Authors: Amber West
Text copyright © 2012 Amber West
All Rights Reserved
limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication
may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form, or by means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise) without prior written permission of both the copyright
owner and the above publisher of this book.
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and other incidents are the product of
the author’s imagination, and any similarity to or identification with the
name, character, or history of any person, product or entity is entirely coincidental
and unintentional. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark
owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been
used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not
authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
I never made a habit of waking up to
the feel of unfamiliar sheets, but as I rubbed my legs against the rough
was both disconcerted and comforted.
I glanced around the
, waiting for the blur of sleep to
subside, hoping for a clue as to why or how I ended up here. The curtain next
to my bed was only partially pulled, mocking any expectation of privacy in the
chaos of a busy emergency room. I caught sight of another patient, his leg
mangled into something that was sure to put me off sausages for the next six
months, and quickly turned back towards the curtain. The sudden movement made
my head throb and my stomach ache. I brought my hand to my face and felt the
heat of a swollen cheek.
I closed my eyes,
trying to recount the events of the evening. I remembered showing up at the
gallery opening Dylan insisted we attend. I had a
hazy recollection of staring at a
painting of disembodied heads
while I silently longed for my comfy old couch, remote control,
and worn out sweatpants.
I closed my eyes
tighter, as if that might magically summon the missing pieces of the night
leading me to this hospital bed. Instead, I heard steps approach my bed and
opened my eyes.
“Quinn, actually.” The
nurse looked down at the chart, then back up at me. “My last name is Quinn, first
name is Jameson. It’s okay, people mix them up all the time. What am I doing
“Well,” she paused as
she looked down at a clipboard, “you were brought in unconscious. The person
who brought you in said you passed out and hit a wall. We’re waiting on your
blood work right now. Do you have any idea what happened?”
Closing my eyes again,
I took a deep breath, concentrating. I remembered angrily sipping champagne,
listening to some pretentious guy deconstruct the deeply political and social
subtext made by a mound of bottle caps placed on a platform, while waiting for
Dylan to return from schmoozing with his hipster friends.
“I was at a gallery
opening. I remember having a glass of champagne, but I can’t seem to remember
much past that.”
The nurse nodded,
jotting some notes down on the chart she held.
“Alright. I’ll return
in a few then.”
As she turned to walk
away, I called after her. “Wait!”
The nurse stopped and
looked over her shoulder. “Yes?”
“Can you see if Dr.
Finelli is on this evening?”
The nurse stiffened.
“Dr. Finelli? That’s not really necessary—”
“Not for treatment or
anything. He’s a friend.”
Her shoulders fell as
she relaxed. “I’ll have him paged.”
I leaned my head back
against the hospital bed, hoping Finelli was around. I needed a friend right
now, and one who might be able to rush my tests would be especially helpful.
The incessant beeping of the machines and oppressively bright fluorescent
lights only heightened my awareness of the pain in my head. I shook my head and
closed my eyes, wondering what kind of sadist designed this emergency room.
“Hey, Finelli.” I
said, propping myself up on one elbow. “Thought I’d come visit.”
“There are easier ways
to get me to see you, you know.”
Finelli’s tone was friendly,
but his eyes looked tired. He grabbed my chart and rolled up next to the bed on
“Yeah, I know. But you
know me. Grand entrances and all that.”
“Of course.” He patted
my arm in the fatherly way he often did when we talked. “So, you don’t know how
you ended up here, eh?”
I shook my head.
“That’s not like you.”
He looked at the chart again. “You were drinking?”
“A glass of champagne,
Doc. Seriously, you know me. I’m not exactly a party girl.”
Finelli stood and
placed my chart on the end of the bed. “I’ll check on your tests, see if I
can’t find out more. Do you want me to call someone? That boyfriend of yours?”
I started to say yes,
then thought better of it. “No. Just see what you can find out for me. Oh, and
do you think you can get someone to give me something for my headache?”
Finelli saluted and
smiled. “Yes, ma’am.”
As I watched him walk
away, I felt slightly calmer. I’d met Dr. Finelli when I started volunteering
at the hospital four years ago. He had a reputation for being a bit gruff, but
in reality he was sweet and loving; he just didn’t like to put up with any kind
of nonsense. Very quickly, he became a sort of surrogate father for me here in
the city. Knowing he was chasing down my tests - knowing someone was looking
out for me - put me at relative ease.
