How To Tell

Sneak Preview!

Here’s a peek at the first chapter in the upcoming sequel to All The Promises We Break.

Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Chase – NOW – 2002

It’s a deceptively perfect day in Vancouver. The gentle breeze carries the sweet smell of freshly cut grass. The sun shines down on the bright, blooming flowers of a nearby bush. Passersby wear T-shirts and shorts on their way to play Frisbee in the park. The calm of this picturesque neighbourhood community captivates me as I stand on the sidewalk, with my cell phone pressed to my ear. An accident is the last thing I’m expecting.

When the driver’s side door of the parked luxury sedan abruptly opens, the approaching cyclist doesn’t have a chance to react. She’s not even watching where she’s going. Instead, her eyes are locked on mine. Those widened eyes match the colour of the clear, blue sky above. In this surreal moment, what goes through my head is this: Savannah Jensen is as beautiful as I remember.

Brakes suddenly screech, accompanied by the sound of metal crunching on metal. My heart instinctively clenches with dread around the emotional scars she’d inflicted there almost a decade ago. And just like that, Savannah’s bike tire slams into Fate’s door in front of me.

She’s diving, then – with absurd grace, arms stretched forward followed by her long legs – as though this were one of her high school swim races. Only, today, she’s plunging over the hood of a car, hands-first, headed for the pavement.

A long agonizing pause ensues. In the stillness, vehicles appear to cease moving, and bystanders hold their breath.Then, the dull thud of soft flesh connects with hard asphalt. Her high-pitched moan, which follows, finally snaps me out of my dumbfounded inertia. This time, it’s not me getting hurt.

I swear under my breath, lower the phone from my ear, and race to the car’s front end. She’s sitting with her head bent down, cradling her left arm like a baby. There’s a jagged tear in the right knee of her black, cropped pants, and fresh blood seeps from a wound.

“Savannah!”

She looks up at me with a dazed expression, like she’s trying to bring me into focus. Her bike helmet is lopsided, though unscathed, still covering her long blonde hair. At first glance, it doesn’t look like she hit her head, but the skin beneath her smattering of freckles is quickly taking on a greyish pallor. Having tended to several adventurous kids who fell from trees during my camp counselling days, I’m worried she might be in shock.

“Chase!” Jared yells to me as he rushes across the sidewalk. “Is she okay? The guy inside said he saw someone get hit by a car.” His large hands dance at his hips, itching to help in some way. He’s still wearing his tuxedo.

“I didn’t hit her!” A voice bellows from behind me. I turn to see a short, balding man in a beige suit, striding around the driver’s side door, approaching the front end. “She came out of nowhere! Look what she’s done to my Lexus!” The gold watch on his wrist glints in the morning sunlight as he gesticulates in the direction of whatever damage he thinks has been done. I make out the bent tire rim behind him where the bike lays on the pavement beneath the car door.

When I crouch closer to Savannah, I notice that there’s a reddened lump near her left wrist, and she’s protecting her forearm. I ignore the driver and throw my phone to Jared. “Call an ambulance!”

Savannah looks slowly from me to Jared, then back to me again, but doesn’t say anything.

“An ambulance? She doesn’t need an ambulance! She’s can’t be thathurt,” the irritated driver mouths off behind me.

My hands stretch out cautiously towards her injury as I look up to her face. “How’s your arm?” I ask.

She looks down at it blankly, as though she’s holding a foreign object, not something that’s connected to her by flesh and blood. Then her gaze travels from my face down to my knees and makes the return journey.

“What are you wearing?” she asks, her tone flat like the disembodied voice from a fast-food drive-through speaker.

I have the inexplicable urge to laugh as I realize I’m still dressed in the tuxedo I was being sized for, with a grey vest and bow tie completing the look. I’d come out of the store to answer a phone call from Ashley. It dawns on me that I must have hung up on her.

“It’s a tux,” I say quickly, trying to return to the more urgent issue at hand. “Listen, I think you’re going to need to go to the hospital for that.”

Jared is pacing on the sidewalk, and I can hear him talking slowly, but urgently, into my phone. My fingers have barely touched Savannah’s wrist gently when she recoils from me. A look of alarm crosses her face.

“I’m fine.”

I pull my hands away in a motion of surrender but keep my focus on her face. Tiny beads of sweat have formed along her full upper lip. She looks like she’s about to puke. I’m worried she might pass out.

