Ma leans over—her breath trembles on my brow—and she hugs me. “You know,” she tells the cop, “just because incidents go unreported doesn’t mean they don’t happen.”
“True,” he says. “Now, when was the last time you talked with your daughter, Mrs. Winters?”
“No,” says Ma. “By phone.”
“Anything you want to share with me about this conversation, Mrs. Winters?”
“My daughter kept telling me, ‘Ma, you’re going to love my new place just as much as I do. And don’t you worry. It’s safe. I don’t even have to lock the door.’”
“Now that,” says the cop, “is not too smart.”
Ma sighs. “It’s downright careless.”
If anyone would care to check under all these bandages, here I am, crestfallen. In some ways, the crime was my responsibility. Somehow, I must have caused it.
As if to drive home the guilt, Ma does something I’ve never known her to do before. She, who was always my tower of strength, is now breaking into tears. They drip onto my chin, between one sniff and another, and dampen the bandage around my neck.
I’m torn between the need to comfort her and the urge to separate myself away from this burdensome grief. Ma has mentioned that I loved my new apartment, which rings true even though I draw a blank on it. I can’t stand being forgetful. So I try to focus, try to bring the place back to mind.
How big, how bright is it?
At first I get nothing, no feel of that space, no detail of the lighting, inside or out. But then, ever so slowly, it floats to the fore, shimmering there for a while, until finally turning sharp.
I begin seeing the entrance. Here are the begonias, hanging left and right outside the door. Here, the familiar spot of rust next to the keyhole. Here, the chipped paint next to its hinges.
I try, in my mind, to unlock it.
The key is in my hand. I fumble a bit, until the door opens. As I take a step forward, the memory continues to clarify, and so do the sounds of the place.
The door raps to a close behind me. With sudden delight, I decide to escape into it—only to realize, soon after, that maybe I shouldn’t.
Ash finds herself in the ER diagnosed with coma. She has no memory of what has happened to her, but what she can do--despite what everyone around her might think--is listen to the conversations of her visitors. Will she survive the power outage in the hospital and then, being kidnapped out of it?
"It's that flirting with reality that makes this story such a compulsive read. Plot twists and suspenseful storytelling make this a book that you will have trouble putting down." ~Kathy Parsons