Gabrielle hummed as she dusted her room. She was very particular about the state of her living area, and kept her accessories in meticulous order, fortnightly dusting even the top shelf of the bookcase three feet above the top of her head.
The tune she hummed was a cheerful melody, and her spirits began to rise as she emptied the dustpan out the window. In fact, her feet seemed to rise with her energy, and it was not long before Gabrielle was dancing around the room, performing a lively waltz with the dustpan.
Bang! The peace was disturbed by a loud knock at the door and the joy evaporated.
“Hello? What is it?” she called, a little fearfully, for that knock had been forceful and abrupt indeed, and seemed to be rich with foreboding. She shuffled to the door and tried to undo the bolt, but upon hearing a wordless shout from somewhere outside and a thundering on the stairs, retraced her movements. What was going on?
“Hello! Gabrielle Mountain? Open up; I need to speak with you!” the gruff voice of a man vibrated through the wooden door.
Gabrielle felt her knees quaking as she drifted over to the window from whence was coming shout after shout. The squeals of an ambulance siren could be heard in the distance coming closer.
Pushing the window up further, she ducked her neck and stuck her head out. Her room was situated on the East corridor of Angel College, looking out over one of the main roads of Melif. It was a busy road, but Gabrielle on the fourth floor did not get much of the noise. Now she got a lot of noise.
Angling her eyes in a downwards direction, Gabrielle saw the scene of an accident down below. One car seemed to be smashed into a lamppost, which was leaning at an ominous angle. Another car had swerved and its backside was crushed against a railing, one wheel falling into the rut created by some steps going downwards from the street to a basement kitchen on the other side of the road. And in the middle of the road, lying face upwards, was a figure, and this figure interested Gabrielle the most.
She could not see him clearly, for there was a crowd gathered, but it seemed that he had been crossing the road at the time of the accident, and a car had swerved into a lamppost to avoid him. In turn, the other car had evidently been driving very quickly, and braked abruptly on coming upon the scene. Gabrielle could see the black scars of tyre marks making a fraction of a circle on the road. The driver was staggering from this second car, where the other driver appeared to be unconscious against his wheel, Gabrielle could see through the roof window.
“Please open up! You are needed at the scene of a grave accident!” shouted the man outside the door, kicking it savagely with an urgency that could scarcely be ignored.
Just then one of the crowd shifted away from the anxious group, gone to meet the ambulance, which had just appeared at the end of the street. And Gabrielle found herself looking down into the face of none other than Dominick Cardington.
They had been going out for six months now, it being a year since Dominick had proposed to Trudy O’Brian, and eight months since she had broken up with him. These eight months had been a happy time for Gabrielle Mountain, who felt finally fulfilled, finally satisfied; finally she had a reason to be joyful.
Dominick, in turn, had got a good job in Melif as an assistant in a camera shop. He didn’t know much about cameras, but the pay was good, and he was saving diligently so that one day he could marry Gabrielle and support a family. Gabrielle knew that he was finding it hard work, with long hours and the majority of his pay going to his family in Harrington or into his savings account.
He lived in lodgings a little like the ones in which Gabrielle had spent the first eighteen months of her independent life. Gabrielle had applied for him to stay with her, but the University did not welcome the idea of non-students living in their quarters, and so that plan had failed.
Gabrielle, on the other hand, was thriving. Her own savings account had come into validity on her twentieth birthday a year hence, and she had plenty of money with which to treat her man for dinner and contribute towards his rent, though his pride did not appreciate this generosity nearly as much as it was worth.
So their days settled into a steady regime of happiness and love, and when we return to this time, when Dominick appeared to be still and lifeless on the tarmac, we can scarcely imagine Gabrielle’s emotions.
Pausing just a few seconds longer, her feet flew to the door, where she unbolted the lock with trembling fingers, then shoved her way past a surprised, but rather angry by this time, police officer, and tripped down the stairs as fast as she could go.
She arrived at the scene just as Dominick was being loaded onto a stretcher by official-looking nursemen, and started off after them, running.
“Dominick! Dominick!” she screamed, the tears pouring down her face, and the men paused with the stretcher.
“Dominick, my love!” she cried, reached his still body and throwing herself on top of him, even in his grave state.
“Miss, I really don’t think…” said one of the men, but another stopped him.
“Don’t bother about it, Laurence,” he said. “I reckon it’s only a broken ankle and a spot of concussion. He’s not dead, you know!”
“He’s not exactly well…”
“Just leave her. They’re probably students who’ve had no sleep for a week.”
“Dominick,” sobbed Gabrielle into his shirt.
And then the miracle seemed to happen. Dominick stirred a little, and looked up, his grey eyes moulding into Gabrielle’s green ones.
“Gabrielle,” he whispered, touching a strand of her hair.
Then Gabrielle fainted.