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 the kind of beautiful Vancouver day that people who live here are always bragging about. The sun is shining. It’s twenty degrees. There’s the sweet smell of fresh-cut grass and white budding flowers on a nearby tree. I’m standing on the sidewalk, looking up the street, with my cell phone pressed to my ear, and it strikes me as the perfect day to run into an old friend and go for a beer – which is the exact moment I spot the approaching bike on the road – and lock eyes with Savannah Jensen.

My breath catches with my first unchecked thought: Damn, she’s just as beautiful as I remember. But like an unexpected blow to the solar plexus, my heart clenches, and the tightness in my chest reminds me that emotional scars actually cause physical pain. That’s when the driver’s side door of the luxury sedan parked in front of me abruptly opens, connecting with Savannah’s front tire.

Brakes screech, and metal crunches on metal, as Savannah’s bike slams into the car. Then, she’s diving – with absurd grace, arms stretched forward followed by her long legs seemingly locking into alignment – just like she’d done so skillfully during high school swim races. Only, this time, she’s plunging over the hood, hands-first, towards pavement.

There’s a long, agonizing pause in the universe where it seems as though vehicles cease moving, and bystanders hold their breath. The dull thud of soft flesh connecting with hard asphalt, followed by her high-pitched moan, snaps me out of dumbfounded inertia.

I swear under my breath, dropping the phone from my ear, and race towards the car’s front end, stopping at the curb, a few feet away. 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 cropped biking 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 grey pallor. Having tended to several overly adventurous kids who fell out of trees during my camp counseling days, I quickly recognize the signs of going into shock.

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

“I didn’t hit her!” A voice bellows from behind me. I turn to see a short, balding man, wearing a navy suit, striding around the driver’s side door to 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 towards whatever damage he thinks has been done. I make out the bent tire frame underneath the door, where the bike lays on the pavement behind him.

When I crouch closer to her, I notice that there’s a reddened lump at the wrist-end of the forearm she’s protecting. I ignore the driver and throw my phone at 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 that hurt,” 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 eyes travel from my face down to my knees, and make 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 just touched Savannah’s wrist gently when she recoils from them, a look of alarm now crossing her face.

“I’m fine.”

I pull my hands away quickly in a motion of surrender, but keep my focus on her face. Tiny beads of sweat have formed along her upper lip. She looks like she’s about to puke, and 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 a coffee shop we stopped in 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 on the floorboard, and is leaning over the window frame of the door he just claimed to be irreparably damaged. “What? You’re taking her to the hospital, aren’t you?”

My phone starts doing its jingly ring, vibrating in my pocket. I look back at 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 I took her on 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 laying, 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?” I need to keep her talking to distract her. I’m pretty sure she’s at least got 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 slushy, studying it suspiciously from the side.

“All they had was Frappuccino.”

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

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

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

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

I turn back to Savannah, who is now 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 just barely nods, but I can see 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 as it’s parked. 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. I’m Mark, and this is Duane.” He says in a thick Australian accent, motioning to his partner. Mark 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 her 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.

He asks for her name and address while he begins to use 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 to 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, and that perhaps I need my head examined more urgently than Savannah. My phone starts ringing in my pocket again, but I ignore it.

“Did you see the accident?” he 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, I think you’re going to need a trip to the hospital to get checked out.” He’s nodding to her convincingly.

By this time, a police cruiser has parked behind the Lexus, and an officer is interviewing the driver. The short, balding guy looks just as annoyed as he did before, and keeps glancing towards his fancy watch. The other paramedic moves in to take a look at Savannah’s leg, so I decide to join Jared on the sidewalk, where he’s been watching the whole thing. A small crowd has gathered around, viewing the show, the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles acting like beacons for an audience to draw closer.

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

“Yeah, I know her. She’s a girl from 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 ‘you know her’?” I glare at him. He grins back, and laughs, pushing my shoulder. “Shit! You did know 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. He’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 in the getaway car.

“Listen, I think I should ride with her to the hospital, just 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 frame 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, and see that 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 taking off?” His thick Australian accent somehow makes his question into a challenge.

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

Once we’re moving, the attendant checks the monitors he’s attached to her. “You getting married today, mate?” the paramedic 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 to Savannah. “Is the hospital far from here?”

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

The siren isn’t wailing above us, and I wonder if they should be going faster. The pudgier paramedic driving the ambulance has the radio cranked in the cab, and 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? 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. Just out for a few days from Toronto. That was my friend Jared – with the Frappuccino ice pack – it’s his wedding. We were counselors at camp, and ended up at university together.” Her head nods slightly, and she swallows, her expression relaxing. She doesn’t ask anything else, and 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 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 eyes glisten an impossible blue 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 am fine.”

I have the urge to reach out and hold her hand, but only smile back uncomfortably, noticing the paramedic’s raised brows as he looks downward, his eyes darting back and forth between us, keeping himself busy checking the equipment.

We arrive at the hospital, which resembles a giant Vegas casino without any of the bling. There is nothing pleasing to the eye about this place. It’s like someone intended a late gothic revival structure, but ran out of money to add any of the ornate pieces. It’s nothing but white, wide, and angular, with hundreds of small square windows, and is about as interesting as a box cheese grater. The sterile, practical exterior doesn’t exactly inspire a sense of warmth or care to its patrons.

