C H A P T E R T H R E E
“You what?” The receptionist’s pink claws stopped tapping at her computer. Hannah felt rather sorry for the keyboard. It looked so forlorn covered in pink chips.
“I’m here to see Oliver.”
“Oliver in room 10b.”
‘Why?” The receptionist’s eyebrows drew together like sentient beings huddling together for warmth. Hannah felt a little sorry for them, too.
“I’m his friend. I want to visit him. Please.”
Pink nails tapped on the keyboard again. “So you want to visit Oliver May in room 10b?”
Oliver May. Hannah breathed his name, then snapped back to reality.
The receptionist waved toward the elevator with her claws. “Then go.”
Hannah beat a hasty exit, rushing toward the elevator and slamming her hand against the buttons, but the receptionist didn’t appear to call after her, call security, call the police, or worse, call Hannah’s parents. Hannah sighed and leaned against the wall of the elevator. Her heart was thudding unnaturally. She took out a pill and crunched it.
The elevator dinged, and a reassuring, if slightly bored-sounding female voice announced the floor. Hannah stepped out, stomach roiling.
Room 10b was only a few steps away. Only a few steps. Hannah glanced around. The floor was filled with friendly looking, scuttling people. People who could hear her, if need be. Pushing back her shoulders, Hannah strengthened her resolve, and crossed the hall to room 10b. The door was open.
Hannah could almost hear the smiley emoticons in the boy’s voice. Because a boy really was sitting in the hospital bed, propped up against the pillows, reading a book. Frogs paraded in Hannah’s throat as the boy smiled at her. He looked exactly like he had in his photos, if slightly paler. The sun that streamed in the window gave him an almost godly appearance, which, when coupled with the fact that he was tapping the seat next to his bed, gave Hannah’s heart not entirely unpleasant jitters. HIs voice, when he spoke, was exactly as she had imagined it. “I’d guess you’re Hannah. Take a seat. Well- you know. Don’t actually take it. Although you could. If you wanted to. Take it, I mean. Here, sit down.”
The boy smiled again. Hannah lingered in the doorway. She felt a little like Alice; this scenario seemed so unreal. First, the boy actually existed. Second, he was here. Third, he was real. Fourth, he was tapping the seat next to him with a welcoming expression. Hannah approached cautiously.
“I’m glad you came. I get lonely talking to the nurses all the time, because they don’t talk back. Do tell me Hannah; how are you?”
Hannah still lingered. Her brain didn’t really want her to move. It was putting up a very good fight. She gave a wan smile. “Good. I’m… good.” Oh man. Did I really just say that?
Oliver was smiling still; it seemed to be a permanent expression. “So was Jesus.”
Hannah felt the flutter of a laugh escaping the confines of her chest before she could stop it. “Seriously?”
Another smile, another tap on the chair. “Seriously. Come talk, friend.”
Hannah suddenly felt all of her inhibitions melt away. She let her features relax, and approached Oliver with a smile that matched his. “Okay.” She sat. Up close, Oliver’s features were even more perfect, even more beautiful. Hannah supposed brown eyes and blonde hair could look odd, but it gave him depth. She could almost hear the romantic violin music. “What shall I talk about?”
Oliver sat back, still maintaining eye contact. “Camels.”
“Are you sure it’s just your lungs?”
“I was tested. Just the lungs. Camels. Go on.”
Hannah’s mind felt loose for the first time since… well, since she could remember. She racked her brain for facts about…camels. “They live in-“
Oliver leaned forwards to glance at her vibrating pocket. Hannah felt her cheeks flush, and the moment was over. She stood up awkwardly, backing away. Oliver looked worried.
“Are you okay? Hey, it’s fine. It’s a phone. It rings. Like a phone does, you know.”
Hannah felt her heart begin to race. “I’m sorry! I have to go! It was nice talking to you! I’m sorry!” She half fell and half ran towards the elevator and mashed the buttons. It seemed so slow compared to the marathon her heart was doing.
The receptionist glanced up as Hannah rushed by, claws stilled for a second. She called after her, asking her if she was okay, if she needed help, but Hannah didn’t hear her. She knew she should take a pill for her heart, as it now beat a against her ribcage like a caged hawk, and pulled out the case once she was outside on the pavement, but it burst open due to her shaking hands, spilling the precious medicine out onto the street. Her vision was clouded with grey, the orange pill the only spot of light as the blundered forwards to grab it-
Those who were watching had never seen anyone hit by a car. It’s just not something you ever see. People do get hit by cars, sure, but you don’t see it happen. When you do, it’s terrifyingly real. The people could hear the thud as the four wheel drive vehicle slammed into Hannah’s side, the too-late screech of the tires, the screams of those whom the knowledge hit first. But it was only those close by who heard Hannah’s last words as they escaped from her mouth, hand in hand with her soul.