Here is the revised chapter 2! I had to rework it to weave in a crucial plot element––it's been used before, but hopefully not in this way (that is, I hope I'm not copying anyone else) and I hope I'll be able to make it work. Enjoy!

Penny watched the two paramedics lift Billy onto a stretcher and get him into the ambulance waiting outside the town hall. As they began to close the doors behind them, one of the men saw her standing there, and reached out his hand to her; without a moment's hesitation, Penny took his hand and climbed into the ambulance. "You related?" the paramedic asked, nodding his head toward Billy. "Not really," said Penny, wondering how to explain her odd relationship to the injured man, "I'm…his friend."

As the ambulance sped down the street, she edged closer to Billy, trying to be near him while staying out of the paramedics' way, and rested her hand lightly on his shoulder. What were you doing? she wondered silently. When the madman dressed in white with a huge gun in his hands had first appeared, she had been terrified. But at the same time, something about him seemed oddly familiar––that look of panicked helplessness when Captain Hammer had him pinned to the floor. It was that same expression she had seen in the blue-gray eyes of her laundry buddy, that made her heart ache for this lost and broken man. What had come over him? She never would have expected that shy, thoughtful Billy would attempt something so…horrible. And something told her that he did not really know why he was doing it either.

The ambulance pulled to a stop outside the emergency entrance of the hospital. The two paramedics rushed inside; Penny hurried after them, still wanting to stay close to Billy and make sure he was all right. Once they got inside, a group of people in pale blue scrubs surrounded them. "Billy Harris again?!" she heard one of the doctors exclaim, "Geez, what does this guy do for a living?" Penny felt a hand on her arm, gently but firmly drawing her away. "I'm sorry, Miss," said the nurse, "but I'm going to have to ask you to wait here." Penny watched helplessly as Billy was whisked away down a long hallway. She crumpled into a chair, her head in her hands. Now that she had nothing to do but wait, the tears she had been holding back began to flow down her cheeks. Oh please, God, she thought, please let him be okay.

A bright white light behind his eyelids pulled Billy back into consciousness. He blinked a couple of times, finding it hard to adjust to the light after so much darkness.

"Billy?" He tried to turn his head in the direction of the voice, and a burst of pain shot through his skull. He drew in a breath, and felt a sharp pain in his side. It seemed like everything hurt. Everything except for the light, gentle touch of a hand on his arm. "Billy, are you awake?" the soft, familiar voice asked.

"Penny?" Billy opened his eyes. White, blank walls; white sheets; metal rail on the bed: he was in the hospital. Again. And there was Penny, looking down at him. "Y-you…" Billy stammered, "Here…how…?"

"Shh," Penny chided, "Don't move. You were in surgery for over an hour. But you're gonna be fine." She gave his hand a reassuring squeeze.

"What…what happened?"

"You were hurt pretty bad," said Penny, "Don't you remember?"

Billy stared blankly at her and slowly shook his head, grimacing in pain at the movement.


"The doctor did say you had a concussion…" Penny mused. "But you remember who I am?"

"Penny…" Billy said, "Laundry. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Homeless shelter. Signatures…and, um…oh yeah, frozen yogurt!"

Penny nodded, holding back a giggle at his scattered recollections of her. "That's me," she said, "Now, do you know who you are?"

"Billy Harris." Penny tilted her head to one side. "Anything else?"

"Uh, William James Harris, I guess, if you want to be all formal, but, you know, nobody ever calls me that…ever."

"What's your job?"

"I don't…have one. Yet. And right now it looks like I'm not going to be doing much of anything for a while." Billy's eye twitched involuntarily; Penny was still staring at him, as if she expected him to say something more.

"What?" he finally asked.

"Is there anything else you want to tell me?" said Penny. Billy blinked nervously. He could feel a slight blush slowly creeping up his cheeks. Should I tell her she's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen? Should I tell her I love her?

"I just wanted to say…thanks. For––for staying with me, and, um, helping me, and…yeah. Thank you."

Penny smiled. "You've been through a lot," she said, "I should let you rest." She got up and smoothed the covers where she had been sitting. "I'll come back and visit."


"I promise. I'll see you later, Billy buddy."

"Yeah. I'll be waiting––you know––here…" Billy's voice trailed off. He wasn't ready to say goodbye, but sheer exhaustion was starting to take over. He watched Penny go with a faint trace of a smile on his face. If only he could figure out what she wanted him to remember…