High School Soap Opera
This door may be locked, but it’s wood. The smoke weakened the wall, so maybe it affected the door too. I kick at the door weakly, but nothing happens. I hit it with my fists. I try to shove my good shoulder into it. Nothing happens. I sit on the couch. After what I’ve been through, it’s ironic that the thing that’s going to do me in is a simple wooden door. I look around. There has to be something else.
Clearly I’m still suffering the effects of low oxygen to the brain, because on the opposite wall is a window. I unlock it and open the window by sliding up the glass. The screen is easy to remove, and I throw it to the center of the room. I look outside. It’s dark. It can’t still be Sunday, so it’s Monday night, maybe later. The shops across the parking lot are closed, so it’s late. At least there are a few lights in the parking light.
I look down, and I want to cry when I see the nice soft grass landing. It’s still a bit far to go face first, though. I push the desk over to the window and stand on it. I put one leg through the window then lower myself so I’m sitting. I put the other leg out the window, and duck my head through. I take a deep breath, and then jump down.
I can’t celebrate now, I have to get to safety. Why did I take off my shoes? I must look awful. Gash on the side of my head, smelling like rotten food and vomit, and barefoot. I start walking in the direction I think I came from last night. (Was it just one night ago? I don’t know, I’ll go with it.) I walk down the road slowly, thinking about how similar to a zombie I am right now. I touch the left side of my head. Maybe I’m more like a zombie’s victim.
I hear something in the distance. Is that a motorcycle? The sound is coming closer. No, it’s too slow to be a motorcycle. I see it in the distance, and there are two lights. A car. I am near a street lamp, so I go to stand beneath it. I try to raise my hands, but my shoulder hurts a lot. I raise the one I can and wave it back and forth. The car passes me, and my hand drops. I’m about to start walking again, but the car slowed to a stop. The driver gets out.
“Are you okay?” a woman calls. I try to say no, but my mouth is dry and no sound comes out. I can’t move any more, but she is walking toward me now. “Jenna?” She runs now, and when she gets here she is shocked. So am I, though – it’s Candace!
“Help,” I try to say. Again, no sound, but she saw it.
“Wait here, let me drive it back so you don’t have to walk.” She gets the car, then helps me into the passenger seat. I try to tell her what happened, but I can’t speak. “Don’t worry, I’ve got you. Just rest now, you can talk about it later. Oh here, I have some water.” She gets a bottle from the backseat, twists off the cap, and hands it to me. She drives away, and I close my eyes.
I drink the water slowly. When I finish, my mouth is still dry, but at least I might be able to speak. “Jack…” I say hoarsely.
“I’m taking you to the hospital. We can call him from there.” She’s driving fast, and I hope she doesn’t get pulled over for speeding. I open my eyes and look at the speedometer. It must be broken, because it says she’s only going 45.
“John…” I say, but it’s hard. I don’t think she even heard me. “John… bad…”
“Shh… You’re safe now, Jenna.” I relax back into the seat. She’s right, I should just rest for now. When we get to the hospital, she refuses to leave me alone in the car. She honks the horn outside the Emergency Room entrance until someone comes out to ask her to stop. She gets out of the car and hands the person her keys.
“I’m not a valet,” the nurse says. “Park your own car.”
“Do you see this woman?” Candace asks, helping me stand. “I’m not leaving her. So you can either park the car, or leave it here. I don’t care. But we’re going inside.” She helps me walk inside, then puts me in a wheelchair.
Candace didn’t lie when she said she wasn’t going to leave me. She called Monet and said that she had taken a friend to the hospital, then called the bar. Nobody answered, and I don’t have Jack’s phone number. She called Monet back and had her call Lukas, who is Monet’s neighbor, to get Jack’s home number. Meanwhile, I’ve been put on IV fluids and pain medication, and someone cleaned and stitched my head wound. I was right that they had to shave the area, but that’s the least of my concerns right now.
Candace is about to call Jack when an orderly says he has to take me to get an x-ray of my shoulder. He wheels me down the hall, and suddenly I’m afraid. He’s not in on it with John is he? I scream, and he stops. Candace comes running down the hall. “It’s okay, I’m here,” she says. She strokes the back of my hand. “I’m sorry,” she tells the orderly. “She must have been through something really bad. Can I come?”
“Usually no,” he says. “But if that’s going to keep her calm, then you can come this one time.” The x-ray is painful, but they get me back to my room in the ER pretty quickly.
Before she calls Jack, Candace looks at me, a worried look on her face. “I know you don’t want to think about this, but do you need them to do a rape kit?”
“No,” I say firmly. I know John took Ambrosia’s phone from my pocket, but I’m positive he didn’t rape me.
“Can you tell me what happened? The doctor is going to need you to tell her before you can leave anyway.”
“Nick is innocent,” I say. “I found evidence that pointed to John as the killer, and I texted him Sunday night from Ambrosia’s phone to come to Serenity’s pastry shop. There’s a camera there, the footage is on Serenity’s computer. It should be enough to convict John.”
“John did this to you?” she asks.
“He hit me in the head with Nick’s gun, I don’t know how he got it. I woke up in the walk-in fridge. I was handcuffed and tied up.” I look at my hands. The cuffs are gone. When did that happen? “What day is it?”