“Hey, Chase! They’re five minutes out!” Jared yells to me. “Maybe I can get her some ice from next door?” He cocks his head in the direction of the coffee shop where we’d stopped earlier.

“Good idea!” I nod. Jared tosses the phone back to me, and I pocket it.

“Is somebody going get this bike out of here? I’m going to be late for my lunch meeting.” I glare over at the driver, who now has one foot inside his car and is leaning over the window frame of the door he recently claimed to be damaged. “What? You’re taking her to the hospital, aren’t you?”

I turn my attention back to Savannah. She’s grimacing and taking careful, shallow breaths through her nose above a clenched jaw, but there are no tears on her cheeks. I suddenly remember how tough she was on that canoe trip we took with my dad so many years ago.

“We’ll grab the bike in a minute,” I call back to the driver and then mutter under my breath, “Asshole.”

She looks back to where her bike is lying, and a worried expression flashes across her face. “My bike,” she gasps. “I have to get to the interview.”

“What interview?” I ask, “Where were you headed?” If I keep her talking, maybe I can distract her. I’m pretty sure she has a fracture under that swollen lump.

“For Adventure Quest,” she says, becoming momentarily more animated, “Shit! I don’t want to be late.”

“You have a job interview? Do you want me to call someone for you?”

She stares at me for a long, puzzled beat, her eyes refocusing, before she finally says, “What are you doing here, Chase?”

Footsteps race up behind me, and I spin around to see who it is. Jared is holding up a clear, plastic bag, full of mocha-coloured slushie, studying it suspiciously from the side.

“All they had was Frappuccino.”

Luckily, I can already hear the siren whining nearby. I check over my shoulder and see the driver of the car looking around like he’s trying to flee a bank robbery and about to be swarmed on all sides.

“They can’t charge me for this. I didn’t even doanything. She came out of nowhere, I swear! Goddamn cyclists. They’re everywhere. You never know where they’re going.”

I motion to Jared for the bag of ice slushie and then to the driver. “Get the bike, will you, Jared? Before the ass-for-brains decides to drive over it in an escape attempt.”

“Sure thing!” Jared nods and moves to quickly pick up the bike. He keeps it a careful distance from his formalwear as he brings it over to the sidewalk.

I turn back to Savannah. She’s hunched over her cradled arm, with her eyes closed, rocking back and forth slightly. I place my hand on her back and crouch closer to her again, trying to decide if I should offer the Frappuccino ice pack. “You doing okay?”

This time she doesn’t withdraw from my touch. She barely nods, but her eyelids squeeze tighter. I rub my hand along the spine of her slim frame, trying to reassure her that everything’s going to be fine. I have the craziest urge to scoop her into my arms and hold her tight.

Suddenly, the ambulance pulls up beside us, the siren giving out its final squawk. Two paramedics step out from the vehicle, wearing navy short-sleeved uniforms, their trained gazes darting in various directions while they assess the scene.

“Hi there, Miss. This is Duane, and I’m Ned,” he says in a thick Australian accent, motioning from his partner to himself. Ned is tall, thick, and surfer blonde, while his partner looks like he could use a gym membership. They are an odd couple. The Aussie paramedic looks towards Savannah’s helmet. “Looks like you had a fall off your bike. How are you doing?” He squats in front of her, scanning her from head to toe while his partner readies some equipment behind him.

“I’m okay,” Savannah says in a short burst of breath and winces. “My arm?” He’s obviously noticed it already. He nods at this while he keeps his focus on her eyes.

“Did you hit your head?” he asks.

“I don’t think so,” she answers.

Ned asks for her name and address while he uses his light to check her pupils. I notice that she hasn’t changed her last name. Not married, I wonder? No ring, anyway. She cries out and retches when he moves in to assess her arm. The paramedic looks up at me with a serious expression.

“Are you with her?”

“Oh, um, no. I mean, yes – I was here. But, no, not now.”

He cocks his eyebrow at me like I might have been involved in the accident too – as though I need my head examined more urgently than Savannah. My phone starts doing its jingly ring, vibrating in my pocket, but I ignore it.

“Did you see the accident?” Ned articulates slowly.

“Yeah, I did.” I concentrate on being more coherent in my response. “I don’t know if she hit her head or not, though. She disappeared over the top of the hood so fast, it’s hard to say.”

