Say “Cheese” – Part 1

The girl turned her head, a suspicious expression falling over her features for a moment. Tollin held her hands up, palms out, showing no ill intentions.

“I promise, I’m not going to hurt you. This is just your chart — pretty empty, since you didn’t let us get any information from you. And I’m not going to sedate you anymore, okay? The nurses gave you something to calm you, and I need to make sure it’s not something you’re allergic to. Can I come closer?”

The girl twittered like a hovering hummingbird, watching Tollin sidelong, then nodded and wiped a sleeve to dry the beaded sweat on her upper lip.

Tollin moved with deliberate, careful movements. She didn’t want to spook her anymore. She showed all the signs of shock, but wasn’t catatonic or sleeping. When she reached the bedside, she laid the chart at the girl’s feet and rested her hands on it, so they were both visible to the nervous patient.


The girl didn’t respond. She trembled, a frightened rabbit in a trap.

“I’m not going to hurt you, I promise. No more shots, no more orderlies and nurses holding you down. I’m just going to talk to you, okay? Will you try and answer me? It’s really important.”

Her face sank and her fingers whitened over the black thing in her lap. She swallowed hard and wiped her brow with her sleeve.

“I won’t take that away from you either, I promise. But I have to get some information from you, and I need you to answer me, okay? Can you do that for me, Melody?”

A hesitation, a gulp, a sniffle … then a nod. “O-okay. I-I-I’ll t-try.”

A wash of relief slipped over Tollin — she could speak, was lucid.

“Okay, that’s great. Thank you. Can I … take your hand? I need to get your heart rate — you know, your pulse, okay?”

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