Whoever is responsible for the state I’m in right now should rot in hell. At least that’s how I feel as I glare at the plaster cast wrapped around my left ankle. I glance around the small bathroom for anything that might help me cut through it, but as expected there isn’t a single object sharp enough to be of any use. Portland’s hospital staff really is smarter than I give them credit for.
With a sigh, I accept that the stupid cast isn’t leaving my foot and reach for the door handle. I open the door and then use it for support, so I can hop into the adjoining hospital room. Before I finish two full hops though, I stop.
At the foot of the middle bed—the one that is covered with a crumpled mess of white linens—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 tell 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 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 I have never seen before.
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 look back up, however, the stranger is nowhere to be found. Nothing but disinfectant filled air is lingering around my hospital chart and no matter which edge of the room I turn to, the stranger doesn’t reappear.
I’m just about to head over to the bed when the sliding door leading into the hallway slams open. I almost jump out of my sneaker—or I would if my foot still wasn’t wrapped in the annoying cast—and snap my head toward the door.
Instead of the stranger, a woman in her late forties appears in the doorway. She turns her back to me, so I’m only able to see the dotted summer dress she’s wearing and her cacao brown hair. Despite it being the same shade as mine, it as always looks much shinier and richer in volume than my own shoulder-length locks.
She has her hand raised in the air, looking like she is waving to somebody. I crane my neck to the side to see whom she is either greeting or saying goodbye to, but all I catch is the back of a textured auburn bob before an unknown woman rounds a corner and disappears out of my view. I move my eyes back to the woman still standing in front of my hospital room and rest my eyes on the bouquet of lavender roses and white lilies resting at her side.
“Olivia Han.” The woman, who also happens to be my mother, turns to me before I can limp a single step closer to the bed. “I told you not to put weight onto your foot. It’s exactly why I told the doctor to put the cast on.”
“Mina Han.” I mimic her tone. “Putting a cast on my foot was the doctor’s decision and not yours. You can’t take the credit for his work.”
“You can keep thinking that way if you want to, but I know the truth.” She waves off my statement with the bouquet of flowers and step by step diminishes the distance between us. “What I care about 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 were once again itching to cut off the cast.” She points the bouquet of flowers at me, which causes the first couple of petals to drift onto the floor. “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. The accident wasn’t my fault.”
“How can you be sure?” She pushes the blossoms against my chest. “Or are you faking the whole amnesia thing? Can you actually remember everything that happened that night?”
“Whoa.” I take a step back to get away from the flowers when it starts to look like she might start beating me senseless with them. “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 bed. I’m barely able to grasp the flowers, but it’s of no use either way. Most of the purple and pink petals are already scattered around the floor beneath my feet.
“Who are they from?” I ask and watch her as she leans down to pick up a pair of standard aluminum crutches, which are lying sprawled over the floor beside the hospital bed.
“They’re from a regular client of mine. She heard about your accident and came here to wish you a speedy recovery.”
Before she straightens back up, I catch something move with the side of my eye. I turn to the still-open doorway and find the same stranger from before standing a step inside the room.
“Who are you?” I repeat and wave my hand in front of his face when he continues to stare at me with a frozen expression. “Hello? You still here?”
The stranger parts his pale lips, but instead of producing a sound, he shakes his head. Then before I can blink, he spins around and rushes out of the room.
“Hey!” I yell and then hurry after him.
“Olivia?” Mom calls from still inside the room, but I ignore her.
Despite the cast restricting my movements, I limp after the stranger as fast as my uninjured leg can take me. I drag the left one behind while using the hallway’s gray-blue coated walls for support.
“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 all around him.
The fact that he isn’t running is the only reason why I can barely keep him in my line of sight, but I don’t care. 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 rest my hand deeper against the wall and crouch down. 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—”
Before she can finish her sentence, I use the wall to rise back up and continue to limp forward. The stranger right then rounds a left corner and I tighten the muscles in my right leg. I can’t lose him.
The moment I round the same corner I find myself faced with a dead-end, which ends with a single door. I grab the door handle, but it refuses to move. No matter how many times I try to push it down, it remains in a horizontal position.
While I’m sure that the stranger rounded this corner and didn’t come back out, there is no sign of him having ever been here. Again.