He turns back to Savannah. “Well, I’d say, based on this arm, you were probably bracing yourself in front for the fall, so it’s unlikely. Still, you’re going to need a trip to the hospital to get checked out.” He’s nodding to her reassuringly.

By this time a police cruiser has parked behind the Lexus, and an officer is interviewing the driver. The short, balding guy looks as annoyed as he did before and keeps glancing at his fancy gold watch. The pudgier paramedic moves in to take a look at Savannah’s leg, so I decide to join Jared on the sidewalk. A small crowd has gathered around, attracted by the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles.

“Do you know her?” Jared asks, both surprised and curious, “I didn’t think you knew anyone out here.”

“Yeah, I know her. I knew her in high school.”

He nods his chin at me, and a smirk begins to sprout from the edge of his lips. “Wait. Like, ‘you know her’, or you mean ‘youknowher’?”

I glare at him.

He grins back and laughs, pushing my shoulder. “Youdidknow her! Chase, my man! Two days in Vancouver, and you’re running into your old road of broken hearts!”

I shake my head, thankful I’d never told Jared or anyone else at camp about Savannah that miserable summer. Jared’s got it all wrong. It was Savannah who broke my heart at the end of high school – not the other way around. But I’d refused to be the guy that got played by a cheater ever again. I veer away from this topic as quickly as possible, like I’m the villain in the getaway car.

“Listen, I think I should ride with her to the hospital to make sure she’s all right. The suit fits fine. Can you tell the store I’ll be back this afternoon? I can catch up with you at your house.”

The smirk’s still in place, but he narrows his eyes at me. “Don’t get any blood on it, man! It needs to look perfect for Saturday, or else Tatyana will have my ass,” he warns me. “What about this bike?”

I look over to the bent tire rim and the misaligned handlebars leaning against the outside wall of the store. “Maybe the manager could put it in their back room for her? I’ll see if she can get someone to come over and pick it up.”

Jared agrees and heads back into the store. I start over towards Savannah and the paramedics. They’ve got her on the stretcher, loading her into the vehicle.

 The surfer blonde paramedic, in the back with her, raises his chin to me in an inquiring gesture. “So what are you doing, mate? Are you staying with her, or are you taking off?” His thick Australian accent somehow turns his question into a challenge.

Savannah looks up at me with eyes that register alarm, but her mouth is turned down in a doubtful, sour expression. She’s hurt. I can’t leave her alone like this. I climb into the back of the ambulance, and after the doors close, feel it pull away from the curb.

Once we’re moving, the paramedic checks the monitors he’s attached to her. “You getting married today, mate?” Ned asks me, his thick fingers adjusting the Velcro on her arm splint.

Savannah’s eyes dart to mine. She looks like she’s barely managing the pain.

“No. Not today. My friend’s wedding is on Saturday,” I answer quickly before turning the focus back on Savannah. “Is the hospital far from here?”

“Vancouver General. Near Oak and Broadway. ETA’s only a few minutes depending on the traffic.” He looks reassuringly at Savannah as he says this.

The siren isn’t wailing above us, and I wonder if they should be going faster. The paramedic who is driving the ambulance has the radio cranked in the cab. He’s singing in a ridiculously high voice to a song by that girl group with Beyoncé about being a survivor.

I try to shimmy closer to the stretcher, but despite the intimate proximity, there’s clearly no opportunity for privacy in here. “Hey, Savannah? Are you still doing okay?”

We hit a bump, going around a corner, and her face crumples. Her voice is strained when she speaks. “Yeah, I’m fine.” I don’t know why I even asked this question. She doesn’t look fine. “Do you live here now?” she asks, her tone sounding sharp.

“No. I’m out for a few days from Toronto. That was my friend, Jared – with the Frappuccino ice pack. It’s his wedding. We were both counsellors at the same camp and ended up at university together.” Her head nods slightly, and she swallows, her expression relaxing. She doesn’t ask anything else, but I feel the compulsion to keep talking to her. “I stayed in Toronto after finishing my architecture degree, and now I’m with a firm in the city that designs condominiums along the waterfront. There’s a huge market for it there, so there’s plenty of opportunity. It’s been a great place to start, anyway.” It comes out all awkward, like we’re on a first date – I’m not sure if she’s even listening. “What about you? Where did you end up after – where was it again? – Ecuador?”

We round another corner, and she tries to brace herself for the shift of the vehicle. Her sky blue eyes glisten with tears that, I swear, she’s concentrating hard on not spilling. My phone jingles in my pocket, and I ignore it again. She doesn’t answer my question, and I know it’s because she must be in agony.

