It feels as if I finally made a good decision for once.


I open my eyes.

My head feels heavy. The world feels hazy. My eyes adjust slowly.

I’m in a hospital bed. My legs are stretched out in front of me, a blanket covering them. My arms are by my sides. There is a blond woman in front of me with a stoic but kind look on her face. She’s about forty. I can’t be sure, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in my life.

She is wearing a white coat and holding a folder.

“Hannah?” she says. “Nod if you can hear me, Hannah. Don’t try to talk just yet. Just nod.”

I nod. It hurts, just that little nod. I can feel it down my back. I can feel a dull ache all over my body, and it seems to be increasing exponentially.

“Hannah, my name is Dr. Winters. You’re at Angeles Presbyterian. You’ve been in a car accident.”

I nod again. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to. But I do.

“We can get into the details later, but I want to go over the big news now, OK?”

I nod. I don’t know what else to do.

“First, on a scale of one to ten, how much pain are you in? Ten being so excruciating you don’t think you can bear it for another second. One being you feel perfectly fine.”

I start to try to talk, but she stops me.

“Show me on your fingers. Don’t hold them up. Don’t move your arms. Just show me with your hands at your sides.”

I look down at my hands, and then I pull back the four fingers on my left hand.

“Six?” she says. “OK.”

She writes something down in the folder and starts fiddling with one of the machines behind me.

“We’re going to get you down to one.” She smiles. It’s a reassuring smile. She seems to think everything is going to be OK. “Soon you’ll have an easier time moving your arms and torso, and speaking won’t be too hard once you’ve been up for a little while. You have suffered blood loss and broken bones. That’s an oversimplification, but it will work for now. You’re going to be OK. Walking, at first, is going to be hard. You will need to practice a bit before it comes naturally to you again, but it will, one day, come naturally to you again. That’s what I want you to take away from this conversation.”

I nod. It hurts less this time. Whatever she did, it hurts less this time.

“Now, you’ve been unconscious for three days. Some of that time was because of the blow to the head you sustained during the accident, but the rest is because we put you under for surgery.”

She’s quiet for a moment, and I see her look off to the side. She turns back to me.

“It’s perfectly normal if you don’t remember the accident. It may take some time to come back. Do you remember the accident?”

I start to answer her.

“Just nod or shake your head for now,” she says.

I shake my head slightly.

“That’s fine. That is completely normal. Nothing to be concerned about.”

I nod to let her know I understand.

“Now, as I said, we can go over the details of your injury and your surgery when you are feeling a bit stronger. But there is one last thing that I want to make sure you know as soon as possible.”

I stare at her. Waiting to hear what she has to say.

“You were pregnant,” she says. “At the time of the accident.”

She picks up my chart and consults a piece of paper.

Wait, what did she just say?

“It looks like you were about ten weeks along. Did you know? Nod or shake your head if you feel up for it.”

I can feel my heart start to beat faster. I shake my head.

She nods in understanding. “OK,” she says. “That’s more common than you think. If you’re not trying to get pregnant and you don’t always have regular periods, it’s possible not to figure it out at this stage of the pregnancy.”

I continue to stare, unsure what, exactly, is happening right now, stunned silent.

“The baby did not make it through,” she says. “Which, unfortunately, is also common.”

She waits for me to respond, but I have no response. My mind is blank. All I can feel is my eyes blinking rapidly.

“I am sorry,” she says. “I imagine this is a lot for you to digest at once. We have a number of resources here at the hospital to help you deal with everything that has happened. The good news, and I really do hope you are able to see the good news, is that you are going to be physically back to normal soon.”

She looks at me. I avert my eyes. And then I nod. It occurs to me that my hair is down around my face. I must have lost my hair tie. It feels sort of uncomfortable like this, down. I want it back up in a bun.

Did she just say I lost a baby?

I lost a baby?

“Here is what we are going to do,” the doctor says. “You have a lot of people here who have missed you these past few days. A lot of people who have been excited for this moment, the moment when you wake up.”

I close my eyes slowly.

A baby.

“But I find that some patients need some time alone right after they have woken up. They aren’t ready to see Mom and Dad and their sister and friends.”

“My mom and dad?” I start to say, but my voice comes out as an unintelligible whisper. It’s scratchy and airy.

“You’ve had a tube in your throat for some time. Talking is going to be difficult but will come back the more you do it. Just take it slowly. One or two words at a time at first, OK? Nod and shake your head when you can.”

I nod. But I can’t resist. “They’re here?” I say. It hurts to say it. It hurts on the edges of my throat.

“Yep. Mom, Dad, your sister, Gabby, right? Or . . . Sarah? Sorry. Your sister is Sarah, friend is Gabby?”

I smile and nod.

“So this is the question. Do you need some time on your own? Or are you ready for family? Lift your right arm for time alone. Left for family.”

It hurts, but my left hand shoots up, higher than I thought it would go.

I open my eyes.

My head feels heavy. The world feels hazy. My eyes adjust slowly.

And then I smile wide, because right in front of me, staring back at me, is Ethan Hanover.

I stretch slowly and push my head further into the pillow. His bed is so soft. It’s the kind of bed you never want to leave. I suppose, for the past few days, I really haven’t.

“Hi,” he says gently. “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” I say back. I am groggy. My voice is scratchy. I clear my throat. “Hi,” I say. That’s better.

“You haven’t had a cinnamon roll since you’ve been here,” he says. “That’s at least three entire cinnamon-roll-less days.” He is shirtless and under the covers. His hair is scattered and unkempt. His five o’clock shadow is way past five o’clock. I can smell his breath as it travels the short distance from his pillow to mine. It leaves something to be desired.

“Your breath stinks,” I say, teasing him. I have no doubt that mine smells much the same. After I say it, I put my hand over my mouth. I talk through the spaces between my fingers. “Maybe we should brush our teeth,” I say.

He tries to pull my hand away, and I won’t let him. Instead, I dive under the covers. I am wearing one of his T-shirts and the underwear that I picked up from my suitcase at Gabby’s yesterday. Other than the trip to her place to grab some stuff, Ethan and I haven’t left his apartment since we got here Saturday night.

He dives under the covers to find me and grabs my hands, holding them away from my own face.

“I’m going to kiss you,” he says.

“Nope,” I say. “No, my breath is too terrible. Free me from your superhuman grip, and let me brush my teeth.”

“Why are you making such a big deal out of this?” he says, laughing, not letting go of me. “You stink. I stink. Let’s stink together.”

I pop my head out of the covers to inhale fresh air, and then I go back under.

“Fine,” I say, and I breathe onto his face.

“Ugh,” he says. “Absolutely revolting.”

“What if my breath smelled this bad every morning? Would you still want to be with me?” I say, teasing him.

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