There was a folded note on the kitchen counter and her engagement ring…
PRESENT DAY… Sarah wipes her mouth on a tissue, as she walks through the hospital parking lot looking for her car. She stops, when she realizes that she left it at the scene of the accident along with her purse, I.D and cell phone. “Shit.” They must have towed it. She’d have to call the police to find out where. She is in no shape to go on an extravagant treasure hunt, and she isn’t even sure how’d she get there without her wallet. She looks around the parking lot aimlessly, when Dax’s Parents exit.
They see Sarah looking lost. Dax’s Dad approaches her. “Sarah, are you okay?”
Truth is, she’s really upset. And she just wants to get her car, get some sleep, and not think until morning. “I left my car and all of my belongings at the scene.”
Dax’s Dad mobilizes. “Let me check where they towed it, and we’ll drive you over.” Both disappear into the hospital, while Sarah sits on a bench to wait.
If she had a choice, she wouldn’t spend the next hour or so with Dax’s parents. While she adores them, they are the last people she wants to see right now. But she has no choice.
Funny… Dax told her she had no choice once and she stormed out on him. Wrong thought to have right now. It, too, was about the baby. God, all she wants is to have some alone time to just weep… with no one looking.
Dax’s Parents emerge quickly. They have the address of the impound lot, along with the directions. Sarah follows them to their car. Luckily, they are all a bit worn from the day, and no one pushes her to talk.
The ride is quick, and the lot attendant allows her to get her I.D. from the car to prove it’s hers. Dax’s Dad stays with her until he’s sure that she has her keys in hand. “Do you have a room for the night?”
Sarah nods. “I just need to get some sleep. Thank you for everything.”
Dax’s Dad gives her a hug. “We’ll see you in the morning.” Dax’s parents drive off.
Sarah sits on the driver’s side of her parked car for a while. She checks her cell phone in the cup holder. Twenty-one missed calls. Yet, another thing that she has to deal with. The phone rings while it’s still in her hand. She reluctantly answers. “Hello.”
It’s Mike, a solid reminder that present day life exists. They’d been together for more than a year, but he definitely feels more than she does.
He’s relieved to hear her voice. He’s been calling her for days, not knowing if she was alive or dead. “Oh my God, Sarah. Where have you been?”
She explains that there was an accident but she’s okay. He insists that he drive out to get her. It’s only three hours from home, two if he speeds. She refuses. “No. It’s complicated.” She just needs a few more days to sort things out. She pauses. That’s when she spots Dax’s ring on her finger. It’s still there.
She’s distracted as Mike reacts. “Sarah, it’s always complicated with you. I agreed to give you space, thinking you’d un-complicate things. But you’re getting further away. And now I’m worried about you.”
She hears the last sentence and reassures him. “I’m fine.”
He doesn’t believe her. “You’re not telling me everything.”
Sarah can’t do this conversation now. It’s too much. “Just give me a few more days and I’ll explain everything when I see you.”
Mike reluctantly agrees, but he makes her promise before he hangs up, that she’ll call in the morning. She promises and puts her phone back in the cup holder.
She pulls her open duffle bag from the floor. There’s a clean T-shirt and jeans. And on top is a small ring box. She opens it up to see the modern engagement ring inside. She looks at Dax’s ring on her finger, then back at the contents of the box. It’s just too much to think about right now. She needs sleep. She closes the box and throws it back in the duffle.
She puts on a language CD, this time French. It relaxes her. She slinks down in the seat and closes her eyes. She’s too tired to look for a hotel room.
In the morning, Dax rises early with the doctor’s visit. He’s come to observe Dax before visiting hours and has him perform various tasks, like raising his arms in the air and turning his head to the right, then left. “How are you feeling?”
Dax looks at the clock anxiously. “Good. Is that time right?” The clock says seven.
The Doctor continues his examination. “Yes. Any dizziness?” He puts a thermometer in Dax’s mouth.
Dax talks right through the obstruction. “No. What time do visiting hours start?”
The Doctor is concerned by Dax’s anxiousness. “Eight. Nausea?”
Dax shakes his head and looks at the clock again.
Dax’s Mom walks in. “Good morning.” She gives Dax a kiss while the Doctor continues his examination.
