It was a quiet Saturday evening. You’d had a busy week and this was the way you had decided to relax.
“Why did I agree to this again?” You groaned, putting on your strappy heels.
“Because you love me. And because I think it’ll help you unwind.” Clara reminded you, handing you your purse.
“You mean because you wanted to go out, but didn’t want to go alone.” You corrected, taking your bag and sighing as you turned to the front door.
“You know me too well.” Clara came up behind you and kissed your neck softly.
You sighed and leaned into her.
“Come on.” She pulled away and opened the door, making you pout in annoyance.
“Fine.” You huffed, “But you know I’m not drinking.”
The nightclub is loud and the heavy air smells like sweat and cheap perfume. You extricate yourself from the web of writhing bodies, ignoring catcalls and wandering hands.
You sigh when you see there are no free tables, but your feet are killing you from dancing in four inch heels, so you pick the quietest one and walk over.
There’s a man sitting there by himself, nursing some sort of amber liquor.
“Excuse me, do you mind if I sit here?” Your voice is slightly raised over the music.
The man looks up. “Oh, no – go ahead.”
You sit, and notice the man’s demeanour. He’s hunched over, and his eyes are glassy.
“Thanks, my feet were killing me. I’m Y/N.” You extend a hand and he takes it.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Misha.” He says, smiling half-heartedly.
You sit in silence for a few minutes, him staring intently into his glass and you at the dancefloor. You see your long-term girlfriend; Clara, grinding against some younger, prettier girl. You should probably feel something; anger, jealousy, but you don’t. You aren’t sure you even love her any more, but staying with her is comfortable; it’s safe, so you do.
“Hey uh, Y/N, was it?” The stranger sitting across from you startles you from your daydream. You nod, turning back to him. “Can I borrow your phone for a few minutes? I left mine at home and I really gotta make a call.” His eyes are worried and genuine.
“Yeah sure,” You fish your phone from your purse and hand it to him. “Take as long as you need.”
He smiles thankfully before walking to the other side of the room where the music is quieter. Your attention is drawn back to the dancefloor; to Clara. She catches your eye from behind the same girl from before. Quickly, she averts her gaze and turns so she can’t see you anymore. You chuckle humourlessly to yourself and shake your head.
“Thanks.” Misha hands you your phone. When you look up at him he looks even worse than before, his eyes worried and scared.
“No problem.” You pause, smiling at him for a moment. “Hey, are you okay? You kinda look like you need someone to talk to.”
Misha looks away, seeming to ponder your offer before sitting back down across from you heavily.
“Yeah, you’re probably right, but I wouldn’t want to bore you with my problems.”
“Trust me, not much could be more boring than watching my girlfriend try to pick up chicks over there.” You chuckle. “Besides, I like listening to people.”
“Huh, sorry about your girlfriend.” He downs the rest of his drink before continuing. “At least let me buy you a drink.”
“Hmm, dunno if Clara would be too happy about some strange guy buying me a drink,” You smirk. “But since you’re offering, I’ll just have a lemonade; I’m not drinking tonight.”
Misha smiles, “Be right back.”
“So, what’s going on?” You ask after Misha comes back with your drinks.
He sighs, rubbing his hands across his face. “I was trying to distract you with drinks.” He smiles tightly. “But it’s probably good to talk to someone. I uh, I have a wife, Vicki – she’s called Vicki. We’ve been together for – oh – twenty six years now, two amazing, brilliant kids.” Misha stops, his eyes welling up. He coughs, “Sorry. I’m just…” He trails off, a tear slipping down his face.
“It’s okay.” You soothe, taking his hand in yours. “Did… Did she leave you?” You suggest carefully.
He shakes his head, “No, no I got a call, earlier, she uh, she got in an accident.” His voice cracks with emotion. “She’s in the hospital, in a coma.” He takes a deep breath, collecting himself. “Doctors say it doesn’t look good.”
“I’m so sorry.” You say, squeezing his hand.
