We sat there for a while more, but when it started to rain we finally disengaged and he lurched to his feet. His legs failed him a few times and I had to help him, putting his arm round my shoulder and pulling him up.
“Well,” he gasped when his voice had steadied, “that marks the third time I’ve gotten my nose broken in the last three months.” He managed a weak laugh, though it caused more scarlet to flow down his lip. Cringing, he wiped at the blood with his filthy sleeve. “It’s going to be permanently crooked now, just wait. Shoddy luck I have, huh?”
The rain was picking up then, streaming down our faces, and I noticed with alarm that the puddle under his feet was turning red and he was leaning upon me heavily. “Can you walk? Are you hurt badly?” I asked him.
Benjamin breathed in, but he cut short and grasped his side. “I think he broke at least three of my ribs. Add my nose and a couple fingers to that list too,” he said through gritted teeth. “Other than that, I think I’m…well enough. Very, very sore, but I’ll be fine. Dandy, even.”
“Dandy isn’t the adjective I’d use after I got the daylight beaten out of me, you stupid ass-hat,” I snapped, my overpowering distress finally quelled enough for me to be tetchy again. “Every bit of your body is bruised and you’re standing here, making jokes like it’s nothing! I’d be lying there in the fetal position if that were me!”
“That’s because you’re not Superman, remember?” He gave me a crooked smile, then spat out some more blood onto the ground, pulling his arm from my shoulders and steadying himself on his own. “And in case you didn’t know, Sara,” he said, “this isn’t the first time someone’s done this to me. I can deal with this sort of thing. Your tolerance for pain builds up if you’re hurt enough.”
-Paper Stars, 277
art, writing, characters (c) me