Inimitable

United States

she/her
I drew my profile
Dancer, singer, actress
Student of ASL
B-Way theater nerd
Hufflepuff
I love Loki
Avatar (as in Aang and Korra, not weird blue people)
anime weeb (TPN is my favorite)
LGBT+ ally
~joined 8/10/20~

Message to Readers

Make sure to check out Prologue - Chapter Three before this! Any critiques are much appreciated :)

Untitled - Chapter Four

September 3, 2020

FREE WRITING

2
   “Hi...hello!” gasped Mei, sprinting to the front desk before leaning down, hands on knees, to catch her breath.
   “Hi, hon, how can I help you?” asked the woman behind the desk, typing away on a laptop without looking up.
   “I’m here...I’ve come to…” She took a deep breath, steadying herself and straightening up before continuing. “I’ve come to take someone home.”
   “Who are you here for, darlin’?” The desk lady still hadn’t looked up.
   “I’ve come for Jabir Reed.” The typing stopped abruptly and the woman’s head flew up.
   “You’re here for Reed?” she confirmed, finally taking in the frazzled-looking girl in front of her. Mei nodded vigorously. The woman extended a hand. “I’m Rita Kulski.”
   Mei took the offered hand.
   “Mei Zhao.” Mei shook Rita’s hand, then peered around the corner, tapping her toe anxiously. “Is he okay?” She turned back to see Rita staring at her, interest and a bit of pity mixing in her gaze.
   “Yes, hon, he’s fine.” She dropped her gaze again, shaking her head as she shuffled through some papers. “One of the lucky ones.”
   Mei didn’t need Rita to specify to know what she meant. Though the plane crash had only been that morning, news had spread quickly of the mysterious disaster. Dozens of news channels and websites all over the internet were headlining the devastating event. They covered the twenty-two casualties and the critical conditions of all the survivors, faces of deceased and injured men, women, and children scrolling across the bottom of the screen.
   But that wasn’t all that was special about this accident. Though government officials and airline staff all claimed the disaster was caused by a flaw in the engine, photo and video evidence, already seen by millions, begged to differ. Bystanders who had witnessed the plane crash and pulled out their phones, along with some who were actually on the plane recording, had released them online before anyone could stop them. Images of an ice-crusted wing and videos of a random streak of lightning were now carved into everyone's memories. Everyone who had seen it, that is.
   In New York, there's always so much going on that you kind of have to pick and choose which kind of news to tune in on. Natural disasters, political disasters, celebrity disasters - you can’t get it all. So somehow, though this was something much more newsworthy than which-moviestar-cheated-on-which-pop-singer-this-week-type news, Mei was sure that most people she had passed on the street that day weren’t even aware that twenty-two people had died in a freak accident that very morning. She hadn’t even known until about fifteen minutes ago. That’s when Asha had called her.
   Mei had picked up the phone with a smile and a cheerful “hello”, only to pocket it again in her car, tears streaming down her face as she slammed on the gas.  As she sped down the road to the hospital, she skimmed through radio stations until, sure enough, she stopped on one covering the plane crash. It was horrible, and listening to it only made her cry harder.
   Everything about this situation was messed up, even ignoring the obvious. For starters, she hardly ever cried. Even when she was feeling down, her years of experience as an actress helped her play it off without anyone noticing. She supposed it was just the suddenness and gravity of the situation that brought the tears.
   And then there was the matter of Asha. Mei had always liked Jabir's twin. She was spunky and confident, opinionated and stubborn. A perfect foil to her quiet, gentle brother. But on the phone call, her voice had been shaking the whole time, and was so quiet Mei had to strain to hear it.
   "If you could just sign here and here, darlin'," Rita broke into her jumbled memories. Mei took the pen and signed quickly. "He'll be in room 301."
   "Thank you so much." Mei turned, ready to fly to her friend's room.
   "You're lucky." Mei paused regretfully, turning back over her shoulder to see Rita calling to her. "You're friend there had a brush with death. You're lucky he came out on top."

