect himself from the beating that was to come. It wasn't a physical beating, but a beating of words.
"You are so fuckin useless," Mr. Rodriguez muttered loud enough for everyone to hear. "You're just like your bitch mother."
It was all I heard that day. We never talked about his parents. I never knew how he lived or what he was going through living there because I was too afraid to ask. I couldn't take away his pains. I couldn't take him away from his life.