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Lillie

"A normal day takes a drastic turn."

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I slipped on my moccasins and walked to my desk where I gathered my notebook and psychology textbook. I lifted my head and stared out the window of the top-story dorm room I shared with my roommate, Chloe. It was a dreary, spring morning. Gray clouds veiled the blue sky. Rain was imminent, I was sure.

“Looks like it’s going to rain,” Chloe said as she opened the door and walked in the small room.

I broke my gaze from staring at the forlorn sky and budding trees to turn and smile at Chloe. “Yeah,” I said absentmindedly. Tossing my blue and white mini umbrella in my tote, I brushed my long, wavy brown hair behind my ears. I slid my iPod off my desk and searched for music to listen to during my walk to class. 

“What class are you off to?” Chloe asked. 

I settled on Modest Mouse and looked at Chloe. “Intro to Psych,” I answered as I placed earphones in my ears. 

“Have fun. Stay dry.”

I picked up the books I had gathered earlier along with my tote and looked up, smiling. “I will. Thanks.” Pressing, ‘Play,’ I slid my iPod in a back pocket of my jeans and music flooded my ears. I grabbed my keys and made my way towards the open door. “See you later.”

Chloe turned her head away from her laptop. “Later.”

I shut the door behind me and walked briskly down the hall. Turning the volume higher on my iPod I jogged down the four flights of stairs and walked out the front door, inhaling the fresh air. I studied the gothic architecture of the buildings that the university was renowned for as I walked the paths of the large campus, making my way to University Hall, or UH as it was more regularly called, to the UH café for a late morning mocha. I had learned in the freshmen seminar last summer that with the exception of a few buildings at the university, most were referred to by acronyms. 

Pushing the revolving doors of UH I walked in the entrance and turned to enter the café. I stood in line and glanced at the tables filled with students and professors diligently working or talking with one another. The UH café was a frequent place I would come to work or relax. 

Looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the budding trees, I pondered over my first year spent at the university thus far. Spring semester had recently started and while I knew I wanted to major in English; Creative Writing, I debated double majoring or minoring in Psychology. 

Snapping out of my brief reverie, I stepped up to the counter, pulled out one earbud and smiled at the familiar face. “Hi, Connor.”

Connor smiled. “Hi, Lillie. A mocha and croissant?”

“I’m running short on time. A large mocha, please. No croissant.” After paying for my mocha I placed the earbud back in my ear and moved to the end of the counter. I looked out the window at students and professors walking on paths that lined large grassy areas. 

After receiving my drink I turned and quickly made my way to the Behavioral Sciences Building, better known as BSB, for my Introduction to Psychology course. Thankfully the building was only a minute’s walk from UH. I opened the door and made my way to a lecture hall that sat 300 students. 

I pulled my iPod out of my pocket and turned it off as I entered the room and sat down in an empty seat. I tossed my iPod in my tote and pulled out a pen, flipping my notebook to a fresh page and opening my textbook with a sigh. I flipped to where we had last left off regarding sleeping and dreaming.

I took a sip of coffee and watched Professor Beckett walk in the room and get himself situated at the podium. Within a few minutes he began to speak, welcoming the students and beginning the lecture. For the next hour I listened to Professor Beckett carefully, took notes, and finished my mocha. As usual, the hour flew by. He concluded class with a reminder of a test we would be taking in three weeks.

I closed my books and stood, gathering my belongings and making my way for the exit. I tossed my coffee cup in a nearby garbage bin and fished for my iPod. As I exited the building I instantly felt rain drops. Noticing an unusually large crowd of people in front of me, a feeling of dread washed over me and I forgot about my iPod. What were they staring at? Had something happened? What held their attention? 

Everything seemed to move in slow motion as I walked through the crowd of people. My eyes were met with a young woman lying on the ground. Without thinking I instantly ran towards her. I dropped my belongings and knelt beside her. On her other side was someone who looked to be a student. I was grateful someone was helping this young woman who desperately needed help.

“I’m Heidi. I’m a lifeguard.”

I looked at Heidi. “Do you know what happened?”

She shook her head.

