Consider (Holo #1) - Kristy Acevedo

Chapter 1

Day 1: August

When the Boston outbound T screeches to a stop, I lose my grip on the silver pole and slam into Dominick. His black-rimmed glasses twist on his face, but he retrieves my purse from the floor before straightening them.

“You okay?” he asks and hands me my bag.

I nod and try to act nonchalant as I glance out the dark windows at the distant headlights of highway traffic. The train has stopped somewhere after the North Quincy station. My mind begins to calculate and unravel in a spiral of possibilities. Could be a suicide. Or a terrorist attack. Maybe a car exploded. With babies inside. Decapitated. And one survivor, the driver, left screaming on the side of the road. Little bloody hands and feet scattered on the tracks. Tiny severed toes.

I fish in my purse for my anxiety meds and pop one little white savior.

“Seriously?” Dominick asks. “You already took one at the concert.”

“It wore off.” I swallow before he makes me feel guilty. Other passengers mutter about the delay, and each complaint seeps into my skin and mingles with my fears. “I knew we shouldn’t have taken the train.”

“Cheaper than parking at The Garden. Plus, no traffic.”

“Except we’re stuck.” Dad wanted me home by 11:00, and my phone says it’s already 9:45. If we don’t get moving soon, I’m never going to make it home in time.

The image of tiny severed toes repeats in my brain.

“Why do you think the train stopped?” I ask. “You think someone pancaked on the tracks?”

“No, no. Probably something electrical. Happens all the time.”

Pancaked. Brain oozing on the tracks. A mother with a spatula and tears.

I swallow hard and cross my arms over my chest. “I bet it’s a suicide. Or a terrorist attack.”

“No, it’s nothing. It’ll be fine.” He moves in closer and brushes my neck with his fingertips. “Plus, I love being stuck with you. Too bad you need drugs to be stuck with me. Stop worrying.”

He always takes my anxiety personally. Like being with him should be a magical cure since he cares. But telling me not to worry is like telling me not to breathe. It’s like tickling someone to cure depression.

To escape the gruesome images in my head, I trace the pale scar on Dominick’s middle knuckle with my pointer finger, the scar he got trying to gut a striped bass for the first time with his father. He tucks one of my golden-brown curls behind my ear. His thumb slides down my neck and runs along the strap of my sundress, sending shivers across my shoulders even though the air conditioner is malfunctioning as usual. His touch brings me out of my head and back into my body. I wish we were alone.

“I can’t believe we only have a few weeks left of summer,” he whispers.

I peck his cheek. “I know. It went by so fast.”

We both know what we’re not saying. Senior year. The pressure’s on. We started dating in April of our junior year, and only four months later, we already have to make major college decisions that could pull us apart. It’s time to start my slow transformation into Alexandra Lucas, Kick-Ass Lawyer, and I’m afraid to let anything distract me from that future. Even him. It’s hard enough for me to stay focused.

A sweaty man to my left bumps me with his shoulder and apologizes. His body odor absorbs my oxygen and makes my stomach twist. I lose focus on Dominick. To ground myself, I stare at the rainbow swirl pattern on the seats, the fake marbled black-and-white floor. The air becomes too heavy to breathe, too thick for my lungs to process. What if I’m being poisoned by everyone’s carbon dioxide? The intense urge to pry the doors open or claw my way out of the tinted windows for fresh air builds inside me.

Ativan, please don’t fail me now.

It usually takes ten minutes or so to kick in, so until it does, I need to focus on anything other than the fact that I’m trapped in a hot, crowded train. Think positive: at least we’re not stuck underground. Maybe I should pick a fight with Dominick. Arguing cancels out my anxiety. That’s why I’ll make an amazing defense lawyer, arguing my way to mental health while helping the underdogs of the world get a break for once.

My cell phone blares the Twilight Zone theme song, snapping me into the moment. A shriveled woman sitting behind me jumps and mutters, “Jesus,” so I