Four days to cheque Wednesday and Maddie’s broke. The money from February lasted two weeks, which was record breaking, but now the rent’s been paid and it’s back to walking alleys, looking in restaurant dumpsters for food. As with most things in her life, she finds that timing is everything. If you don’t get to the dumpster quickly, rats get dibs on leftovers. Maddie knows. She’s fought with a few of them for donuts when she was desperate.
She pushes her bangs out of her eyes. Her thick black hair can be unruly so she wears a bowed red velvet ribbon to tame it. The ribbon was a gift from her father on her 17th birthday. It was the only present he ever bought her and Maddie figures he shot himself to get out of buying her another on her 18th.
Annaluk scores crack several blocks away and says she’s brought some back for Maddie to make the day go faster. Maddie remembers too well the feeling last time Annaluk shared her stash, so says thanks, I’d appreciate it.
Laying down so Annaluk can shoot the day-hastening pain relief directly into her jugular, Maddie waits for the blissful feeling to overtake her. And for a few minutes, it does. But then, she starts to shake. Her ivory white skin turns ashen and the shaking turns into violent tremours. Annaluk calls down the alley to the medic team trolling the neighbourhood distributing clean needles, then runs off in the opposite direction.
Thirty-six hours later, Maddie stirs in bed, squinting in pained recognition she’s in the hospital. Opening her eyes, she tries to focus on the face looking down at her. After several minutes she realizes the face she’s staring into is a handsome one, complete with kind blue eyes. The intern smiles as he watches her closely. And then, as if anticipating the questions now rushing through her brain, Dr. Reg Alprince shows his hospital identification card, introduces himself and says:
“Welcome back Maddie. You’ve been asleep for quite a long time. I’m glad I was here to wake you up."