Finally, she clears her throat and lets out a long uneven sigh. “You didn’t need to come with me,” she says, shaking her head. I can’t tell if she’s embarrassed or irritated. “I’ll be fine. I amfine.”

I feel the impulse to reach out and hold her hand but merely smile uncomfortably, noticing the paramedic’s raised brows. His eyes dart back and forth between us before he returns to busily checking the equipment.

We arrive at the hospital, which is a wide, white, angular building, with hundreds of small, square windows. There is nothing pleasing to the eye about this place. My inner-architect kicks in, and it strikes meas though someone intended a late gothic revival structure but ran out of money to add any of the ornate pieces. It’s about as interesting as a box cheese grater. I can only hope the care Savannah will receive inside is warmer than the sterile, practical exterior.

At the ambulance bay, the paramedics efficiently unload Savannah, and I stand off to the side. I trail behind the crew as we enter the Emergency Room. They rattle off vital statistics and the accident history to a triage nurse whose crisp white uniform and grey hair suggests she’s a veteran.

“Twenty-six-year-old female. Biking accident with a stationary vehicle. No known head injury. Possible unstable left forearm fracture. Knee laceration. Heart rate 120, BP 130 over 80, resp rate 28.”

It’s not quite as hectic as I’d expected for the ER. Once Savannah is positioned on one of the hospital stretchers, the paramedics begin packing up to leave. From behind the black, square frames of her glasses, the stern-looking nurse gives me the once-over and takes obvious notice of the tux. Her eyebrows furrow as she looks from me to Savannah and back again.

“Are you Mr. Jensen?” she asks.

The Aussie paramedic makes a noise like he’s holding in a snicker. I glance over to Savannah, who has turned away with her eyes closed, probably in pain.

“We’ve got another call, Ned,” his partner announces abruptly.

“Take care of that arm for her, Madge.” Ned winks at the nurse. “Goodbye, Miss Jensen.”

“Thanks,” Savannah says with all the energy she appears able to muster.

The nurse’s gaze is still trained on me while she gestures a quick wave to the ambulance crew. I realize she’s impatiently awaiting my answer.

“I’m Chase Phillips. A friend.” Am I a friend? Better than the other long-winded explanation. “I witnessed the bike accident.”

Her forehead wrinkles, like she’s trying to do the math on the bike and the suit. I avoid clarifying this. Just then, I’m saved by the ER doc who swiftly appears over Madge’s shoulder. Must be a quiet Thursday in here. The doctor is wearing green scrubs and a surgical mask that hangs loosely around his neck. He introduces himself to Savannah and then moves quickly into his assessment. Savannah recoils again when he pulls her arm from the splint to get a better look.

“Can you give her some pain medication?” I blurt out, concerned with the discomfort clearly displayed on her face.

He turns to me, briefly glancing down at my tux but saying nothing about it. “We will. I want to get it X-rayed first to know what we’re dealing with and what we’re going to need to do here.” He looks pointedly at the nurse when he says this, and she writes something down on her clipboard. “Get her leg fixed up after that. It’s fairly clean. Won’t take much.” He smiles and nods at Savannah.

“I’ll get her over there right away,” the nurse assures the doctor before he briskly turns and exits the exam area. The nurse looks squarely at me. “Do you want to wait here or come with her?”

My pocket starts vibrating and singing with an annoying ring. I reach for my phone, knowing it’s going to be Ashley.

“Go ahead. Take your call. I don’t need you to hold my hand,” Savannah says, trying to smile, her tone surely snappish from the pain.

The nurse glares at me, though, and defiantly points to the “No Cell Phones” sign on the wall while she carefully helps Savannah sit up to move into a wheelchair.

“I’ll go outside to take the call. Will Savannah be long?” I ask, not wanting to cross this nurse. She looks like she could handle any one of our surly real estate lawyers in Toronto.

“As long as it takes to get the X-ray.” I appreciate this is an answer she’s given several thousand times. “You can wait here for her. She may want someone with her when they have to administer the medication and treatment.” She cocks an eyebrow at me, suggesting this is a definite possibility.

I nod and then make my way to the busy front entrance, where I find several other people milling about, smoking, or talking on their cell phones. Some of them are in various stages of medical attention, blood seeping from under bandages, and clear plastic bags hanging from IV poles attached to wheelchairs.

