Ross knew he shouldn't have stayed up so late last night. He wasn't supposed to have, but he had been invited to the party last minute and he just couldn't pass it up. It had turned out he didn't even have a good time anyway. He had overslept, and had only ten minutes to get ready and make it to his doctor's appointment. If he missed one more, they wouldn't let him get check-ups there anymore. That's how understanding people were these days. He wouldn't even have bothered going, but he had a kind of fear of illness and would have liked to avoid it as much as possible.
He hurried down Prescott Road, five minutes late already. He was already in a bad mood, and then it had to start raining. It took only seconds to soak through his jeans and hooded sweatshirt - he didn't even bother trying to put the hood up. His brown hair was stuck to his head by streams of water. He cussed in irritation as he ploughed on through the rapidly swelling puddles.
He turned the corner into Crowhill Street, on which his doctor was located, and splashed along the pavement in low spirits. The whole world looked grey today. The houses were all washed-out and broken down anyway, but through the sheeting rain and iron sky it looked even more of a dump.
He was squinting through the onslaught when he thought he saw something in the middle of the street. It looked like someone wearing a black blazer, dancing or something. Were they out of their mind? Or was it him, out of his mind?
A car swooshed past him, sending a tidal wave of rainwater splashing into him. He stood still for a second, furiously, fists clenched as the water soaked through and stuck his sopping clothes to his legs.
Then he heard the grating squeal of brakes, and looked back at the road to see the red blur of the Ford Fiesta careering onto the pavement. But now there was a black huddle in the middle of the road.
Had there really been someone there? Had they been hit? He quickened his pace, expecting the owner of the car to jump out and run to the crumpled form, but to his surprise the car started up again. The driver gunned the engine and shot off down the road, turning left at the end of the street. Ross felt anger buble inside him as he started to run. The rain had made it impossible to see the registration plate.
As he got closer he could see that it was an unconscious girl lying there, her limbs arranged awkwardly where she had fallen, and her hair spread out around her head, plastered to the ground by the rain. He touched her soaked shoulder hesitantly. He couldn't shake her to wake her up, or move her to the side of the road. She might have internal injuries. Her face was as white as a ghost, with lavender semi-circles under her closed eyes. Her long black eyelashes were stuck to her face like spider's legs. There was a spot of blood growing at the corner of her mouth.
He panicked. It had just been one of those ordinary crappy days, and then... then this. He knelt down, not even caring about the dirt getting on his already soaking wet jeans, and grabbed her limp clammy hand. He squeezed it gently, but there was no response. He couldn't remember what he was supposed to do. Was it the recovery position? But he couldn't move her. CPR? Was she breathing? Oh God, she wasn't, her chest wasn't moving, was she dead?
He pulled out his mobile phone and quickly dialled the emergency services number, requesting an ambulance. They advised him to try chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth if she wasn't breathing.
He tried, but the way she was lying it was impossible. He pressed his lips to her still mouth and breathed air into her, but she didn't move. Was it too late for her?
He searched through the pockets of her blazer, hoping to find something to tell him who she was. He found nothing but a silver key and a scrap of paper with the name 'Rosie' written on it. Was she Rosie?