“And just what is so funny in here?” A nurse had walked in. Her tone was jovial enough that Joan decided she was kidding.
The girl answered before Joan could. “Oh, me and her were just talking about how bad these photos are.” Joan wasn’t particularly happy to be associated with just bad grammar, but she decided it wasn’t worth alienating her new friend, whom she would probably never see again.
“Oh man, I know.” The nurse exclaimed and shoved her I.D. badge into Joan’s face. “Who on earth is this person, right?”
Joan smiled but she hadn’t really seen the picture. She didn’t think she really needed to have seen it to participate in the exchange, so no harm done.
“Now, let’s see what we can do for you. How are you feeling, Joan?”
“Fine. I guess I’m a little cold.”
“We can get you a blanket.”
“That isn’t necessary. I don’t plan on staying.”
“Of course not, but blankets are one of the few things here that are free. That, and coffee, but it’s decaf.”
“Ugh. I’ll take the blanket.”
She ultimately regretted asking for the blanket because it covered most of her work clothes and having it on her made her look sick and weak, like she belonged there. But she didn’t want to throw it off her because that seemed rude. So she sat there, looking like an overdressed invalid.
A woman came in with a clipboard. Her outfit was both casual and impractical for physical activity, which immediately identified her as a counselor, rather than someone who would be lifting sick people all day.
“Hi Joan. I’m Sarrin. Can we chat a bit? I promise it won’t take long.”
Joan never knew when to tell people she was a counselor. Now seemed like a good time, but she thought it could also appear like she was bragging or trying to make herself look special. Obviously counselors had counselors. There was no reason identifying herself as one should change what Sarrin did.
“Sure. What’s up?”
“Well, Joan, we are just very concerned about what happened today.”
“I would hope so.”
“Right. So I wonder if you could tell me what you remember?”
“Nothing much, really. I was sitting waiting for the bridge to come back down and this car sped by me. I didn’t see it fall or hear it. I didn’t see who was driving.”
“Ok, and that’s when you decided to climb up the bridge? After you saw the car?”
“Yeah. I just—I mean, I don’t really know why I did it. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
“What were you going to do when you got to the top?”
“I dunno. Look down? Maybe see something? I hadn’t quite figured that out.”
“Uh-huh” She started writing on her clipboard. “And the car, do you remember what color it was? What model?”
“Um, blue. It was definitely blueish. Model-wise, I don’t know. A sedan, but sporty. Maybe it had four doors. I didn’t get a good look.”
She waited for the furious scribbling to stop. “Not to be morbid, but why does it matter what I remember? I would think the car could be found pretty easily. Don’t they get diving teams out?”
Sarrin looked up from her clipboard and then back down. Her shoulders raised and lowered in a deep sigh. “Joan, there was no car.”
“What? Of course there was.”
“No. There wasn’t. The police were there for you. To keep you from jumping off the bridge.”
Joan paused for a moment. She wasn’t sure how to respond. “That doesn’t make any sense. I heard the sirens before I was on the bridge. Why were there sirens if I hadn’t climbed the bridge yet?” Airtight logic. Weasel out of that, Sarrin.
“I don’t know what you heard, Joan, but the police didn’t come until you tripped the alarm system.” Right. Joan realized that if people were willing to believe she was seeing things, it wasn’t a great stretch for them to believe she was also hearing things.
“This is crazy. I saw the car. I got out to check. I’m not suicidal.”
“Of course not. But you can see why we are worried?”
“Who was this ‘we’ everyone kept referring to? What annoying habit,” Joan thought. Take ownership of your stupidity.
“No,” Joan said flatly, “I can’t see why you are worried because I know I saw the car and I know I’m not crazy. I also know I wanted to go now.” She got up from the bed and Sarrin moved deftly to the door. “Yeah,” Joan thought, “I know that move, too.”
“You can’t leave right now, Joan, we aren’t finished.”
“No, you aren’t finished. We, as in you and I, are done. I want to leave.” She moved toward the door. Suddenly a wall of dark blue scrubs blocked her path. She continued walking. Someone grabbed her. She jerked her arm away. She felt a pinch, then darkness.
Need to play catch up? Read the rest.
Need to play catch up? Read the rest.