Dax looks at her puzzled. “How did you get in? I thought visiting hours start at eight. Is Sarah with you?”
Dax’s Mom smiles. “Slow down. I just walked in. No one stopped me. I haven’t seen Sarah yet, but I’m sure she will be here soon.”
Dax looks exhausted from worry. “I can’t shake this feeling. I’m anxious like somehow I’m going to lose Sarah.”
The doctor writes on a piece of paper and hands it to Dax. “It might be a good idea if you spoke with a colleague of mine. It’s not unusual to suffer from anxiety after a traumatic accident.”
Dax looks at the paper. “When can I get out of here?”
The Doctor points to the paper. “I’ll have her come by first.”
The doctor exits. Dax stares at the clock until it turns eight. In between, his Dad enters and wishes him good morning. Both his Dad and Mom watch Dax watch the clock. Their concern for their son is mounting.
Moments after it turns eight, Sarah enters with a fresh change of clothes and a renewed energy. Dax smiles broadly. She carries a small brown bag.
She sees his parents already there. “Am I late? I thought visiting hours just started.” She walks over to Dax and hands him the small bag. “I remembered you liked these.” Of course she remembered. It was his favorite thing on the planet.
Dax peeks inside. “Mmm.”
Sarah sees his smile and feels herself drawn in. She had promised herself when she woke that she would maintain boundaries today. But here they are. It’s just past eight am and their lips are about to…
The moment is interrupted by a voice in the doorway. It’s Mike. “Sarah?”
Sarah spins abruptly, to see Mike, mid-30’s in a suit. “What are you doing here?”
Dax looks at Sarah confused. “Sarah?”
Sarah spins back around to Dax.
Luckily Dax’s Dad runs interference. “Sarah, is this your new boss that you were telling us about?”
Mike is puzzled and annoyed but doesn’t immediately bust their cover.
Sarah looks at both of them. “This is Mike.”
Dax’s Dad extends a hand. “Mike, our son has been through a terrible accident recently. We’re trying to limit the activity in his room. Would you mind stepping into the hallway with me?”
Mike is stunned but follows.
Dax looks distressed. “I don’t remember Mike.”
Sarah tries to reassure him. “He’s new. Don’t worry. It will all come back to you.” She leans in to kiss his forehead.
Dax’s Mom reminds Sarah. “Maybe you should see what your boss needs. He did come all this way.”
Sarah nods and turns toward the hallway, while his Mom preoccupies Dax.
Once in the hallway, Sarah walks toward Dax’s Dad and Mike. Mike is pacing as Dax’s Dad attempts to explain. “I apologize for the ruse, but you can understand why I want to protect my son.”
Mike turns to Sarah. “You agreed to this?”
Dax’s Dad leaves them. Sarah tries to calm Mike. “Yes. I have to.”
Mike is livid. “How far will you take this, Sarah? He thinks he’s married to you.” Sarah doesn’t answer and Mike throws his arms up in the air. “How far?”
Sarah shushes him. She doesn’t want Dax to hear.
Mike walks away and then quickly comes back. “I need air. Meet me downstairs in fifteen minutes.” He disappears into the stairwell.
Dax looks concerned when Sarah returns to his room. “What aren’t you telling me?”
Sarah tries to play it off. “What do you mean?”
He addresses his parents but does not move his gaze from Sarah. “Give us a minute.”
Dax’s Mom begins to protest but he cuts her off. “I need to speak with Sarah alone.”
Dax’s Parents look to Sarah. Sarah nods and they leave.
Dax moves over on his bed to make some room. He pats the mattress next to him calmly. “Come sit by me.”
Sarah walks over slowly and sits on the bed next to him.
Dax takes her hand. “I know you like a book, Sarah. What’s going on?”
Tears well in her eyes. After all this time, he still knows her so well. She wants to tell him. “There’s so much.”
Dax swallows the lump in his throat. “Are you having an affair?”
She laughs. “Never.”
Dax seems slightly relieved, but now for the big question. “Do you not love me anymore? Because you’ve been so distant since I woke.”
The tears now run down her face. Sarah shakes her head. “That’s not it.”
Dax gently wipes the tears from her face. “Then what is it?”
