Authors: Abra Ebner
She stood and touched my face, and I wrapped my arms around her. I held her so tight that I could feel her heart beat against mine. The heart I had protected for so long. She kissed the inside of my neck, causing all my inhibitions to falter, and it was then that I gave up trying to save her, and instead gave in to what I wanted.
Statement from Dr. Ashcroft,
Vincent Memorial Hospital, Boston
August 4, 2009
He gave in then, didn’t he? I mean, stopped trying to be friends.
(laughter) That’s a personal question there, Agent, but yes. I suppose he thought he was healthier, and that he could handle it, but…
Now he’s here.
And so are you.
Yes, I am aware I am also in a hospital bed because of all this, though it’s strange to be on the other side of things as a doctor. I suppose it’s not so bad.
Yeah, I bet this is hard. You probably just want to doctor yourself.
I am okay with being here, I just wish I had known sooner, this never would have happened. I would have been okay, and so would he.
But we’ll get to that part right?
Right, first comes other things.
Right (pause). Anyway, so after that day, you became a couple, then. Correct?
Yes, and I started a career, and we started living together, as well. Look here, this is the part where he takes me to a horse race for the first time.
First and last right?
(laughter) Yes, you’re right.
Stories from the journals
of Patient #32185
June 7, 2008
“I like that one.” Kenzie pointed at a horse I had seen before.
“Him?” I cringed, seeing already that this was a bad idea. “You know, Big Brown is not a bad bet either.”
“Nope.” She was frank and to the point, her mind already made. “That one.”
“Da’ Tara? Really? But he’s the last place pick.” I was trying to make her change her mind in the nicest way possible.
“Yeah, so? I like him.” She gave me a stern look. “You’ve always told me about the time you picked the loser and won remember? This is my chance.”
I laughed and put my arm around her neck to give her a hug. “That’s true.”
“What are you going to bet on him?” She looked up at me.
We walked from the paddocks back to the main concourse at the Belmont in New York. “I’m not really sure.” I took out my checkbook and began to write something that made sense. For the first time, I had no clue which horse would be the winner and it felt strange, like walking blind in a dark room.
“Bet a lot. Come on, it’s my first time and I want it to be exciting.” She seized my arm, looking down at my hand that held the checkbook.
My stomach wrenched into a knot. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust her choice. It was that her choice was the last place pick. “Alright, I will.”
I wrote the check and handed it to her and her eyes got wide. “Twenty thousand dollars! Really?”
“Kenzie, quiet. You say that and people will clamor to make the same bet as us, thinking we have some sort of inside info,” I whispered under my breath.
“Oh.” She brought her hand to her mouth to silence herself.
I grinned, finding her innocence cute. “You go pay. I’ll go get us something to drink.” After writing a check like that, I needed one.
“You’re going to let me pay? But I don’t know what to do.” Her eyes looked lost.
“You can do it, Kenzie. Seriously. If you can extract a toy truck from a boy’s esophagus, you can do anything.” I nudged her on the arm.
She gave me a proud smile. Kenzie had landed a job at the Vincent Memorial Hospital where she quickly became a favorite with everyone, not that I was surprised. She was always happy and always smiling, so naturally people were drawn to her. Everyone saw what I had that day on the bus, the love at first sight and the beauty deep inside.
I watched her walk away before turning to find the restrooms, then the bar. I rounded a corner and saw the sign overhead, but as I looked down, my heart sank and I lost the need to pee. I halted for a moment, wishing I could turn around and slink away, but finding at this point, there was no getting out of it.
I let out a low growl. “I don’t know if I should be happy to see you or not.” I shoved my hands into the pockets of my suit pants.
She looked at me from under her same hood. “What are you doing?”
I shrugged. “What do you mean? It’s just a bet. It’s not like I know who’s going to win.”
Molly’s jaw clenched. “I don’t mean the betting…” she paused. “Though you should trust Kenzie on her choice.” She tilted her head, giving the thought consideration as I did.
I laughed. “Well, that certainly takes a load off my mind.” My laughter faded as I saw Molly didn’t find it amusing.
“You know why I’m here, and you know what I mean when I ask what you’re doing.” She pointed to my pocket.
“What?” I pretended not to know what she was talking about.
“Jordan, don’t play dumb,” she glared at me. “It’s not that I’m against it, but here I was living my own little life and find that when I come to check on you, you’re about to get engaged?”
“I thought I told you to just be friends with her.” She crossed her arms against her chest.
“Well, it didn’t work out. I tried, really I did,” I frowned as she rolled her eyes and struggled not to smile. She hadn’t changed at all since that last time I’d seen her, right down to her clothes, as though she hadn’t aged in the last three years.
“I guess this is it then.” She looked at me with her electric eyes.
“This is what?” I was a little short with her, but I was tired of the games.
“Where it all begins.” She raised her eyebrows.
I exhaled sharply, “Where what begins?”
She had a smug look on her face now. “I don’t think telling you is the right thing. It could be a detriment…” she trailed off.
“Molly, it’s really hard to believe you when you’re like this.” I dropped my hands to my sides and analyzed her with a critical eye. “Why don’t you age?” I began to turn the attention on her.