I turned away from Heidi and focused my attention on the young woman. She seemed to be entirely unaware of where she was and what was happening to her.

Drawing on personal experience of conversing with emergency responders many times due to epileptic seizures, I instinctively asked, “Did you have a seizure?”

Her eyes were fluttering and she was muttering inaudible words.

“Did you hit your head?” 

She was hardly moving and unable to say anything comprehensively. 

I looked at Heidi who was not doing much of anything to help the young woman. “Can you get some ice?” 

She stood and quickly walked away, presumably to get ice.

I turned back to the young woman. “Can you tell me your name?”

She turned her head and pointed to a box filled with papers. Through muffled words she said, “I need to bring that box to the professor.” She pointed to UH. 

I looked at the building which consisted of offices belonging mainly to deans, student advisors and professors. I immediately understood she was most likely a teacher’s assistant. I nodded my head. “Okay.” Unable to decipher which floor, much less which room, she needed to bring those papers, I knew doing that should be the least of her concerns at the present moment.

In the midst of trying to figure out what to do to help her, frustrating thoughts of the bystanders watching and no one helping her irritated my mind. I vaguely heard a male’s voice say he had called 911.

Where is Heidi with the ice? I thought. As I looked at the young woman I tried to remember the questions emergency responders asked me after I had suffered seizures. They had been called countless times, asking me calmly the most obvious questions, yet they were not always obvious to me after coming out of a prolonged convulsive state. What did they ask me? I repeatedly asked myself in frustration.

The young woman began to speak, helplessly pointing to the box of papers. “I need…I need to bring that box…to the professor,” she softly mumbled. While unimportant given her current state I understood how important this task was to her.

Turning away from her, I looked at one of the bystanders. “Can you please bring these papers to UH?” I asked him.

He immediately picked up the box of papers and started running towards UH.

I turned back to the young woman, questioning myself if her head should be elevated. I assumed she had exited BSB in a hurry, running towards UH when she slipped from the rain and fell to the ground.

Her mouth began to foam.

My eyes widened and my heart began to race. I thought she might begin to vomit. She needs to be turned on her side. I was hesitant to move her. What injuries had she suffered? Would I cause more damage by moving her? I did not want her to choke.

She seemed to be going in and out of consciousness, her eyes fluttering. Thankfully she stopped foaming at the mouth.

From the corner of my eye I saw flashing lights and a red ambulance pull up to the end of the cul de sac that was just beyond a large grassy area. Even though I saw the flashing lights I did not register that help was here. My attention was entirely focused on the young woman in desperate need of help. I vaguely saw a woman kneel in front of me.

“Ma’am, you need to leave. We can help her.”

That line must have been repeated several times before I looked away from the young woman to the emergency responder. I saw two other responders running to the young woman. Help was here. But I did not want to leave her side. I needed to know she would be okay. I needed to keep helping her.

“You need to leave,” the responder repeated.

In a daze I gathered my books and tote, stood and turned away from the young woman. 

I had taken not even three steps from the young woman when I heard the responders begin to question her. 

“Do you have epilepsy?” 

I already asked her that, I thought bitterly.

Without purpose I slowly walked through the crowd of dissipating bystanders. I recalled times when I had seizures in public; bystanders were always present. The inordinate curiosity and intrigue they carried disgusted me. At least the young woman I was helping most likely did not notice them. 

When I freed myself from the crowd I began to walk aimlessly on the paths of the university in the rain. Questions flooded my head. Did I help her? Would she be okay? Was she a teacher’s assistant? What happened to her? Was she bleeding internally? Images of the traumatic incident flashed through my mind. I was clearly in shock.

It was a perfectly normal day. I saw Chloe, listened to music, had coffee, went to Intro to Psych; all things I enjoy. And then I saw that young helpless woman whom I will probably never see again. Will she be okay? If she is a teacher’s assistant, will she come back to school? Did she teach?

I sighed heavily and my head dropped. I found myself standing in front of my bed. Not knowing how I had made it there or for how long I was standing there, I looked around the dorm room. Thankfully Chloe was elsewhere. 