Ashley picks up on the first ring. “Chase, where areyou? When you weren’t answering, I called Jared, and he said you’re at the hospital. What’s going on?”

I take a deep breath. “I’m fine, Ashley. It was a bike accident, and I travelled along in the ambulance with the girl.” Jesus, I almost said my girlfriend.

There is a beat too long of silence.

“What girl?”

I’ve referred to Savannah as though we’re still in high school. How weird is that? I remind myself that we’ve moved into the new millennium, and we’re no longer “boy” or “girl” – and certainly not girlfriend.

“Not a girl. A woman.” Oh, man. This isn’t sounding much better to my ears. “A woman I knew from quite a few years ago.”

More silence.

“I didn’t think you knew anyone else in Vancouver,” she says suspiciously.

“I didn’t. I mean, I don’t,” I stumble, “I didn’t know she was living here. I haven’t seen her since high school.”

“And you just happened to see her get into a bike accident on the street?”

Ashley doesn’t usually get jealous, but maybe being three thousand kilometres away in Toronto isn’t giving her adequate control over the situation.

“I know. Weird, hey?” I try to flip the tone. “Anyway, she’s fine. I’m staying here until they fix her arm, and I figure out who she wants me to call. I’ve got to get the tux back to the store this afternoon.”

This topic seems to shift her focus. “How does it look? Will it match the heather grey dress I picked out to wear?”

I have no idea. Heather grey? I mean, grey is grey, right?

“Perfectly. Your plane gets in at four o’clock tomorrow? I know Tatyana is dying to meet you. You’ll probably have a lot to talk about – wedding planning and all that good stuff.”

“Ugh! As long as I get these blueprints off to the client before tomorrow morning. Richard has been breathing down my neck all week. I may be here all night, going over the drawings again.”

“At least you have a few hours to sleep on the plane. And Richard’s only nervous about you because he’s afraid you’ll make partner before him – even though he’s been there ten years.”

I sense her knowing smile on the other end of the line. “Well, I hope that woman is okay. I better get back to the drawings. Love you. See you tomorrow, babe.”

“Love you too,” I reply.

When I return to the examination area, the doctor is sitting opposite Savannah, and there are some X-rays backlit on the wall behind him. From across the room, I spot that one of the bones is broken and shifted a bit. Guess that explains the swollen arm. He’s in the middle of telling her the plan.

“I don’t think you’ll need surgery, but we need to straighten it here in the ER. I’ll reduce it, splint it, and take some more X-rays to make sure we’ve got it set. Then we’ll get you a follow-up appointment at the fracture clinic in a day or two so that they can put a hard cast on it once the swelling has gone down.”

Savannah is listening intently. I notice her eyes and shoulders look less tense, and her breathing has slowed down. I wonder if they finally gave her something for the pain. When her gaze shifts to me, the doctor looks over his shoulder.

“You’re back. We’re going to knock her out for a few minutes to reduce the fracture, but she wanted you to call her sister first,” he says, handing me a number written on a piece of paper.

“Can you call Charlotte for me? Tell her to call the office and then come pick me up. I don’t want to keep you here when you’ve obviously got places to be,” Savannah says. By the look on her face, I’m once again reminded that I’m wearing a tux.

“Sure. Yeah. I’ll call her. Your sister lives here too?”

I remember Savannah’s sister, Charlotte. She was an outspoken fireball who never liked me all that much. Or, at least, it seemed like she preferred Savannah’s best friend over me. What was his name? Paul, or maybe Pete? Now hewas an asshole. Savannah ended up choosing him over me: choosingbeing the diplomatic term for cheating. I’m sure there’s some lesson to be learned there; but I’ve never figured it out.

“Yeah,” she answers, “we both stayed out here.”

I still don’t know what happened to Savannah after high school. I know she left for her trip to South America. But after that, it was like she disappeared. There were rumours that she was out West, but I tried hard not to listen to any of them. I tried hard not to think about her at all.

I jog out to the front entrance again and dial Charlotte’s number. An answering machine plays a voice I vaguely recognize from years ago. I leave a straightforward message about what happened and where Savannah is, as well as the name of the formalwear store where Jared left her mangled bike. Is it weird that Savannah had me call her sister and not some guy – a boyfriend, maybe? I hurry back to the examining room.