At the ambulance bay, they unload her, and I stand off to the side, feeling for the first time like I have no idea what I’m doing here. But I know it’s the right thing to do. I trail behind the crew as we enter the Emergency Room where they rattle off vital statistics and the accident history to a triage nurse whose appearance suggests she’s a veteran.

“Twenty-six-year-old female. Biking accident with a stationary vehicle. No probable head injury. Possible unstable left forearm fracture. Knee abrasion. Heart rate 80, BP 100 over 60, resp rate 28.”

The nurse attends to Savannah, and assists the crew as they get her positioned on one of the hospital stretchers, and then the paramedics begin packing up to leave. The nurse is wearing light green scrubs with a pattern of daisies covering her top. From behind the black square frames of her glasses, she gives me the onceover and takes obvious notice of the tux. She grimaces, and looks from me to Savannah and back again.

“Are you Mr. Jensen?” she asks.

I glance over to Savannah, who has her eyes closed, and is looking away, probably in pain, and I think I hear the Aussie paramedic behind me hold in a snicker.

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

“Take care of that arm for her, Madge,” Mark 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 was there when she had her bike accident.”

She raises her eyebrows 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, appearing over Madge’s shoulder, dressed in green scrubs and a surgical mask that hangs loosely around his neck. His swift presence makes me think things aren’t too busy in here on a Thursday morning. He introduces himself to Savannah and moves quickly into his assessment. Savannah recoils again when he pulls the 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 glances at my tux, but says nothing about it. I’m sure he’s seen all sorts of bizarre circumstances at this hospital.

“We will. I just 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 pretty clean. Won’t need any debridement.” He smiles and nods at Savannah.

“I’ll get her over there right away,” the nurse assures him before he turns briskly and exits the curtained area. Then she asks me, “Do you want to wait here, or come with her?”

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

“Go ahead. Take it. I don’t need you to hold my hand,” Savannah says, trying on a small smile with half an eye roll, her tone obviously sharpened by the pain.

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

“I’ll just whip outside and call her quickly. Will she 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 as 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 out 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 are you? 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 “girlfriend”.

There is a beat too long of silence.

“What girl?”

I realize that I’ve referred to Savannah as though we’re still in high school. How weird is that? I have to 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 isn’t usually the jealous type, but maybe being three thousand kilometers 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. And I’m just going to stay here until they fix her arm, and I figure out who she wants me to call. I’ve got to get the suit 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. Unlike his affinity for you, 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 just nervous about you because he’s afraid you’ll make partner before him – even though he’s been there ten years.”

I can sense her knowing smile on the other end of the line. “Well, I hope this girl 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 curtained area I’d left, the doctor is sitting opposite Savannah, and there are some X-rays backlit on the wall behind him. From across the room, I can 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.

“So, given that, I don’t think you’ll need surgery, but we’ll take a couple more pictures after we reduce it, splint it, and get you a follow-up appointment at the fracture clinic in a day or so to consider casting it once the swelling’s gone down.”

Savannah is listening intently, and 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 and tell her to come pick me up? I don’t want to keep you here when you’ve obviously got places to be,” she says, and 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 her sister. She was an outspoken fireball who never really 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, I think? Now, he was an asshole. She ended up choosing him over me: choosing being the diplomatic term for cheating. I’m sure there’s some lesson to be learned there; but I’m not sure I’ve ever figured it out.

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

I realize I still don’t even know what happened to Savannah after high school. I mean, 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 again and dial the number given to me. An answering machine plays a voice I vaguely recognize from years ago, and I leave a straightforward message about what happened, and where she is, as well as the name of the suit store where her mangled bike could be found before hurrying back. Is it weird that she had me call her sister, and not some guy – a boyfriend, maybe?

Another doctor has appeared, clad head to toe in blue scrubs, hat, and mask. He holds a clear plastic facemask, weirdly shaped like a jock, over Savannah’s mouth and nose, and seems to be closely monitoring her breathing. 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 – it was the first time I’d ever felt like that about a girl – the first time I’d ever really been in love.

The swift movement of the doctor’s hands roughly manipulating Savannah’s arm jars me from this rogue thought, and then he’s feeling the skin around her arm, and nodding his head. “I think that should do it. We’ll send her for the confirmation images, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got it in place. You can bring her back,” he says to the doctor holding the mask.

While her arm is gently placed on some towels, the monitors continue to beep, and her eyelids eventually begin to 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 just want her to snap out of it.

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

The doctor with the facemask 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 come out of this shortly.”

“Savannah Jensen?” A young woman with sparkly barrettes in her hair and cartoon cat images decorating her scrubs pops her head in the door, as the doctor brushes past her out the doorway.

“That’s me,” she says drunkenly, raising her unaffected arm. Thank God 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’d be here in a half hour to take you home.”

“Okay,” she 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. And just like all the whispering suggested, she stumbles out of the upstairs bathroom, draped across the shoulders of that friend of hers, her face buried in his neck. 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 from above.

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

I turn towards Savannah. She looks 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.”

I bite my lip – hard – like a pinch to convince myself of where we are.

“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 to me. Her eyes narrow and harden as she coughs out a sigh. “It’s fine. Thanks for your help today. You can leave. 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 raised eyebrows, even as her eyes dart to the side. The teenager helps Savannah into the wheelchair, her good arm balanced on his shoulder for assistance. The guy starts to wheel her out of the room, and she looks over her shoulder at me one last time. She only 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 surreal Back to the Future remake?

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

I try to convince myself that I already have.