I dropped my books and tote and climbed into bed. Listening to the rain pitter-patter against the window, I closed my eyes. Images of the young woman foaming at the mouth clouded my mind. Within minutes I gave into mental exhaustion and fell asleep.

______________________________

The majority of my classes were in BSB and I frequently studied in a small lounge area near the Psychology department. Everytime I walked into the building images of the young woman lying helpless on the ground flashed through my mind. I relived the traumatic incident countless times. Thankfully as each day passed the images dulled.

I was now taking a break in the lounge area, sitting cross-legged in my favorite chair facing the wall. As I sipped my mocha I prepared myself for my meeting with my Introduction to Psychology teacher’s assistant, John. We met regularly; he reviewed my typed notes from Professor Beckett’s lectures and answered questions of mine. John was a nice and easy going person who gave helpful feedback.

I checked the time on my phone before tossing it in my tote. I finished the last of my mocha and stood, collecting my books from the side table. After throwing away my empty coffee cup in a nearby garbage bin I grabbed my tote and began to walk down the adjacent hallway that would lead to John’s office, which he shared with several other teacher’s assistants.

When I arrived at his office I knocked on the door frame, for the door was open as usual.

John looked up from something he was reading and smiled. “Hi, Lillie. Come in.”

“Thanks.” I walked in and sat down in a chair across from him. I opened my notebook and took out my latest typed notes from a pocket folder. “Would you mind reviewing my notes?”

He nodded. “Sure.”

I handed John my notes and watched him scan them. After a few moments my eyes drifted to the edge of his desk which was pushed against the wall where a pinboard hung. I had been in his office at least seven times before and never had I noticed it. On the pinboard were several pictures and a few sticky notes. My eyes stopped on one picture in particular where he stood smiling next to a young woman around his age. I looked back at John who was still reviewing my notes. “You know that woman?” I pointed to the picture in question.

He turned his head and looked at the picture. “Yeah,” he smiled. “She’s a friend of mine. She works in this office.”

I was stunned. I never thought I would see that young woman again, much less in a picture with John. 

“She’s sick now so she isn’t currently working.”

“I know.”

John placed my notes on his desk. “You do?”

“She fell a few weeks ago. I helped her.”

He looked at me intently. “You’re the one who helped her?”

I nodded my head.

John’s face softened. “The doctors said she was minutes away from dying of a brain aneurysm but didn’t because someone helped her.”

I had no words. What was there to say? I didn't even know I helped her. Not only did I help her, I saved her life. 

John stood up, initiating a hug.

Trying to process all that had been said within the past few minutes, I stood and his tall frame leaned down, enveloping me in a hug.

I reached up and wrapped my arms around him.

A few moments later John pulled back and smiled at me. “Thank you.”

I nodded. “You’re welcome.” I paused. “What’s her name?”

“Rahi.”

I looked at the picture again. “Rahi,” I said softly. 

John sat down. “She should be back here in about a month, maybe a little more. Would you like to meet her?”

I sat down and smiled. “Yes.”

______________________________

One month later

I walked down the familiar hallway in the Psychology department, headed for John’s office. We had a meeting scheduled in five minutes. I knocked on the doorframe and was surprised to see several figures standing in the room. It was rare to see one teacher’s assistant besides John working in the office, much less several.

Instead of calling me into his office John walked into the hallway. “Hey, Lillie.”

“Hey, John.”

“Can you wait here a minute?”

“Sure.” I leaned against the wall. Instantly I knew Rahi was in the office. I figured John wanted me to wait in the hall to surprise me with meeting her for the first time. 

For some inexplicable reason I became anxious. The young woman I had helped two months ago, unsure if she would survive the traumatic incident, certain that I would never see her again, was now less than 15 feet away from me. I pushed myself off the wall and took a few deep breaths.

A young woman walked into the hallway. She smiled at me. “Hi. Are you, Lillie?” Her voice was soft and gentle.

I returned her smile. “Yes. You are, Rahi, correct?”

She nodded. “I am.” After a brief pause she spoke. “Thank you, Lillie. Thank you very much.” She wrapped her arms around me.

Published 
Written by Cora
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