Another doctor has appeared, clad head to toe in blue scrubs. He holds a clear, plastic face mask, weirdly shaped like a jock, over Savannah’s mouth and nose, and seems to be closely monitoring her breathing. Madge, the nurse, casually converses with this doctor about his son graduating from kindergarten.

Savannah is completely passed out, all the strain gone now from around her gently closed eyes. God, I used to love watching her sleep – like that morning we awoke under the fading stars by the lake. I’d fallen in love with her adventurous spirit that weekend. It was the first time I’d ever been in love. Savannah was definitely my first.

The doctor roughly manipulates Savannah’s arm, and the swift movement jars me from this rogue thought. Then he’s feeling the skin around her wrist and nodding his head. “I think that should do it. We’ll send her for the confirmation X-rays, but I’m fairly certain I’ve got it in place,” he says to the doctor holding the face mask.

While Savannah’s arm is gently immobilized with a splint, the monitors continue to beep. Her eyelids eventually flutter like moths fighting to stay aloft on a windy night around the campfire. Her head rolls to the side lazily, and she squints in my direction.

“Did you call your wife?” She’s slurring her words, and her eyes are at half-mast.

“Fiancée,” I correct her. “You asked me to call Charlotte. There was no answer, so I left a message.”

Her face scrunches into skepticism. “You’re not engaged to Charlotte!”

I pause, wondering if she’s screwing with me. “No. Your sister, Charlotte; I called her.”

“Oh.” Her mouth stills in the perfectly round shape, and I think her brain has stalled in a similar way. “I wanted you to call Charlotte? Does she know who you’re engaged to?”

This should be adorable – or, at the very least, funny – like those videos of teenagers, high as a kite after getting their wisdom teeth pulled, crying in the backseat about missing their Kermit the Frog toy. But for some reason, I’m finding it irritating, and I want her to snap out of it.

“Is this going to last long?” I ask the doctors.

The doctor with the face mask speaks to the nurse instead of me. “Give her a few minutes before you take her over for her second round of images. Her vitals are stable. She’ll clear shortly.”

“Savannah Jensen?” A young woman with sparkly barrettes in her hair and cartoon cat images decorating her scrubs pops her head in the room. The doctors brush past her, presumably on the way to their next patient.

“That’s me,” Savannah says drunkenly, raising her unaffected arm. Thankfully, Nurse Madge is tending to the other arm, or Savannah might have knocked it back out of place.

“Your sister – Charlotte? She called and said she’ll be here in a half hour to take you home.”

“Okay,” Savannah sings in reply, but then gazes over, wide-eyed at me. “But Chase can take me home, can’t you?”

Suddenly I’m there – all over again.

It’s the night of the party,eight years ago– and she’s drunk off her ass. At first, I can’t bring myself to believe all the whispering gossip of Savannah’s betrayal. But then my worst nightmare is confirmed. She stumbles out of the upstairs bathroom, draped across the shoulders of that friend of hers, her lips pressing against his neck. It was true.

Even now, it twists like a knife, deep in my gut.

What am I doing here?The insanity of this situation splashes over me like a bucket of cold water.

“We’ll take her for the X-ray now.” A tall, skinny guy in green scrubs stands in the entryway, looking about as old as my teenaged brother.

I face Savannah. She appears increasingly perplexed.

“I’m not going home with you, am I?” Her eyes travel from me to the X-rays glowing on the wall and the medical instruments around her, like she’s trying to find herself between two realities. “Oh, shit,” she mutters. For a minute she looks terrified – or maybe its embarrassment?

I bite my lip – hard – like a pinch to convince myself I’m not back in that nightmare. “It’s okay,” I tell her, “It’s just the drugs. You’ll be fine.”

Her gaze remains fixed on the floor for several heartbeats before she looks up at me. Her eyes narrow and harden as she coughs out a sigh.

“It’s fine. Thanks for your help today. You don’t need to stay with me.” She doesn’t sound thankful; she sounds kind of pissed off.

Nurse Madge can’t hide her interest, even as her eyes dart to the side. The teenaged attendant helps Savannah into the wheelchair and begins to transport her from the room. Looking over her shoulder at me, Savannah shakes her head dismissively as they turn the corner.

Okay, wait a minute. Seriously? How come I feel like I’ve somehow let her down, even though I’ve stuck by her side all day in this bizarre Back to the Futureremake?

I stare up at the clock. I’ve been here a long time today. Too long. It’s time to move on.

I try to convince myself that I already have.