Whoever is responsible for the state I’m in should rot in hell. I plan to make sure of that as soon as I escape out of the itchy prison wrapped around my left ankle and the stuffy hospital bathroom I’m locked in right now.
With one last deep breath, I lift my left foot onto the closed toilet seat and position the knife I pocketed during lunch at the upper edge of the plaster cast. Before I can make the first cut, though, a loud voice booms through the closed door on my left.
“Olivia Han!” The shout comes from no one other than my mother, Mina Han. “Don’t you dare touch the cast.”
I snap my eyes at the closed door, but keep the knife looming above the cast. Are all mothers able to see through walls or is mine the only one?
With a sigh, I accept that the stupid cast isn’t coming off, so I lower my foot back onto the ground. Ignoring the pain that shoots up my back as I lean forward, I lay the knife on top of the toilet and then reach for the door. I use the wall for support to hop into the adjoining hospital room. Before I can take a single hop, though, I stop.
Instead of my mom, I’m faced with a bouquet of lavender Roses and white Lilies pointed at my chest. Instinctively I raise my hands into the air and focus on the woman in the dotted summer dress holding the flowers. Her cacao brown hair is the same shade as mine, but as always it looks much shinier and richer in volume than my own shoulder-length locks.
“I told you not to put weight onto your foot.” Mom shakes the flowers in the direction of the cast which causes a few blossoms to drift onto the floor. “This is exactly why I told the doctor to put the cast on.”
“Putting the cast on my foot was the doctor’s decision and not yours.” I lower my arms back to my sides. “You can’t take the credit for his work.”
“Yes, I can and I will.” Mom waves off my statement, causing another couple of blossoms to fall off. “But what I care more about right now, is finding out what you are doing out of bed. I specifically told you not to get up until I return.”
“I had to pee. Surely even you can understand that I can’t resist the call of nature just because you told me not to move.”
“Then why didn’t you use the crutches? Let me guess, you thought you wouldn’t need them after you cut off the cast.” Mom raises the flowers above her head, making it look like she’s planning to beat me senseless with them. “How many times have I told you not to listen to your impulsive instincts? It’s the reason why you’re in the hospital right now.”
“No, it’s not,” I disagree but edge a step back just in case. Every muscle in my body already feels like I’ve been through a round inside the washing machine and then wrung out to the point when not a single droplet of water was left inside me. “The accident wasn’t my fault.”
“How can you be sure?” Mom narrows her eyes at me. “Or are you faking the whole amnesia thing? Can you actually remember everything that happened that night?”
“Whoa.” I raise my arms again, ignoring the groan in protest my abused muscles make. “If I was faking the amnesia, I would start with claiming not to know you.”
Mom continues to point the flowers at me for another moment and then slowly draws them back. “You’re right. If you were faking it, you would insist on not remembering more than just a single night. Now, hold this.”
Without warning, she shoves the bouquet into my arms and moves to the other side of the hospital room. I’m barely able to grasp the flowers, but it’s of no use either way. Most of the purple and white petals are already scattered around the floor beneath my feet.
“Who are they from?” I ask and watch Mom as she leans down to pick up a pair of standard aluminum crutches, which are lying sprawled over the floor beside the middle bed—the one that is covered with a crumpled mess of white linens.
“They’re from a regular client of mine. She heard about your accident and came here to wish you a speedy recovery.”
“That’s nice of her.”
As Mom reaches my side again, she shoves the crutches at me, but this time she at least allows me enough time to hand the bouquet back to her before she lets go of the crutches. I position my new third and fourth leg under both of my armpits and finally take the weight of my throbbing foot.
“Now, wait here, while I go sign your discharge papers.”
I follow Mom to the door leading into the outside hallway, but the stern look she shoots me over her shoulder keeps me from setting a single pinky out of the room. Once she disappears around the corner I turn back to the inside of the hospital room, but before I can take a single hop forward, I freeze.
At the foot of the middle bed stands a scowling guy in his late teens. The thin gray sweater with the sleeves rolled up to just above his elbows and the pair of dark jeans with a silver chain hanging from the side tells me he definitely isn’t a fellow patient. From my position, I can only see his profile, which is even further obscured by the dark brown hair covering his forehead. But it’s still enough to tell what he’s looking at. Namely, the chart clasped to the foot of the middle bed. The chart with the name Olivia Han written on its top and the age seventeen just below. My chart.
“Who are you?” I ask the guy I’m sure wasn’t inside the room two minutes ago while Mom was threatening me with the flowers.
As if being caught stealing from a cookie jar, the stranger snaps his caramel eyes to my black ones. Instead of answering, his eyes widen into round orbs, and he stares at me as if I have just told him that I experienced a moment of love at first sight and now want to kiss him.
Because neither of those things happened, I glance down at my body to make sure I didn’t forget to put on any of my clothes. Both my stretched black leggings and my white T-shirt are in place, as is the small ponytail of my cocoa brown hair clasped at the back of my head. I feel it tickle my neck when I peek at my clothes, while the line of straight bangs resting just above my eyes dips away from my forehead.
The only thing that could have earned me the disbelieving stare are the angry scrapes and bruises scattered over my exposed arms—especially the deepest two-inch-long cut running diagonally across the inside of my left forearm. But even they shouldn’t have caused such a reaction.
When I glimpse back at the stranger, he is still frozen in the same position and with the same expression.
“Who are you?” I repeat and then wave a hand in front of my face. “Hello? Are you deaf?”
The stranger parts his pale lips, but instead of producing a sound, he shakes his head. Then before I can blink, he lunges for the room’s only exit—the door I’m standing next to. I try to grab him as he rushes past me, but he’s too fast. All I catch is him muttering “impossible” under his breath before he slips past me and then out of the room.
“Hey!” I yell and then without another thought hurry after him. Despite the cast and the crutches restricting my movements, I hop after the stranger as fast as my uninjured leg can take me. “Stop right there!”
The stranger doesn’t even glance behind him. He continues to hurry down the hospital’s hallway and ignores the medical staff moving around him. The fact that he isn’t running, only walking really fast, is the only reason why I can barely keep him in my line of sight. I don’t care, though. No matter what, I’m determined to find out who he is and what he was doing looking at my chart.
Halfway down the length of the hallway, he brushes past an oblivious nurse, who is walking with her nose buried in the top sheet of a stack of papers nestled in her arms. Only their shoulders bump, but it’s enough to send the nurse off balance and for the papers to go flying all over the vinyl floor. And yet the stranger doesn’t stop, let alone asks the startled nurse if she’s okay. He simply continues to hurry onward.
The moment I reach the nurse’s side I squat down with the help of the crutches. Wordlessly I help her gather the papers into a messy stack while keeping my eyes on the stranger’s back. He is still going straight down the hallway, never making a single turn.
“Damn it,” the nurse crouching next to me murmurs. “I don’t even know what I bumped into.”
“A rude asshole,” I tell her and hand her the papers I gathered.
“Really?” The nurse looks up and down the hallway. “I didn’t see any—”
“You’re welcome,” I interrupt her and use the crutches to rise back up. Then without another word, I go back to race-hopping down the hallway.
I catch the stranger round a left corner, so I tighten the muscles in my uninjured leg. I can’t let him escape.
Not on my watch.