She blinked a few times, as though she were trying to make up an excuse in her head. Her lips pursed as she found her answer. “It’s part of why we’re different, Jordan, that’s all.”
I nodded, finding there was little else to say to her. “What’s with the hood, then. Does it make you feel sneaky or something?”
She laughed. “Thanks, Jordan. You really know how to compliment a girl.”
I smiled. “At least you laugh from time to time. Seriously, what happened to you?” I was joking when I said it, but Molly’s smile faded.
“Life, Jordan, just as it has for you.” She shifted her weight.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize that was a sore subject.” I relaxed a little, letting down my guard. “So, does this mean I’ll be seeing you more?”
She shrugged, but I could tell my earlier question was still bothering her, “Maybe a little sooner than three years, yes.”
We stopped talking for a moment, and things got awkward. I wanted to know what she knew and what was about to happen, but considering she seemed calm about it, I didn’t figure it was pressing.
“Well, I better get going.” I broke the silence. “Thanks for dropping in, though.” I tried to smile at her, but found it hard.
She looked up at me. “Yeah, I better get going as well. Take care, Jordan.” She turned to walk away but halted herself, twisting back to face me. “Just remember that in life, sometimes bad things happen for a reason, perhaps even for something good.”
Her words were eerie but true, and I bowed my head. She nodded and I took it as my cue to leave, so I pushed past her and went into the restroom, finally getting my chance to pee. When I came back out, she was gone, though I still felt her presence watching me from somewhere nearby. I scanned the crowd but did not see the familiar sweatshirt. I felt my heart sink. A hand grabbed my arm and I jumped, turning around and coming face to face with Kenzie.
“Oh, there you are. Did you fall in? The race is about to start!” She was jumping up and down with excitement. I laughed, forgetting Molly as I took her hand and we walked to the rail where we stood as the horses rattled in the gate, anxious to run as they loved to do.
The trumpet played and Kenzie was beaming. It was nice to see her so happy, perhaps the happiest I had ever seen her in all her life; or rather, lives. I saw then that this was truly meant to be, that we were destined to be here in this life together, at this moment.
The gun went off and the gates opened. The horses leapt onto the track, mud flying in their wake. To my surprise, I saw Big Brown at the back, slow out of the gate. I chuckled to myself as Da’ Tara sped for the lead, thinking of Molly and the fact that this win was pure luck for the first time in my life.
I reached into my pocket where I felt for the ring, rolling it around in my fingers. I took a deep breath and pulled it out as the horses rounded the track, my gaze now stolen by its beauty and its meaning. I wanted to do this before the excitement of winning. I wanted to make sure she knew that it was for love, not money. I nudged Kenzie as the ring sat in my palm, grabbing her hand. I let go then, leaving the ring behind as a strange look crossed her face. I watched her in amusement as her brow crinkled.
The horses had made it half a mile now, but she pulled her attention away from them and to the ring, all life dissolving around us and leaving only the sound of our hearts beating. She gazed at it in her hand for what felt a long while, her face frozen and her eyes reflecting the light from the diamond.
She looked at me. “Really?”
I nodded. “Really.”
The crowd around us came screaming back, the sound now deafening as a smile grew on Kenzie’s face. A voice boomed over the speakers, announcing the winner, “Da’Tara wins the two thousand and eight Belmont Stakes.”
Her face did not flinch when she heard it, instead she remained focused on the ring, plucking it from her hand and placing it on her finger. Her eyes welled with tears.
“I love you, Kenzie, always have and always will.” I touched her cheek where a tear began to fall.
“Always, Jordan,” and she kissed me, pulling back moments later with a big smile on her face. “And we won!”
I laughed as the joy in her bubbled over and she jumped up and down in circles, the spectators beside us watching her as though she had gone stark mad. I glanced past her where I saw the crowd part, and Molly stood along the rail, her arm leaning against it in a relaxed pose. Though her eyes were hidden under her hood, she could not hide the fact that she was smiling. I smiled back, giving her a wink before she turned and walked away.
“Jordan,” Kenzie stopped bouncing and touched my arm. “How much did we win exactly?” She looked confused but cute.
My mouth felt dry at the thought, afraid to say it. “Almost a million dollars,” I grinned.
“Are you serious?” She started jumping up and down again, her eyes even wider than before.
I nodded with a cool look on my face, trying my best to stay calm though it felt good to finally live. I had to admit, her choice on a horse with 38/1 odds was no longer anything to frown about. And after all, it was a good present for the future, a future that was still a lie, but by now it was a lie I felt I could live with.
Statement from Dr. Ashcroft,
Vincent Memorial Hospital, Boston
August 4, 2009
There she was again, though.
(pause) Sorry, Agent. I’m just shocked.
Something horrible was about to happen, wasn’t it? Was it this? You in the hospital, and Jordan…
Yes. Yes, I believe so.
But he did nothing to try and find out what it was from Molly?
I often caught him sitting in the library in deep thought, but when I asked him about it, he blew it off. I suppose he was worried about the outcome, worried he would die if he tried to Shift to the future to see. As far as I know, Molly never told him, she never came back, but then again, I didn’t even know about Molly to begin with.
Of course. So then, what was it that made him finally decide to Shift?
I think you know, Agent.
Well, I can see that, but where was Molly in all this? Why didn’t she stop it?