“What is it? Tell me what’s going on.” Years of emergency training sets me into motion. I strip down and tug on my jeans before he can answer.
“You need to get in your car and meet me at the hospital.” His words are measured and concise, but it’s the weight of what isn’t said that causes my arms to shake.
I pull the phone away from my head and tug a sweatshirt on before bringing it back. “What happened, Nathan? Who is it?”
Socks. Keys. Wallet. Shoes. I sprint down the hall, and he still hasn’t answered me. I just hit the foyer when I ask again. “Who is it?” I hold my keys at my side, dangling from my index finger. Ragged breaths echo around the small space as I wait for him to get it over with.
The calm slips and I screech. “Who is it?”
Two seconds flat, the door’s ripped open. I clear the stairs and fire the engine of my car to life.
Nathan must hear it, and it knocks him out of whatever daze he’s in. “You need to drive careful. The snow last night left a lot of frozen areas on the road. Power’s out all across town.”
“You need to tell me what happened right now.”
“Picked up a shift. A call came through right before I called you. I’m in the ambulance right now. Single car accident. Hit a patch of black ice. I don’t know who got the information, but they shared it was Evelyn.”
Depressing the gas pedal, all I see is a blur of white. The trees, buildings, power lines all blend into a snowy canvas. The only thing on my mind is getting to Evelyn as quickly as possible. “Where is she?”
“It’ll be faster if you meet me at the hospital.”
“Nathan, I swear to god if you don’t tell me where she is I will never speak to you again.”
He rattles off an intersection five miles away from where I am.
“Cami,” he begins, but says no more as if he stops himself from sharing too much.
“Please.” My voice breaks on that one word, and I feel not an ounce of shame for it. “What more do you know?”
“It just… it’s bad. I can’t stop you from coming. Prepare yourself. I want you to focus on getting there safe. You can’t do anything for Evelyn if you get hurt on the way.”
“I don’t care about anything other than getting to her.” With each word, my chest tightens until I choke on a shuddering breath.
“Breathe, Cami. We’re two minutes out.”
The whoop of a siren sounds nearby. I’m close too. Snow blows across the road, inhibiting my view to near impossibility. The fight against the tears fails the closer I get to the scene. My heart pummels my ribs to the tune of a boxer working his punching bag. I can feel it without even placing a hand on my chest.
Nathan’s radio crackles and beeps across the phone line. I strain my ears as the first glimpse of flashing red and blue comes into view.
Vehicle is upside down. Reporting one DOA, over.
I hyperventilate. There isn’t enough oxygen in the world to slow my spastic diaphragm. My lungs ache and burn in their quest to supply my body with air. A strangled sound leaves my throat. One hand tears from the steering wheel, and I claw at my neck.
The sound of a door slamming comes over the phone. I forgot we’re still connected.
“Talk to me. I see you. Slow down, honey. You’re here.”
I have enough mind to slow the car down gently and not plow through the people working the scene. As soon as it stops moving, I slam the shifter in park and throw my door open. My body lurches faster than I can get my feet out, and I tumble out into the snow.
Wind whips my ears, and the entire world paints a frosty white scene. In my haste to leave, I’d forgotten a jacket, but the cold hardly registers. I crawl through the snow on my elbows and knees around my door, then push myself to my feet. Agony rips through my chest. A black body bag lays zipped in the snow, the shape showing it’s filled.
“Evelyn!” I scream, slipping across snow and ice to find her. Refusing to believe the possibility that she’s the body in the bag, my eyes da
rt around frantically, scanning the face of every person nearby. Several seconds pass before I realize I don’t even see the accident site, so I search for the car.