He smiles at you sadly. “I haven’t even… It just happened so fast.” He frowns, his face falling again. “I haven’t even seen her. I…” He chokes on his words. “I don’t want to see her – not like this.” Misha takes a shaky breath and drops his head so you can’t see his face – now wet with tears.
There’s a moment of silence, before he looks up again, avoiding your gaze.
“I’m sorry, I’m being stupid. I only just met you,” He laughs slightly and sniffles. “I’ll let you get back to your night.”
“You’re not being stupid. You’re night has been far shittier than mine has; it’s the least I could do to just listen.” You smile, and realising you’re still holding his hand, retract it. “I’ll go if you want, but you seem like you could use a friend, and if you aren’t going to go to your wife… I’m here; take me or leave me.” You grin and he seems to relax a little more.
“I should go to her, shouldn’t I?” It isn’t really a question.
“Probably.” You nod, giving a sympathetic smile. You hesitate before adding, “Look, you’ve been drinking and… I have a car. Do you want a ride?”
“Are you sure? That’s a lot to ask…”
“Just as well you aren’t asking then.” You smirk and stand up, extending a hand to help him up in a gesture of friendship. He pauses, but accepts it, taking his coat and following you out of the nightclub.
The warm L.A air was refreshing compared to the thick smog of alcohol, sweat and noise inside. You had parked just across the street, and you lead Misha over to your old, blue mini.
“So, where we headed?” You ask, starting the engine.
It’s about half an hour away, so on the ride Misha tells you about his kids; West and Maison, and you learn he’s an actor. It’s mostly him talking as you’re concentrating on driving – but you’re happy to listen.
You pull up outside the hospital and turn off the ignition.
“We’re here.” You state. Misha’s gone suddenly very quiet.
“Yeah.” He says quietly. “Would it be too much to ask you to come in with me?” He stares out the window as he talks, avoiding looking at you.
“Sure, I’ll come in if that’s what you want.” You say gently.
“You’re sure? You don’t have to I just…”
“I’m sure.” You interrupt. “I want to do what I can to help.”
Inside Misha asks for directions to the room and he seems to have steeled himself again. You don’t like hospitals; the smell, the death. You and Misha make your way through the blue and white corridors, passing doors, behind each one a story.
Room 337. That’s hers. Misha stops walking outside and stares at the wood of the door. There are some chairs outside and you go to sit down but his voice stops you,
“Wait,” He looks torn, “Would you mind… Coming in with me?” He sighs at his vulnerability.
“Okay.” You say simply; you don’t want to, but it’s not enough to stop you helping Misha.
He doesn’t make a move to open the door though, so you take his hand again. He glances at you and smiles ever so slightly before opening the door.
The woman inside looks more machine than human. She’s hooked up to a plethora of tubes and wires, her skin pale and half covered by gauze. Misha doesn’t walk further than the doorway, his body tensing and his grip on your hand tightening.
After a pause of the initial shock he takes a step forward; it’s small but you’re not rushing him. You don’t look at his face in fear of what it might hold – you’ve been holding it together surprisingly well so far, but like you say – you don’t like hospitals.
After an excruciatingly long walk of tiny steps you reach the edge of the bed. Misha’s grip on your hand has turned vice-like as the two of you look down on the woman on the bed.
Misha lets go of your hand and crouches beside the bed, taking his wife’s hand in favour of yours; one of the few places free of bandages. You take a few steps back, trying to give them privacy. In doing so you catch sight of Misha’s face; wet with tears and wearing a look of pure fear and sorrow.
“Vick.” He croaks, dropping his forehead to rest on her hand. You feel your eyes well up now; you don’t know them, but there’s so much emotion in this room right now; it buzzes and crackles around the couple.
After a few minutes there are tears falling down your cheeks too.
“Misha?” You say in a hushed voice, stepping forward to place a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I’m gonna wait in the car okay? Take as long as you want.”
He nods in response and you walk quietly out of the room and back through the eerily silent corridors to the street outside. You take a deep breathe, clearing your lungs of the stagnant air inside.
The ringtone of your phone startles you from your dream. You jolt awake, hitting your head on the car window.
“Fuck,” You grumble as you reach for your phone on the dashboard.
