Unstable



By: Helen Newell

I stumble down the streets, unstable. People dodge me as I bump into walls and sway in their direction. I collapse onto the ground next to the mouth of a long alleyway in between a bank and a block of apartments. No one gives me a second look as tears drip onto the ground around me. No one, not even the staring, blank-eyed children offer help or ask what is wrong. My head spins.

 

I am leaning against the building next to the alleyway, and I hear a voice ask if I need help. I nod, not able to fully understand what I am hearing, and hands pull me up to a shaky stand from my position on the ground. My vision clears, and I see a man dressed in rags, holding a tattered knapsack in front of me. He asks me if I am lost, and I weakly nod. He helps me over to the side of the road, and I watch silently as he hails a cab. He helps me into one and waves goodbye, directing the cab to the nearest hospital. He doesn't seem to have a phone to call 911 with, but I still am grateful as we leave him behind us.

 

The cab is a small yellow taxi with a Fault in Our Stars advertisement on the top. I hear beeping but do not feel much of the car’s movement. My head is pounding. The seats smell like cigarettes, and the black leather is old and cracked. As the driver slams on his brakes and honks his horn loudly, I slam into the seat ahead of me and fall to the floor. I didn't remember to clip my seatbelt. The driver curses, and I feel myself slipping out of consciousness again. All I want is it to be all over. Why did I have to wander? I should have known better, and now it might be too late.

 

As my eyes flutter open, I see the dark-skinned man wearing a blue conductor's cap seated in the taxi. He is driving, and still swearing. He catches my eye in the mirror, and makes a sound of relief. I am lying horizontally on the seat now, curled up against one of the doors. My dark brown hair is fanned out around me, and my clothes are stained with dirt. I understand. I was lost, but that feeling is gone now. It will be ok.

 

We arrive at the hospital, and my eyes begin to flutter uncontrollably. My breathing is short. The door to the taxi opens, and two men and a woman wearing white reach their arms towards me.