Chapter 1 Accident

"Ms. Marjorie, do you have any emergency contacts that I can help you get in touch with? Or perhaps you'd like to call them yourself?" the nurse asked, frowning. All the other patients had already gotten in touch with their respective loved ones, save for this woman sitting in front of her, who had been staring silently at her phone all this while. A shopping complex on Maple Street had caught fire as a result of an unregulated metal welding incident. A piece of molten metal ignited the insulation furnace during the routine maintenance project, which ultimately led to a terrible accident that resulted in nineteen people injured. Marjorie, who had been shopping at that time, was trapped within the building and had inhaled copious amounts of toxic gas, leading to a lung infection. Amongst the nineteen victims, Marjorie was the only one who did not have any family members around. The nurse was beginning to worry. "Ms. Selena, I'm fine. I don't need anyone to sign on my behalf." With that, Marjorie pulled the IV cannula from her hand, snatched the form out of the nurse's hand, and scrawled her signature at the bottom. "Ms. Marjorie, you can't leave yet! You still need to be under observation!" the nurse called out after her, but Marjorie ignored her entirely and instead strode out of the emergency room. The moment she stepped out the door, she caught sight of a familiar silhouette darting past. She instinctively took a step back and crashed right into Selena, the nurse who had chased after her. "I'm sorry, Ms. Selena! Are you okay?" Marjorie exclaimed, reaching out to catch hold of Selena. "I'm fine, Ms. Marjorie, but you shouldn't run in the hospital like that." Selena seemed a little irritated. Marjorie's expression had turned to a scowl. If anything, she looked in an even worse state than she did upon first arriving at the emergency room. Selena could not help noticing this and asked, "Are you alright?" "I'm fine." Marjorie let go of her. The person who had passed by was none other than her husband, Stephen. What was he doing in the hospital? If he was here, why did he ignore all of her calls? Did one of his friends get hospitalized somehow? What would be more important than his own wife? "Ms. Selena, who's the person staying in room 9?" Marjorie asked sharply. "Oh, it's a celebrity named Carolyn. Do you know her? I'm sure you must. She's world-famous and people have deemed her to be a reincarnation of the goddess Venus herself. She came in with her boyfriend. I remember seeing the two of them on the news a couple of days ago… What was his name again? Let me think…" Selena furrowed her brows in deep thought for a few minutes before finally saying, "Ah, yes! His name is Stephen. What a handsome man…" Marjorie felt as though all the air had been knocked out of her chest. She finally understood everything. "Thank you, Selena, but I'd like to rest now. Can you let me be for a few minutes?" "Of course!" Selena seemed as though she wanted to share even more. However, seeing the crestfallen look on Marjorie's face, she decided against it and instead walked away. The room fell silent. Marjorie slumped against a corner and, after some contemplation, picked up her phone to dial Stephen's number. "Hello?" his voice rang out curtly from the other end of the line. "Where are you?" Marjorie asked with an inkling of hope. "Working. What do you want? If not, you should hang up now!" Stephen's tone was cold and impatient. "Since when did you start working at St. Mary Hospital?" Marjorie was eerily calm. Stephen froze momentarily, then snapped, "Have you been following me?" Marjorie heard shuffling sounds as Stephen stepped out of room 9. He seemed to be looking for her, but he could not see her as she was crouched. Her hand hung limply by her side. How ironic. Out of everything, he was concerned about her following him. "No. I saw on the news that there was a fire, and I saw someone who looked a lot like you, so I wanted to check in." Stephen paused. Could the reporters have caught him on camera? "Don't call me during work ever again." With that, he hung up. Marjorie did not know how to feel about this. She could not even muster the strength to get up from the floor, much less leave the hospital to go home. After a long contemplation, she dialed her best friend Meredith's number. It did not take long for Meredith to arrive. She was stunned to see Marjorie with swollen, red-rimmed eyes and a crestfallen expression. "What happened, Marjorie?" Marjorie tried to remain as calm as she could. "I'm fine. I was caught in a fire and had inhaled some smoke." "Why didn't you call Stephen?" Meredith was heartbroken to see Marjorie in this state. "I did, but he's busy." Meredith was infuriated to hear this. "What could be more important than his wife? Does he even remember how you took care of him when he got injured? You were by his side every second of the day and even had to bear the brunt of his poor mental health! Where is he now that you need him?" With that, she picked up her phone, intending to call Stephen to give him a piece of her mind. Marjorie snatched the phone out of her hand. "Don't call him. I just need you to take me home!" Meredith rolled her eyes in reluctance, then helped Marjorie out of the hospital and into the car. She did not stay long after dropping Marjorie off at her place since she had to rush to an appointment. Marjorie asked her maid, Fiona, to prepare her some dinner, then went upstairs to get some rest. After her shower, Marjorie took out her phone and pulled up the news. The fire had already made headlines across town. After some scrolling, Marjorie managed to find the article that the nurse Selena was talking about. She clicked the full article with trembling fingers. The article came with a photo of Carolyn, beaming as she turned toward the cameras. The face of the man standing next to her was the one that Marjorie would never forget, not even in her sleep. The worst part was Stephen was wearing a shirt that Marjorie had bought him in this picture. Two years of marriage had turned out to be a big, fat joke. He had never loved her. Stephen had already been in love with Carolyn for a long time, but unfortunately, Carolyn's family had beef with the company with whom Stephen was one of the founders. Therefore, when Carolyn's father found out about their relationship, he pulled out all the stops and shipped her off to another country where Stephen could never find her. Not only that, but he even publicly declared his hatred toward Stephen so that everyone in town knew about their feud. Stephen was so heartbroken by Carolyn's departure that he married the first woman he could find—poor Marjorie, who had been head over heels for him for as long as she could remember. Marjorie thought that with time, Stephen would ultimately see how much she cared for him and eventually love her back, but fate had proved her wrong; his heart had been with Carolyn all along. Marjorie lay in her bed, sifting through all her shared memories with Stephen. The more she thought about it, the more upset she became. She tried to put herself to sleep, but nothing seemed to work. When Stephen returned home at 11 p.m. that night, he was a little surprised to come home to an empty house. Usually, Marjorie would be in the living room, watching television while waiting for him, but that day, she was nowhere to be found. "Welcome home, Sir. Would you like some supper?" Fiona asked tentatively. Marjorie would usually give her instructions on what to prepare for Stephen, but that night was an exception. Without any instructions, Fiona did not know what to do. When she saw the scowl on Stephen's face, she could not help but wonder if he was displeased at not having supper waiting for him. "No need," Stephen replied sternly.
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