“Scoot up — I can barely fit!”
Raven turned around and addressed Harrold impatiently.
“Well, it’s only meant to seat one, you know. Do your best.”
“But my, uh, stuff needs more space,” he insisted, wincing as Raven bounced over a crack in the sidewalk.
“Gross,” Raven said, but she moved forward another inch, to the point where she almost couldn’t pedal properly.
Harrold heaved a sigh of relief, then yelped as she went over another bump.
“Geez, Ray, slow down!”
Raven didn’t acknowledge the exclamation except to pedal faster. She wasn’t in any particular hurry, but she’d show Harrold to complain about her bike-driving skills. If he felt so strongly about it, he would find the money for gas. Or beg a ride from one of the other med students heading to the hospital.
But she knew he wouldn’t — he liked her. She saw it in his blush, his fidgety eye contact, and in his nervous habit of biting his lip whenever he talked with her. (It was kind of cute, she had to admit — in a high-school way.) The fact that he subjugated himself to her, in the form of riding on the back of her one-person bike every morning, was an interesting way to show his affection, but Raven didn’t question it. She was just glad that he did that instead of doing the normal male-impressiveness routine.
Although she didn’t really like him (sorry, Harrold, but with a name like that, you shouldn’t be surprised) she was selfishly pleased to have a man(-ish) at her beck and call were she ever to need one. And he was of the personality that he’d probably still be sweet to her even if she never gave him hope of a date. He was just that kind of an all-around good person.
It was a little unsettling, if she thought about it too much, so she didn’t.
Being voraciously independent, the idea of being willing to be someone’s call girl (or boy) was unfathomable. It required far too much altruism — more, perhaps, than was actually healthy.
She wheeled into the hospital parking lot, waving at Sadie who was just locking the door of her Sedan as LeAnna, Nicole, Carolina, and Garrett scrambled to get out before she locked them in (again). Garrett started singing “A Bicycle Built For Two,” until Nicole put a hand over his mouth to stifle the off-key screeching.
“Keep your day job!” Raven shouted at him, although she and Harrold both laughed.
“How does he keep his night job with a voice like that?” Harold chuckled as they rolled up to the bike rack and dismounted.
“Either Anton is deaf or he’s not picky,” Raven replied in turn, although they both knew that Garrett had a beautiful tenor voice if he chose to use it properly. He just chose not to, most of the time.
“I can’t afford a carriage, but I can afford a marriage,” Garrett bellowed somewhere behind them, clearly having escaped Nicole’s silencing hand.
“Shut up,” Harrold shot over his shoulder.
Raven didn’t wait for the others; she pushed open the door and breathed in the familiar smell of sickness, healing, life, and death.