Amber and I decided to leave about twenty minutes before the dance ended, so we wouldn't have to compete to get a cab. I tried calling Nikki to see if she got home alright, but her phone rang twice and went to voicemail.
As we were pulling up to the apartment building, we saw an ambulance close up the doors and speed away towards the hospital. Two police cars surrounded the area, and we saw two disheveled men being shoved carelessly inside. The road was blocked off, so we had to get out and walk. I thought there might have been an attempted robbery, but that didn't make sense. No one rich lived in these apartments. As we drew closer, and the police drove away, I saw traces of blood on the pavement. Several yards from the door, I saw a phone resting, forgotten, on the sidewalk.
I picked it up and recognized it immediately. It was Nikki's. I was speechless, the thoughts becoming a tangled mess inside my head.
"Sam, what is it?" Amber asked me, concern in her eyes. I showed her the phone and she gasped. A second later, Nikki's mom rushed out of the doors.
"Hey, what's going on?" I asked her. She stopped when she saw me, and I saw the look on her blotchy face. Something was definitely wrong here.
"Nikki's on her way to the hospital. I'm on my way down there. Do you want a ride up there with me?" Her voice was raspy, and I was amazed she was even able to speak at all. I nodded, and we followed her to her car, which was parked on the side of the road around the corner.
It was almost dawn. I'd spent the night in the hospital waiting room with Nikki's mom. Amber would have stayed too, but her parents came to get her around one. I couldn't even describe the thoughts running through my head, the tumult of emotions I was feeling. Guilt, fear, wonder, grief, anger... If I was in such a bad shape, I could only imagine how Mrs. Chrime felt.
A doctor came out and set down next to her, saying, "Nikki is going to be okay. She cracked her skull open and has a concussion, but there's no brain damage of any sort. The stab wound wasn't as bad as it looked. The knife struck her appendix, which appeared to be ready to burst within a month's time, but we took care of that, and you'll never have to worry about that. She has a fractured wrist, and she's pretty banged up, but she'll be alright. It was lucky that man passed by when he did, or Nikki may not have been quite so lucky," the woman explained. She was Asian, but with no hint of an accent. She had straight black hair tied back in a pony tail.
"Will we be able to see her soon?" I asked. She looked at me quizzically.
"I'm sorry, are you with the family?" the doctor asked me.
"Yes, he is," Mrs. Chrime answered quickly. I was shocked, but recovered quickly, nodding. I wasn't sure how I should feel about that.
"Yeah, you two can see her in an hour or two. She's resting right now. You should go home, get a shower, take a nap, eat something. It's hard to do right now, I know, but Nikki will appreciate it later. I'll tell her you guys were here all night waiting for her." The doctor gave us an encouraging smile, and Mrs. Chrime and I stood up.
When we were back in the car, Mrs. Chrime asked me, "Why was Nikki alone last night?" I sighed. I'd had a feeling this would come sooner or later.
"Well, Adam had to leave the dance early because his little sister was sick. Nikki stuck around for a while with me, Amber, and the others, but I guess she was tired and wanted to go home. Amber and I offered to go with her, but she said she'd be okay. She caught a cab and left, and that's as much as I know," I told her quietly.
"She never caught a cab. She walked home," she replied. I was stunned into silence. "Sam, I'm not mad at you, I promise. I just wish someone had been there to protect her, is all."
The rest of the car ride was filled with a sad silence and disbelief.