PART FOUR – WHIPLASH. “I thought it hit my passenger side,” Amy said. “But you came up to my right and ended up blocking the hit.”
Amy paused and swallowed hard. She got out of the accident with a few scratches and bruises, but as she spoke, Mr. Florence was lying unconscious in another room. She shuddered at the idea of what could have been, had Peter not ended up in the lane between her car and the speeding blue coupe. “You must have been going really fast,” she said, trying to divert her thoughts. “I didn’t even see you coming.” She darted a quick look at Peter, who was lying in his bed with his eyes closed. “Where were you going in such a hurry?” she asked.
Peter winced upon remembering his last thoughts in the car, before getting blindsided. He was racing to get to Jane, to try and win her back. “Nowhere,” Peter said quietly. “I was going nowhere.”
The doctor walked in and beamed at them. He said, “Well, it looks like you two will be ready to go pretty soon. We just need you to fill out some paperwork then you can be on your way. You guys got really lucky. It could’ve been a lot worse.”
Amy looked worried, “What about Mr. Florence?”
The doctor’s smile faded just slightly, but he looked Amy in the eye and said, “He’s still unconscious, but he’s recovering. He sustained a lot of injuries, and right now it’s hard to say which way it will go for him.” He paused, looking for the right words. “His heartbeat is steady, though. And lucky for him, Peter’s car absorbed a lot of the force from the collision. It could have been much worse for him, had Peter not been there at that exact moment.” He looked at Peter, who still had his eyes closed.
“Anyway, it won’t be long before you guys can go. For now, just hang tight. Oh, and you have a visitor.” He turned and walked out the door.
Peter kept his eyes closed as the doctor closed the door behind him. He was in no hurry to leave. He willed himself to fall asleep, to sink into unconsciousness before Amy’s visitor walked in. Listening to their voices would only make him more aware of the stark abandonment he felt – first at being broken up with by the girl of his dreams, then by not having her here beside him right now.
“Peter? Are you awake?”
Jane’s soft voice was barely louder than the whirr of the fluorescent bulbs, but it made Peter’s eyes fly open. He stared at her in disbelief. Then he looked at Amy, who was lying still on her bed, alone in her side of the room. “I thought it was you who had visitors,” he said to her, trying to keep his voice indifferent. She shrugged and closed her eyes.
Peter turned his face back towards Jane. Her face was mottled and puffy. It was obvious that she had been crying. His heart broke to see her looking like this, but he also rejoiced in spite of himself at the sight of her worried and anxious face at his bedside. It was nice to know she still cared enough to cry about him like this. Guess I’m not the only one who’s had a hell of a day, he thought to himself.
Then a thought occurred to him. It couldn’t have been that long since the crash. He didn’t have Jane listed as an emergency contact, and he hasn’t called anyone to say he’s been in an accident. “How did you know I was here?” he asked her, genuinely curious.
She bit her lip. Her eyes fell to the floor. “Peter, I just wanted to make sure you were okay. When…when I saw your car on the road, the way it looked, all smashed in like that…it looked really scary. And after the last conversation we had, I don’t know what I would’ve done if…if you weren’t…if you didn’t…” Her voice trailed off.
“I’m fine, Jane. But…how did you see what happened to my car? Were you there?” Peter asked.
“I was…we were…driving by,” she started, avoiding his gaze.
“We?” Peter asked.
Then, an unfamiliar voice emerged from the corner of the room. “We were driving by,” Tristan said, taking two small steps into the room. “We were driving by to pick up my grandfather at the coffee shop down the street.” His expression was grave.
Amy’s eyes flew open. “Mr. Florence? You were coming to pick up Mr. Florence?”
Everyone but Peter turned to look at Amy, who appeared to be asleep up until that point. Tristan said, “Yes, Paul Florence. He’s my grandfather. How did he end up in your car —”
“How did you end up in his car?” Peter interrupted, still looking at Jane while pointing a shaky finger at Tristan. “Who is this guy?”
Jane had tears streaming down her face. She looked up at Peter, pleading. Tristan shook his head – he couldn’t bear this any longer – and said, “She’s been seeing me for the last year. I had no idea you two were together. She came to my apartment today to tell me that she had broken it off with you because she wanted to be with me.” He sighed and looked straight at Peter. “I’m sorry, man. Honestly, I had no idea.” He looked at Jane, disappointment in his eyes.
The silence that followed went on for what felt like hours. Finally, Amy said, “Well, this is awkward.” Nobody moved a muscle. The tension hung heavy and was threatening to explode in a second.
The nurse walked in. “You’re ready to go,” she said to Amy and Peter. Then she briskly walked out and shut the door behind her, completely oblivious to the shattering hearts inside the room.