I looked up from my phone and noticed him staring at me from across the street. Panic sprang in my chest before I turned around and ran into the crowd.
The crowd refused to part. As I shouldered one person and elbowed another, I realized there was a faint buzzing in my ears. I couldn’t hear the offended protests as I pushed, and pushed, and pushed. How was he here? How was he here?
Someone grabbed my upper arm and I ripped it from their grasp. I couldn’t hear anything over the incessant buzzing. Panic flooded me with much needed adrenaline, and all I could think was move. My heart hammered so hard, I was sure people could see it.
Finally, a gap appeared before me. Losing my balance as the person in front of me moved, I stumbled forward and dropped painfully to my knees. My phone was gone. I must have dropped it somewhere. By now, it was either trampled or stolen. Not that it would have done me any good, but I felt naked without it. Vulnerable.
I whipped my head back to see if he was following. The crowd was thick this time of day, and I couldn’t tell if he was close. Rush hour pedestrian traffic in New York were no joke. He could be one person away, or thirty. I needed to move.
Gasping for breath, I turn my gaze forward, and freeze.
He’s here. He’s already here. Right in front of me. But how?
He looked so concerned, just as I remember. He is my age and taller than me by an inch or so. His tousled hair resembled a clear night sky, and it doesn’t help the lights add a certain blue shine to it, leading me to believe he’s captured the stars. His equally dark, rich brown eyes are soft and shining. His brows are furrowed, his lips pressed tight, and I can practically feel the concern flowing from him.
My panicked mind is screaming to run, but my legs won’t move. I can’t do anything. All I can do is weep silently, and tremble.
“You can’t keep running from me,” He said, his voice rich and sweet. “I’m worried you’ll hurt yourself.”
I can’t make a sound. The crowd around me doesn’t notice the situation, or has noticed and doesn’t seem to care. You can always count on New Yorkers to mind their own business. At this moment, I just wish someone, anyone, would butt in. Someone please, help me.
He reached out with a steady, strong hand. His palm is up. The tears come faster, and I’m not sure how my heart is still beating. It’s beginning to feel like a trapped animal, flittering from one place to another beneath my breast. I’m pretty sure I’ll have a heart attack before he can touch me this time.
“Please, don’t,” I manage to breath out pleadingly. “Please…”
He bends down and places his face inches from mine. The concern is easy to read; I am not ready for the sadness behind those dark eyes. I feel his hand gently clasp my shoulder, and I feel myself trembling violently beneath it.
“It’s time to wake up.” He tells me sadly. “You can’t stay here any longer.”
I shake my head very slowly, eyes widening in terror. “No! No, not again, PLEASE!”
Please, I think frantically, please, someone save me! Please! Plea-
-se? My phone is dinging, and this crowd is driving me nuts. Too many hot bodies in an equally hot city on a ridiculously hot day. I take a quick glance at my phone, then another glance at the message I’ve received. It didn’t make much sense. Suddenly, I get the feeling someone is staring at me, which isn’t too unusual in this city, but it’s making me uncomfortable. Before I can look up, panic begins to blossom in my chest. I’m just being paranoid.
I look up from my phone. He’s staring at me from the other side of the street. The phone slips from my hand, the message ‘WAKE UP!’ still bright on the screen, and clatters to the sidewalk.
I turn, and run.