Mei sprinted through the halls, ignoring the glares of half a dozen nurses, until she finally arrived at room 301, halting in the doorway. There, sitting in the small, white hospital bed, was Jabir. It had been over a year since they'd last seen each other in person, and the weight of finally seeing him again, under any circumstances, was finally hitting her.
   She took in his appearance. He still looked almost exactly the same as he had back when they'd met, about six years ago. His chocolate brown skin, his short, frizzy hair, his long, willowy limbs, almost too long for the bed. She smiled slightly. It was just like old times.
   But now it felt wrong. Seeing him there in a hospital gown, hooked up to dozens of little tubes and bags, a big bandage across his head, it felt so wrong. She almost started crying again until she saw his hands moving. That's when she realized he was awake.
   In his hand was an orange pencil, and on his lap a small sketchpad. His long fingers were making graceful strokes across the paper, steady and smooth. Of course he wouldn't let a little something like this keep him from his art. Mei couldn't stop a relieved giggle from escaping her lips.
   Jabir looked up. Seeing her in the doorway, he broke into an excited grin.
   "Mei!" he laughed, closing the sketchbook and setting it on the small table beside his bed before opening his arms, inviting her in for a hug. Mei couldn't stop herself. She ran over to him, tears once again spilling down her cheeks, and threw her arms around Jabir. She laughed out her sobs, breathing in the sharp, familiar smell of pencil shavings as she squeezed him tightly. She suddenly realized that she shouldn't have been that rough with him, but he returned the embrace just as strongly, and if she had made him at all uncomfortable, he showed no signs of it.
   Finally satisfied, Mei pulled away, plopping herself on the foot of the bed as she wiped at her nose with the back of her hand. When she looked back over, Jabir was staring at her with those gentle, insightful brown eyes.
   "Mei," he said, frowning softly. "Don't cry. I'm okay." Mei sniffed and shook her head.
   "Oh, don't think I'm crying for you." She gave another half-hearted chuckle. "Nah, it's Saturday, so we had a matinee today. We're all supposed to cry at the end of the show, you know." Jabir raised an eyebrow.
   "Don't your matinee's usually end around two?" He looked around for a clock. "What time is it now, around five?" Mei checked her watch. He was right: it was just a few minutes til 5:00 pm. Mei shrugged.
   "Well, forget about that. Asha said you told her you could leave tonight. Do you think you're ready to go now?" 
   "Ready to have me to yourself, are you?" Jabir chuckled.
   "Yes, I am." Mei crossed her arms defiantly, without any sign of embarrassment. Jabir shrugged and reached over to press a blue button on his bedside table. 
   "Amy's my nurse. She'll get a signal that I buzzed and be here in a minute or so." Sure enough, just about twenty seconds after the button was pressed, a young woman in blue scrubs came in. Both sides of her hair were shaved, and the section in the middle left long was tied up into a bouncy pink ponytail.
   "Ah, you must be Mei," Amy said, taking Mei's hand. "I'm Amy Kingsley. Jabir's nurse. He's told me all about you." Jabir blushed.
   "Before we let him go, we've just got to cover a few things real quick. It was nothing too serious, but as a head wound, it did bleed a lot, and we found him unconscious. We've had him hooked up for the past ten hours, though, so he should be good on that, though you'll need to make sure he's still taking in lots of liquids. He's got twelve stitches in. The bandage is just on for now to keep the swelling down. He can take it off when you get back home. It'll be a bit red and puffy for a while, so if it's getting uncomfortable, feel free to ice it. If the swelling doesn't go down in one to two days, make sure to call in with us. Also let us know if there's any swelling in other places, common headaches, nausea, fainting, or exhaustion. We'll be scheduling another check-in next week to look at the stitches."
   Mei nodded. They each signed a few more papers and answered a couple more questions, but it was all in a daze. So much had happened in the past thirty minutes, and she was still in the midst of processing it all.
   There was a plane crash.
   Her best friend had been on that plane.
   He was hurt and in the hospital.
   He was smiling and drawing.
   She was taking him home.
   She couldn't decide whether she was excited or devastated. 
   "Can you stand up?" Amy had taken out Jabir's IVs and was now helping him to his feet. He wobbled a little, supporting himself heavily on her shoulder at first, but after the dizziness had past, he straightened up and released her. He then turned to smile down at Mei, walking slowly over to her. She smiled back up at him, craning her neck to match his gaze from her puny 5'0". 
   "Ready to go?" he asked, reaching down to take her hand. She nodded, unable to hide her giddy grin as they made their way to the car.

