Punch Drunk – a Valentine’s Day Story

Icy, watery stairs

“Do not,” she barked, “pick me up.”

I leaned back. Eyed her critically.

“You twisted your ankle. And you’re drunk.”

She was about my size and a fighter. I didn’t want to get hurt, masculinity be damned, but it would be a miracle if she got up the stairs to her apartment on the first try, if at all tonight.

“I’ve done it before.” Then, after a moment’s thought, “maybe not both,” she conceded. “I’m good. I promise.”

I hesitated, skeptical, and in that moment she lurched at the icy stairs, more determination than coordination. Missing the guardrails, she slipped and headed face first toward the steps.

Somehow in that moment between surprise and panic, my body reacted and the last thing I remembered was her forehead slamming into the safety of my palm, crushing my guitarist’s hand into the edge of a step. Then darkness as my own temple struck hard.

The first few moments of wakefulness after that were blessedly free of pain. After that, though, I became aware of the massive swollen line crossing my skull and the throbbing headache that told me, in so many words, that I had engaged in a debate with a wooden plank and lost.

I pinched my eyes shut, trying to close off the pain. I breathed in, faintly smelling the scent of her hair, and guessed that I was in her apartment. I opened my eyes just enough to confirm that she was sitting on the floor next to the couch, head cradled in the cushion within an inch of my nose.

“Mmm…awake?” she mumbled.

I closed my eyes. The lights, dim as they were, hurt. “How did…your couch?” I responded. The buzz of my own speech hurt my skull, so I stopped.

“How did you get here?” she asked. A slight movement of air and sudden emptiness of scent and she was turned around, regarding me. I nodded in agreement, looking her in the eyes despite the pain.

“Picked you up.”

I made a small noise that passed for a response. My heavy eyelids shut of their own accord.

Thankfully, after a few minutes, I smelled her hair just beyond my nose again. Breathed in deeply, and

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  • sonicsuns

    “Breathed in deeply, and”
    and what?

    • Huh, it seems like a lot of people have been having problems with this. He
      falls asleep at the end.

      • sonicsuns

        I think the falling-asleep bit would have worked better if this was in the present tense. In the past tense, I assume the narrator is awake as he's “speaking” to me, and thus he should be able to say that he previously fell asleep

        • It's almost immediate past tense, so he could also say that, not remembering
          what happened immediately thereafter, ends his recollection of his episodic
          memory.

          Regardless, I think I could have alluded to the fact that he was incredibly
          tired better, since very very few people got that, meaning that the only one
          who figured this out was me. XD I have yet to have someone pipe up and say,
          “Hey, he fell asleep at the end, right?”

  • I think the falling-asleep bit would have worked better if this was in the present tense. In the past tense, I assume the narrator is awake as he's “speaking” to me, and thus he should be able to say that he previously fell asleep

  • It's almost immediate past tense, so he could also say that, not remembering
    what happened immediately thereafter, ends his recollection of his episodic
    memory.

    Regardless, I think I could have alluded to the fact that he was incredibly
    tired better, since very very few people got that, meaning that the only one
    who figured this out was me. XD I have yet to have someone pipe up and say,
    “Hey, he fell asleep at the end, right?”