After losing his wife in a car crash, Mitchell Hudson finds himself at a loss. His life, which once revolved around his first love, has ended with her death, which makes him turn to schedules and routines to keep living each day.
Outside of the city, there's a girl. She's been in a car accident and is badly hurt in a hospital. Her memory is hazy and she has no one--no family, no friends--around to know she's not okay.
Then there's the house. The house that seems to be calling Mitchell in his dreams, the house that seems to be luring him out of his dreary existence into a new life. A new life that doesn't revolve around schedules, but around a new love of life.
She had been in the hospital bed for what felt like days, but could have been weeks—years, even. Drifting in and out of consciousness, hovering between life and death, she felt like she was playing a game of peek-a-boo with herself, hiding away when she least expected it and then popping out into the light of the world to her own surprise.
Now and then her brain would be alert and she would catch the tail ends of conversations between doctors and nurses—she had no family to speak of—hearing the words “ruptured spleen,” or “broken ribs,” or—the worst of all—“possible brain damage.”
She wanted to yell out that her brain was fine, that she was fine, but as she yelled, she could hear no sound. She wasn’t sure if her mouth was even moving, or if the screaming was just in her head. She wanted to wave her arms around, stomp her feet, scream and shout, knock over the fancy machines that surrounded her bed—the big and heavy ones—so they would make loud noises and rumble the floor; if only she could get up out of the bed—if only she could feel anything besides the humming of the thoughts in her head.
Occasionally, she would see visions of bent steel, red and orange flames intermingling with the falling snow. She remembers dreaming of the passing of Canadian geese against the clear, blue sky when her world suddenly went dark.
She could still smell the charred flesh through short bouts of breath and taste the metallic, warm blood in her mouth. Sometimes she would wake in the night in a panic, catching a glimpse of tubes, not knowing where they started or what their purpose was—her eyes struggling to see the state of her body.
During these small—and rare—bouts of consciousness, she lay worried, not able to move any part of her self, not able to move her head, not even certain her eyes were open.
She wanted to talk to someone—anyone—who could explain to her what happened. She wanted to ask about her mother (was my mother still alive?), she wanted to ask about Ash and Riley (was it Riley? Or was it Rider?), her Bernese mountain dogs (or were they Springer spaniels?). Then in the same painful breath she wondered if she had kids, or a husband—she wasn’t sure, she couldn’t remember. Maybe the doctors were right, maybe there was something wrong with her brain. Maybe she did have brain damage.
‘Is it a dream?’ she wondered. ‘Surely, this is a dream and I’m going to wake up in my own bed, feel the thumping tales of my dogs beating on the mattress, hear the cries of the coyotes in the distance. I will wake up. I will wake up …’