Sarah looks deep into his gaze. “Dax, I’ve never lied to you. Can you trust me? I just can’t tell you right now.”
He studies her face for a moment then nods. She leans her head against his shoulder.
Their moment is interrupted by a middle-aged woman in glasses. She introduces herself as the psychologist that his doctor referred him to. “I thought you and I might have a chat.”
Dax smiles in greeting. “I want to get out of here, Doc. Do you think you could help me with that?”
The psychologist smiles. “Let’s just see about that.”
Sarah kisses Dax on the forehead. “I’m just going to pop downstairs for a minute. I’ll be right back.”
Sarah descends the stairwell toward the outside, where she knows Mike is waiting for her. She’s not anxious to have this conversation, but there is no delaying it any further. Mike stands near the bench where she found a moment of peace last night. He stares blankly at the horizon. Sarah approaches him.
Without looking at her he wants to know. “Is this the guy?”
Sarah closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. “Yes.” After a prolonged silence Sarah interjects. “How did you find me?”
Mike seems annoyed. “Well I decided to drive to the hospital this morning. I didn’t want to wait on another call. As luck would have it, you were going in at the same time… so I followed you.”
Sarah’s not comfortable with his amateur stalking, but she can understand also.
Mike turns to face her. “So it appears that you can’t shake the past. Even if you wanted to?”
Sarah shakes her head. “It really never was fair to you.”
Mike sighs. “I never said it was.” He glances at her hand and spots Dax’s ring on her finger and his countenance changes from disappointed to shock. “What the hell is that?”
Sarah is stunned. She forgot it was there.
Mike is livid again. “So you’re still not wearing my ring, but you can pretend to wear his. How twisted is that Sarah?”
The tears are welling in her eyes. “You don’t understand. It’s…”
Mike finishes her sentence for her. “Complicated. I know.”
Sarah pulls the modern engagement ring from her jeans pocket. She hands it to Mike. He balls his fist around it and walks toward his car. But he stops midway and calls back to her. “I’ll be at the Best Western tonight. Then I’m going home to pack.” Even through it all, he’s holding out some hope that she will change her mind.
Sarah returns to the third floor to find Dax’s Parents waiting in the hallway. Dax wasn’t quite finished with the psychologist. Dax’s Mom steps toward her first. “Are you okay? I’m sorry if we made things complicated for you.”
Sarah shakes her head. “No. That was my own doing.”
Dax’s Dad is concerned that she may have told Dax more than they had wanted to yet. “What did you tell Dax?”
Sarah smiles. “Nothing. I just asked him to trust me.”
Dax’s Dad puts his arm around her shoulder. “You did good, kid. Thank you.”
Beth’s Parents approach from the end of the hallway. Dax’s Dad spots them first and walks over. While they’re still grieving they seem to be at peace now that they know Beth will be coming home with them to be put to rest. Beth’s Dad greets him. “We thought we’d check on things before we head to the airport.”
Dax’s Dad shakes his hand. “Still the same here. No signs yet of regaining his memory.
The door to Dax’s room opens and Dax emerges behind the psychologist.
Dax’s Mom smiles as she’s happy to see him out of bed. Dax shakes the doctor’s hand then calls out to Sarah. “The shrink thinks I’m just fine. Sarah, we can go home soon.”
Beth’s Parents’ smiles fade and they look at everyone in confusion. Beth’s Dad’s words strike in anger. “And what about Beth?”
Dax again looks puzzled and growing distressed. He recognizes Beth’s parents from the other day, but still doesn’t know who they are. “Who is Beth?”
Beth’s Mom breaks into a sob. Her husband puts his arm around her. “I think it’s time we go.”
Dax’s Dad walks them to the elevator to try to explain, but it’s really no use. They have drawn their own conclusions and they won’t be talked out of it.
The Psychologist looks around at the group and then Dax. “I think a more relaxed setting is in order. I’ll talk with your doctor. The sooner you have peace and quiet, the better.”
Dax is still puzzled and looks to Sarah for answers. “There are a lot of holes in my memory, huh?”
Sarah grabs his hand and gives it a squeeze. “Don’t worry. It will come back to you. Just give it time.” The truth is, Sarah is worried about that moment. How will he react? Will he blame her? Will he tell her to get out? She tries not to think about it.