“It’s Tuesday night,” she says. I groan. It’s been longer than I thought. “Let’s call Jack, he should be here.”
“Call the police. I have to make a statement.”
A lot happens after my rescue. Jack brings the police the video from Ambrosia’s computer, showing her seducing John and coercing him to sign over her shares of the stock in Adaire’s company. The police find the walk-in fridge at Serenity’s pastry shop is exactly as I described it, and they find John’s DNA in the office, and his fingerprint on the broken escape button. They also find the footage on Serenity’s computer showing both Nick’s night there, as well as my conversation with John. After he knocked me out, he spoke to my unconscious body, telling me every detail of his plan, and he kept laughing and saying nobody would ever know now that I’ll be out of the way.
On Thursday, John is put in jail, and Nick is released. He comes straight to see me at the hospital, where I’m being kept for a few days to make sure there’s no lasting damage to my head and brain. Nick knocks lightly on the door, and I look up as he walks in. He brings me a dozen roses and a big blue teddy bear. He asks Jack if he can talk to me alone, and Jack says he’ll be in the family lounge down the hall.
“How are you feeling?” Nick asks. He sits in the chair that Jack was just using.
“I’ve been better,” I say, and I try to laugh. “They have me on some pretty good pain medication.” He smiles, but then his face grows serious.
“I heard what happened. I can’t believe you did all that for me.” He shakes his head. “I didn’t even know you until a few days ago.”
It’s now or never. Even if he thinks I’m crazy, I have to tell him the truth.
“I’m going to tell you a secret, but you can’t say anything until I’m done. No questions, because I can’t answer them.” He looks at me, and I can tell he’s curious. “I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I promise it’s not my head injury. This is the truth.” I wait a second, trying to figure out the best way to say it, and then decide it’s best to just say it. “You’re a soap opera character. Everyone here is. I don’t know how I got here. I was watching TV in my bedroom on Friday, I was talking to Adaire and Candace while watching a scene with them at the Stargazer Lounge, and the next thing I knew, I was there, standing in front of them.”
“I’m not an actor,” he says with a laugh.
“I know, you don’t believe me. I wouldn’t believe it if I were you. But I promise, it’s true. Ask me anything. Something I couldn’t possibly know unless I was there, or watching it on TV.” But he doesn’t. “Your first date with Olivia was at a carnival.” He gasps, and I keep going. “You rode the ferris wheel, and you wanted to kiss her but you didn’t. You won her a stuffed pig at the Test Your Strength game, and she still has it on her bed, but with her amnesia she doesn’t know it’s from you.”
“That’s impossible,” he says.
“You slept together on the third date. You were at her house, where she had made you a steak dinner. You brought her Pinot Grigio, which is her favorite wine.”
“How do you know all of that?” he asks, blushing.
“I told you, Spruce Ridge is my favorite soap opera. I don’t know how I got here, but I couldn’t let you go to jail for a crime you didn’t commit.” We’re both quiet for a few minutes. He’s trying to figure it out, but I can’t even explain how it happened, so I don’t expect him to understand.
“Does Jack know this?” he asks. “Did you tell anyone else?”
“No,” I say, and he looks surprised. “I’m just trying to say, again, why I have such a strong loyalty to you. You might have just met me, but I really have been watching you for years.”
“You told me on Sunday that I wouldn’t believe you when you said how you know so much, but you were wrong about one thing. I’m not the one who rescued Olivia from John. You are. And maybe, I can rescue her from herself.” He smiles at me, and I smile back. He stands and comes over to the bed, and then he kisses me. This time it’s on the cheek, and afterwards he doesn’t regret it this time. “Thank you, Jenna. I can never thank you enough.”
“You can thank me by never giving up on Olivia. You two are meant to be together, don’t forget that.”
“So what now?” he asks. “Are you staying here?”
“I don’t know how I got here, and I definitely don’t know how to get home. So yeah, for now I guess I’m staying here.”
Candace bursts in the door, calling, “Jenna!” She stops when she sees Nick. “NICK!” She runs over and hugs him. She always thought Nick would be her brother-in-law some day, and she was upset when he left town. Jack must have seen her running, so he follows her in.
“Hey there, Candy Cane!” Nick says. “How have you been?”
“Better now,” she says with a huge grin. She looks at me. “Jenna, the nurse said you can leave the hospital. She’s coming in a few minutes to disconnect the IV and do all the discharge papers.” She gives me a large bag, and I open it up. There’s a dress and shoes inside.
“What’s this for?” I ask. I’m happy for the clean clothes, but I think a dress might be overkill.
“Tonight is Olivia’s birthday party, and she said I should invite the girl who discovered that her boyfriend killed her best friend. I asked if I could invite a few other friends, and she said, and I quote, ‘Whatever.’ Nick, you have to come! Jack too, you’re all invited.”
I’ve decided to post my NaNoWriMo novel on my blog this year, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy it! And remember, this is all about having fun and writing a whole lot in a short period of time, so please don’t give me “corrections.” I’m not planning on going for publication anyway. Start at the beginning: Chapter One