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But something about that sound tells me I’m not overreacting. Ingrid had screamed. In my mind, there’s nothing else it could have been. Especially now that I’m moving through the nocturnal silence of the Bartholomew. All is quiet. The elevator, sitting at one of the floors below, is still. In the stairwell, the only thing I hear is the whisper of my own cautious footfalls.

I check my watch when I reach the eleventh floor. One a.m. Another cause for concern. I can think of several bad reasons why a person would let out a single scream at this hour.

At the door to 11A, I pause before knocking, hoping I’ll hear another, happier sound that will ease my mind. Ingrid talking loudly on the phone. Or laughter just on the other side of the door.

Instead, I hear nothing, which prompts me to knock. Gently, so as not to disturb anyone else on the floor.

“Ingrid?” I say. “It’s Jules. Is everything okay?”

Seconds pass. Ten of them. Then twenty. I’m about to knock again when the door cracks open and Ingrid appears. She looks at me, eyes wide. I’ve surprised her.

“Jules, what are you doing here?”

“Checking on you.” I pause, uncertain. “I thought I heard a scream.”

Ingrid pauses, too. A seconds-long gap during which she forces a smile.

“It must have been your TV.”

“I wasn’t watching TV. It—”

I stop, unsure if I should be embarrassed or relieved or both. Instead, I’m even more concerned. Something about Ingrid seems off. Her voice is flat and reluctant—a far cry from the chatterbox she was in the park. I can see only half of her body through the gap in the door. She’s dressed in the same clothes as earlier, her right hand shoved deep into the front pocket of her jeans, as if searching for something.

“It sounded like you screamed,” I finally say. “I heard it and got worried.”

“It wasn’t me,” Ingrid says.

“But I heard something.”

“Or you thought you did. Happens all the time. But I’m fine. Really.”

Her face says otherwise. Besides her rictus grin, there’s a dark glint in those widened eyes. They seem to burn with unspoken distress. She looks, I realize, afraid.

I move closer to the door, staring directly into her eyes. “Are you sure?” I whisper.

Ingrid blinks. “Yes. Everything’s great.”

“Then I’m sorry for bothering you,” I say, backing away from the door and forcing my own smile.

“It’s nice that you were so concerned,” Ingrid says. “You’re a sweetie.”

“Are we still on for tomorrow?”

“Noon on the dot,” Ingrid says. “Be there or be square.”

I give her a wave and take a few steps down the hall. Ingrid doesn’t wave back. Instead, she stares at me a second longer, her smile fading to a grim flat line just before she closes the door.

At this point, there’s nothing left for me to do. If Ingrid says she’s fine, then I need to believe her. If she says I didn’t hear a scream, then I have to believe that, too. But as I climb two sets of steps—one to the twelfth floor, the other to the bedroom of 12A—I can’t shake the feeling that Ingrid was lying.


Bernard leaves.

A doctor enters.

He’s older. Snowy hair and strong jaw and tiny glasses perched in front of hazel eyes.

“Hello there. I’m Dr. Wagner.” He pronounces it the German way, with a V instead of a W. All his words, in fact, are thickened by an accent that’s at once rough and charming. “How are you feeling?”

I don’t know enough about how I’m supposed to feel to give a proper answer. I vaguely remember being told I was hit by a car, which I guess should make me feel lucky I’m not dead.

“My head hurts,” I say.

“I imagine it does,” Dr. Wagner tells me. “You banged it up pretty good. But there’s no concussion, which is fortunate.”

I touch the bandage on my head again. Lightly this time. Just enough to feel the contour of my skull beneath the fabric.

“Your vitals are good, though. That’s the most important thing,” Dr. Wagner says. “You’ll see some bruising from your thigh to your rib cage. But there are no broken bones, no internal damage. All things considered, it could have been much worse.”

I try to nod, the motion stymied by the neck brace. It’s heavy and hot. Patches of sweat have formed around my collarbone. I slide a finger behind the brace, trying to wick away some of the sweat.

“You’ll be able to take that off in a little while,” Dr. Wagner says. “It’s really just a precaution. But for now, I need to ask you a few questions.”

I say nothing. I’m not sure I’ll be able to answer them. I’m not sure the doctor will believe me if I do. Still, I attempt another neck-brace shortened nod.

“How much do you remember about the accident?”

“Not much,” I say.

“But you do remember it?”


At least, I think I do. I recall nothing concrete. Just snippets. I take a deep breath, trying to collect my thoughts. But they’re an unruly, unreliable bunch. My skull feels like a snow globe recently shaken, swirling with important bits of information that have yet to land. And I can’t grasp one, no matter how much I try.