Temporarily incapacitated, unable to speak, he blinks incredulous at me.
Once I’m standing, and he’s struggling to get around the pain in his throat, I drive my knee straight up under his chin. Andrew’s head snaps back, blood instantaneously erupting from his mouth. Back he falls, onto the asphalt. Further undermined.
Realizing just how down and out he is, my confidence rises. Maybe I can beat him after all? It can’t possibly be this easy, can it?
Apparently not, because when I move in to kick him in the side of the head, down and out as he is, he catches my foot, twists, and throws me to the ground.
Expecting the fall, I immediately put into action what Noah taught me. To prevent a head injury from a backward fall, instead of flailing my hands to gain balance, accept that I’m falling and lock my hands behind my head, and then quickly twist to the side before I hit ground. Better a few fractured ribs than a cracked skull or a snapped spine, he’d told me.
Therefore, I do just that, wincing at the pain racing up my side and the scrape of my forearm against that tar. For no more than three to five seconds, I remain curled up, only because Andrew is still weaker than I am at the moment. He’s pushed up from the ground as much as his single elbow allows him, blood trickling down both corners of his mouth like a vampire who’s just fed.
Uncurling, I pull my free foot back and then drive it forward, ramming him clean under the chin again. With a pained, gurgled noise, my other foot is freed as he crashes back to the ground.
Wasting no time, giving him not a second to regain strength, I jump astride him and begin doing the same thing Noah ...
... middle of paper ...
..., stopping traffic.
At the sight of this, my knees give out and I crumple to ground. He found me. He came. He found me.
Harsh, “hands up, don’t move” instructions are bellowed out, strong men drop to their knees with hands behind their heads. I’m vaguely aware of anything. I feel weak. So weak. But I don’t have to be strong anymore, because he’s here. My air. He’ll be strong enough for the both of us. He’ll breathe for the both of us.
Someone drops down beside me, and the orders from the cops become more urgent at this.
Andrew. I smell him. His scent is desperation. “Lotty…baby…Don’t go with…them. Don’t let them…take…you…from….me. Marry me. Save me…Save….me from…myself. I love you…so much. I…love you…so…much. Please. Stay…with…me. ”
Consciousness slips in and out, slowly abandoning me to the darkness. But I manage, before it overpowers me, to whisper, “Freedom.”
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