You notice it’s only been half an hour since you got into your car, and yet you fell asleep.
“Hello?” You answer groggily.
“Y/N, where the fuck did you go?” Clara’s voice wakes you the rest of the way up.
“Oh, hey Clara. I took this guy to the hospital to see his wife.”
“Okay? You couldn’t have called me?” She sighs, realising you’re okay.
“Sorry.” You mumble, peering outside to see Misha walking towards the car.
“You and your damn compassion.” She mutters. “Are you coming home tonight?” She says, softer now.
“I, um, I don’t know.” You say, unlocking the door for Misha. “Look, Clara I’ve gotta go.” You smile slightly at Misha as he gets into the passenger seat. “Yep, yeah, love you, bye.” You hang up and sigh, turning your attention to Misha.
“Hey.” You start carefully.
“Hey.” He replies, rubbing his eyes which have long since stopped crying.
“Oh, no, that’s too much to ask Y/N – you’ve done so much already. I couldn’t possibly ask you to take me home.” He says, eyes starting to close with tiredness.
You chuckle, “Come on, just give me the address before you fall asleep.”
Pulling up outside the house, you see that lights are on and there’s somebody inside.
You sigh, glancing at the sleeping man beside you before getting out the car and walking up to the door. You knock, hoping you’re at the right place.
A man who looks about Misha’s age, with a grey beard and a tired expression opens the door.
“Can I help you?”
“Uh, I hope so. Does is this Misha’s house?”
“Look lady, he’s going through some stuff, so if you’re some kind of fan can you just not?” He glares at you.
“Fan?” You ask, confused. “No, I just have him in my car – I drove him here, he’s asleep and I’m pretty sure I’m too tired to carry a grown man.” You sigh, starting to get sick of tonight.
“Oh, thank God.” The man straightens up a bit, his expression changing to one of apology. “Sorry, I thought you were… Never mind. I’ll come get him. Thanks for bringing him.”
“No problem.” You mutter.
The man comes out, shutting the door behind him.
“I’m Darius by the way.” He offers you a hand to shake and you take it.
“Y/N.” You reply, before leading him to your car.
Darius opens the passenger door and picks Misha up bridal style in one motion, making you huff out a laugh.
“You look like you’ve done that before.” You say, shutting the car door behind him as he staggers towards the house.
“More than I can remember.” Darius chuckles. “Hey would you mind getting the door?”
“Sure.” You open the door and follow the men inside, into the living room. Darius is still carrying his friend when you both see two small figures standing on the stairs, hiding behind the banister.
“West, Maison, go to bed.” Darius grunts, plopping Misha down onto a couch, who promptly throws up onto the floor. Darius takes a deep breath and pinches the bridge of his nose.
“Daddy?” The smaller of the children asks.
“He’s fine; you guys can see him in the morning.” Darius assures, before shouting, “Liza?” There’s a pause, “Liza? For God’s sake.” He mutters, glancing between the kids and Misha’s vomit.
You sigh, “I’ll clean this up if you want.”
Darius looks at you as if you’re an angel. “You’re sure?” You nod. “Thank you so much, this day has been actual hell.” He laughs slightly manically. “Kitchen’s through there.” He points at a door before turning back to the kids. “Come on guys, bedtime.”
You clean up Misha and his mess on the floor, and cover him with a blanket. Darius still seems to be getting the kids to sleep, and it’s after two in the morning, so you decide to scribble your phone number on a post-it before quietly slipping out the door.
Clara grunts as you slide under the covers beside her.
“Sorry.” You whisper, being more careful with your movements.
“Where have you been?” She whines, rolling over to look at you with a pout.
“I told you, I took this guy to see his wife in the hospital and then he fell asleep, threw up everywhere and now I’m here.” You mumble with your eyes closed.
“I missed you.” She whispers, wriggling closer to you.
“Please Clara, I just want sleep.” You say, drawing out the vowels and rolling away from her, taking most of the sheets with you.
“Sheet hog.” She grumbles, yanking them back to her side; but you’re already asleep.