   "Tea?" Mei asked from the kitchen, standing on her toes to grab a kettle from the shelf over her head.
   "Yes, please," responded Jabir, lounged across the couch in the connected room. Mei grabbed two teabags from a cabinet beside the open-top stove and reached forward, twisting the knob to high. A flame sputtered to life before vanishing just as quickly after a sickening pop. Mei cursed. She tried the knobs to the other burners, with no better luck. She'd have to add the stove to her long list of things she needed to replace or fix in her little apartment. 
   Everything was falling apart. She guessed it hadn't been made hadn't been made very well, but she didn't plan on moving from her apartment any time soon. 
   It was a cozy little flat on the fourth floor, with just a few rooms. The kitchen had a stove, a microwave, a fridge, a sink, and two large cabinets. Above the stove was a wide, clear window, giving a nice view of the city below. 
   Connected to the kitchen was a room that doubled as both dining room and living room. It had a small, square table in the half closest to the kitchen, and a tv in front of a worn, old couch in the other half.
   She had one small bedroom with a dresser, a desk, and a queen sized bed. It was also connected to the little bathroom. This was where Jabir would be staying.
   While he was over, Mei would be sleeping in her personal dance studio. She had transformed what had originally been a master bedroom or something else large like that into a rehearsal space. She had lined the ground with slick wooden floorboards and covered half the walls in floor-to-ceiling mirrors. On one side, she had nailed a ballet barre to the wall, and on the other, she had hooked in a large speaker. 
   For the occasion, Mei had moved a foldable cot into the corner, along with an old purple sleeping bag and two fluffy pillows. 
   Back in the kitchen, Mei faced the broken stove. Luckily, this was one of the few appliance-related problems she could deal with by herself for now. She closed her eyes and placed a hand on the nearest heatless burner. She felt her entire body go warm, her back especially searing. When she opened her eyes, her hand was resting, unburnt, in a steady flame on the stove. 
   "Saw that."

   Mei quickly pulled her hand back and whirled around. Jabir had his chin cushioned in his palm, and he sat smiling at her. She let out a breath and placed a hand on her rapidly beating heart.
   "Gosh, don't scare me like that," she exclaimed exasperatedly. Jabir shrugged.
   "You still haven't told anyone?" he asked. "Not Clara, not Bridgette, no one?" Mei shook her head.
   "Alright." That was one of the things Mei loved about Jabir. He never questioned or criticized anything, and was always supportive. 
   Mei turned back to the stove, filling the kettle with water then placing it on the newly lit burner. 
   As she waited for it to boil, she gazed out the window, watching the people pass by below. She liked people-watching. New York was full of interest, unique men and women from all over. 
   Her attention was drawn by a girl in the swarm of heads on the crosswalk nearest her apartment. She was dressed head to toe in black. Mei thought this must be extremely uncomfortable, given that it was the middle of the summer. She was pushing through the crowds, and even from far away, Mei could tell she was annoyed. 
   Suddenly, her hurried pace halted and she stood still. Confused, Mei leaned forward for a better look, even as the kettle began to shriek.
   Then she stumbled back away from the window with a gasp.
For those of you who have been with this story since the begining (and by that I mean @BlueWolf476), here you've finally got an introduction to Mei and more on Jabir! Hope you enjoy.

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  • September 3, 2020 - 10:04pm (Now Viewing)

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1 Comment
  • BlueWolf

    Yeah!!!!! What happens next??????? I'm dying with suspense here!!! :)!!!! This was awesome and I need to know why she was so shocked. I can't wait to see what happens in the next chapter.


    5 months ago