While I waited for his
return, I felt around my skirt pocket, hoping the intake nurse missed my phone.
As my finger hit the cool edge I smiled, pleased at my preference for clothes
with pockets rather than hauling a purse around.
I pulled out my phone
and looked at random photos of art I’d uploaded the night before, complete with
snarky comments. There were pictures of people I vaguely knew through Dylan,
and a guy I didn’t recognize from previous events I’d attended. As I scrolled through
the photos, I noticed he was in an awful lot of them. I wondered if he was the
guy I walked out with.
I checked my message
history next. There was one unread message from Dylan.
You could of at least found me before you left. talk tmrw.
Could have, not of, I
thought to myself. And apparently, I was unconscious, so no, I couldn't have
I opened up the
notepad in my phone and tried to tap out anything I could remember as I waited
for Dr. Finelli’s return. I tapped my index finger against the phone, waiting
for something to come, but found I couldn’t call anything more to mind than
what was left behind in the photos.
An hour passed before
I saw the familiar streak of silver hair headed in my direction. “Okay, Quinn.
Your tests showed a level of Benzodiazepine in your system. You aren’t on any
medications I don’t know about, right?”
I shook my head.
“Is it possible
someone may have slipped something in that glass of champagne you drank?”
I wanted to say there
was no way. I was usually so careful when I went out, paranoid by some
standards. But I was at a private event among Dylan’s friends, so I wasn’t
thinking about danger when I grabbed a glass of champagne.
Did I grab it or did
someone hand it me?
“I suppose it’s
“That would explain
why you passed out. The amount in your system probably wouldn’t have had such a
strong effect on the average person, but the combination of the alcohol and
your history of medication sensitivity brought you down quickly.”
I ran my hand through
my hair and sighed. Finelli quickly added, “Your sensitivity came in handy. It
kept you from being able to go wherever that guy was taking you.”
“But it also is why I can’t
remember what happened, isn’t it?”
“It’s likely a
“So what now?”
“Well, the drugs leave
your system pretty quickly, and as for your face, that’s nothing an ice pack
and some ibuprofen can’t handle.” Finelli stopped to look at his watch. “My shift
ends in another hour. If you want to relax here for a bit, I’ll sign off on
your chart and take you home.”
I nodded and closed my
eyes. “That would be great. Thanks.”
He scribbled a few
things on my chart, replaced it, then squeezed my hand. “Everything is going to
be fine, Quinn.”
Yes, I thought. I just
need to get home to my sweatpants and comfy couch and it will all be fine.
I rolled over on the
couch, trying to ignore the banging on my apartment door. Whoever it was, they
weren’t showing any signs of leaving, so I dragged myself to my feet and stood
next to the door.
“Who is it?”
“It’s Dylan, Jameson.
Come on, open up.”
I fumbled around with
the two deadbolts and chain before finally turning the door handle. Dylan
stepped inside, walking past me towards the kitchen area of my tiny studio
apartment. He stood with the refrigerator door open, staring at the lack of
contents as he spoke.
“You should really
learn to answer your phone. I’ve been calling all morning. I know it’s
Saturday, but really, most people answer their phones after 10.”
I squinted, trying to
see the clock. It was almost noon. I turned my attention to Dylan who was
pouring himself some orange juice. He turned towards me as he was about to take
a sip then stopped.
“Geez, what is going
on with your face? You look terrible.”
I looked at the mirror
on the wall and could see the swelling on my cheek had progressed to bruising.
“I fell last night.”
“I guess that’s why
you never wear heels.”
If anyone else made
the same comment, I would have at least smiled. But Dylan’s words were a veiled
insult. He hated that I never put much stock in fashion. I owned five pairs of
shoes: running shoes, plain black flats, flip flops, winter boots, and a pair
of shiny black stilettos. The stilettos were a gift from him.
I bit my lip before
responding. “I was doing fine in your stilettos. Until some friend of yours at
that gallery dosed my drink.”
He stared into his
cup. “Is there pulp in this? You know I hate pulp.”