Erich and Will stumbled into the apartment and slammed the door behind them. Both collapsed onto the living room sofa.
Blood trickled down through the grime on Will’s temple and his swollen right cheek was beginning to turn an odd shade of magenta. His shirt collar had been ripped and several buttons were now missing as a result of the scuffle. Dirt and blood stained his shirt and trousers. He still clutched his left side where his assailants had kicked him twice right before Erich’s timely appearance, which possibly saved his life.
A wave of utter relief washed over the young man as Will’s mind now registered that he was in a safe and familiar place. Every breath he drew brought revived the excruciating pain to his ribs and he broke down and started to weep. This aggravated the pain even more.
Erich, after catching his breath for a moment, stumbled into the kitchen to fetch some wet paper towels to start cleaning up Will’s wounds. He brought them over and began to wipe the blood and mud off Will’s face. The latter winced each time Erich made contact with his swollen cheek.
“Argh! Please! Not so hard!” he begged through mingled tears and gritted teeth.
“Sorry,” Erich murmured. “I didn’t mean for it to hurt. I’m just trying to see if there’s any serious damage too.”
He carefully examined Will’s face for broken bones, blood clots, anything that might require a visit to the emergency room. He’d been in enough scrapes himself to recognize the signs.
He reached for Will’s face and prodded the purple lump on his cheek. Will recoiled in agony. A sharp cry escaped his lips, making Erich pull back quickly.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go to the ER? Better safe than sorry,” Erich offered, with a weak smile, and gave Will’s shoulder a small squeeze.
The young man averted his eyes and shook his head. His face suddenly felt hot and his ears changed to the same shade of purple as his cheeks. “I think I’ve had enough embarrassment for one night, thanks. I’ll just take a shower and go to bed. Hopefully I’ll feel better in the morning.”
Will held on to his roommate’s arm to try to steady himself and get up from the sofa, then promptly flopped back down in another cry of anguish.
“On second thought,” he gasped, wincing and clutching his left side once more, “perhaps I’ll just stay right here for a while.”
Featured image: “Contemplating” by Gagilas. Licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)