After receiving a full-ride scholarship to Mills College for Girls, it appears Sarah's future is all laid out before her ... that is until she walks into a poetry class led by Mr. Haddings, a student teacher from the nearby University of Washington. Suddenly, life on the UW campus seems very appealing, and Sarah finds herself using her poetry journal to subtly declare her feelings for Haddings. Convinced Mr. Haddings is flirting back, she sets off for school in the rain with a poem in her back pocket---one that will declare her feelings once and for all.Mr. Haddings has noticed Sarah's attention; the fallout from any perceived relationship with a student is too great a risk, and he has decided to end all speculation that morning.
But everything changes when Mr. Haddings feels a thud on his front bumper when he glances away from the road, and finds Sarah in the street with blood pooling beneath her.
Pulling out into traffic, listening to Pink Floyd, I drive down the dark road toward the school. My headlights illuminate the steady shower skimming the tall firs.
In our last class, I read the poem I intentionally wrote to make the truth clear to Sarah. It hit home so well, she wouldn’t meet my eyes afterward. I glance in the rearview. “There can’t be anything between us.” Gripping the steering wheel, I practice the words in case, by some minute chance, I still need them.
As I shift into third and coast down the hill, I reach for my vibrating phone to check an incoming text. My mom: Have a nice day. Ahead, someone exits the upcoming crosswalk, leaving the road clear. I go to tuck my cell into my inside jacket pocket, but I can’t find the opening. I look down, letting go of the wheel for just a second.
Cydni suddenly shouts, “Sares, the car!”
I straighten, tugging my eyes from her to the rumbling Mustang; my sopping shoes suction the wet street inches from the brilliant headlight. I lurch, flailing my arms and screaming from my gut, “No!”
The impact scoops me onto the sizzling hood. I’m sprawled like a broken loose-leaf binder, then shot off the side of the car. I’m flung through the air.
In the dark, through the tiny, stinging raindrops, I jangle apart. The Mustang’s red taillights squint smaller and smaller. The wet fir trees’ uplifted arms stretch toward me, their pungent needles pricking the air, but I fall, fall, fall. The black asphalt bites my scalp and cracks against my skull.
I flit my eyes up and slam the brakes, fishtailing to a stop on the roadside. My cup lid pops off, and hot coffee splashes across my jeans. When I curse and jerk, the cup tips completely.
Over the song “Another Brick in the Wall,” I hear someone screaming. I swipe at my wet pants. “What did I hit?” I whisper. “Not a person …” Looking over my shoulder, I see what could be a body on the edge of the road, maybe twenty-five yards back, and my stomach floats. It’s too dark to be sure.
My foot hovers above the accelerator, while the engine growls to fly. Go! Stay! Go!
The screaming’s louder. “My friend’s been hit! Help! Someone help!”