In The Ugly Truth, Carter is one of Seth’s best friends. Soccer teammates, Carter shows up a few times in Seth’s story as a part of his journey. One of Carter’s most important scenes is in the cafeteria when Seth takes his big risk. But he’s an underdeveloped character. This made me wonder how he would feel learning that his best friend and teammate had been in a life threatening car accident. How would he respond? Here is Carter’s In the Wait vignette. Like Sara, I wonder what kind of social repercussions will occur because of his actions…
Williams’s text has thrown me off, in a big way. I’d planned to get to school early and work out. It’s what I do, after all, because I’ve got goals. My phone went off a few minutes before my alarm and when I opened my messenger app to read it, I figured it was a prank.
Williams: Seth’s been in an accident
Me: FO, you prick
Williams: Srsly bro
I’d sat up in my bed, brought my knees up and rested my elbows on them, phone in my hands.
Me: For real?
Williams: Yea dude. My dad picked him up early this morning. Alive. Said it’s bad
Williams: I’m shook
Williams: Yeah. Headed there soon. Texting team
Me: C U there
I scoot to the edge of my bed still looking at my phone to try and find information and rereading the texts. Then I sit on the edge in shock, figuring something’s off. I scroll through IG. Several videos of Seth and Gabe’s fight the day before are there. Twitter. Someone’s posted:
Peters in critical. WTF? #Freakchallenge messed him up. #crucifydaniels
The idea of Seth in the hospital isn’t adding up in my head. I get up, drawing on some joggers, a t-shirt and my team jacket.
After brushing my teeth, I go downstairs.
“Morning, Carter,” my mom says from the kitchen bar. “You just missed, Dad.”
I back up and glance through the doorway. She’s holding a cup of coffee.
“Something wrong?” She asks as her brows shift over her eyes.
“I just got a text from Williams. He says Seth is in the hospital.” Saying it out loud doesn’t make it any more real, less perhaps. I picture Seth - team captain, scoring leader, jokester - full of life. He’s my best friend. There has to be a mistake.
“What?” My mom sets down the coffee mug. “Is it serious?”
“I don’t know,” I tell her and step fully into the doorway instead of leaning around the jam. “He said his Dad took Seth in and it’s bad. I’m going to the hospital now.”
“I needed you to take Michelle this morning-” Mom starts referencing my little sister and then shakes her head. “No. That’s okay. I got it. Want me to meet you there?”
I tap the door jam with my fist. “No. That’s okay. I’ll text you.”
“I’ll call the school and let them know.”
I pause not having thought about that. I nod. “Yeah. Okay.” I turn and grab my keys from the dish in the hallway.
“Text me,” Mom calls after me. “As soon as you hear something.”
When I get to the hospital and find out where to go, I’m numb, like I’m not in my own skin but just watching my body walk through the spaces. The hospital is teeming with people, but they’re all faceless entities. When I step into the waiting room, I see a lot of people. Matt Kaiāulu - freshman on the varsity team - gets up from a center group of chairs and walks toward me.
“Hey,” he says and holds out his hand.
I take it and we offer one another a one armed hug while our hands are still connected.
“This is messed up,” he says as he draws away. He has an accent in his voice which I think has something to do with being raised in Hawaii, but it isn’t because he speaks Hawaiian.
“Heard anything?” I ask him.
“Williams just said it was ‘bad.’”
“Yeah. That’s what I heard too.”
I glance past him and see his sister, Abby. She’s curled up into herself and holding onto their dad. I recall the fight yesterday, the instagram stories - Gabe and Seth trading blows - Abby on the periphery of it.
“There’s room,” Matt tells me, and I follow him into the chair grouping. He introduces me to his dad.
We talk about soccer which seems a strange thing to grab onto, but is like grabbing hold of the earth when gravity just failed. It’s like I’ve touched a live wire and everything around me, movement, sounds, visuals, are bursting like cartoons. I don’t feel like I’m here.
I glance at Abby when I pass her on my way to a seat. She doesn’t offer me any words but raises her dark eyebrows over her brown eyes in acknowledgement. We haven’t talked much before, so I don’t interpret her interaction as rudeness. I’m reminded again how pretty she is - her soft brown skin, cute freckles across her nose and those brown eyes - and understand why Seth has it bad for her.
I remember when we all first saw her, the way we laughed and teased one another, because she was new and mysterious. Seth trying to be nonchalant but looked like an opened-mouth fool. The memory makes me smile. Then I think about her walking through the hallways with the Freak lately, sitting with him in the cafeteria. I frown. My boy’s been hurt, and because of that, my loyalties lie with him.
Matt and I sit and talk and as we do more people arrive.
Sara - who looks like her world has been crushed - gives Abby the evil eye when she walks in. I look at Abby again, who isn’t even paying attention to Sara, but I know they’ve got bad blood. Abby went after Sara after the video was shared. I didn’t get it from Sara, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it started with her.
Coach arrives, teammates and we clump up in the center grouping of chairs. Waiting.
“He said that the front of Seth’s truck is crushed,” Williams says. “Head on collision with another car. They had to get a second ambulance for that driver. Seth wasn’t responsive.”
I swallow down the nausea climbing the walls of my stomach into my throat hearing the details. It’s easier not to know. “He was alive though?”
“Yeah.” Williams nods.
“Any news, yet?” Someone asks.
Someone else says, “no.”
Silence descends, and I figure we’re all contemplating the big What If. I know I am. What if Seth doesn’t survive?
Someone changes the subject to school - wrestling and basketball tryouts coming up. Safe.
I see Abby jump from her seat out of the corner of my eye and look up. Gabe Daniels has walked into the room. My stomach dips toward rage. I don’t know why, really. Daniels has never done anything to me (we were once friends), but I’m thinking about that fight yesterday. I’m thinking about the way he’s got his arms around Abby and his head buried against her neck. I’m thinking about my boy, Seth, who’s fighting for his life, and it isn’t fair. How does this guy get to be walking around and acting like he fucking cares. It makes me want to puke.
I stand and my teammates' faces swing toward me which I suppose is how things will go for a while. Seth is captain, and with him down, someone has to take the lead. “I don’t like what I’m seeing,” I say. “It makes me sick.” I move across the room. The team follows.