According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing.
Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her.
Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life—via someone else’s transplanted heart—he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again.
And now it is.
Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal—is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn.
And she’s not giving up so easily.
A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn’s fallen, and Luc’s heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn’s betting her heart, her life, that it can be.
Right down to the thousandth paper crane.
Nembutal isn’t a name I recognize. One of Luc’s medications? Something he wanted to try that he couldn’t get here? He didn’t tell me anything about it. I Google the name and get an array of results: Nembutal (pentobarbital), sedative and anticonvulsant. Used to treat tension, anxiety, nervousness, and epilepsy. Pentobarbital may induce death in high dosages and is used for euthanasia in both humans and animals.
My legs nearly give out.
The night Luc went to the hospital, I saw webpages open on his phone on euthanasia in Oregon. It hadn’t seemed right, and I hadn’t been able to wrap my head around it at the time, and so I’d shrugged it off and never even broached the subject with Luc. He could have been looking it up for any number of reasons. Curiosity brought about by temporary desperation.
This, though? This is a step further. This makes me feel cold all over.
The bathroom door swings open and Luc steps out. I hadn’t even heard the shower turn off. He’s dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, towel around his shoulders, and he
pauses when he sees me. “Evelyn?”
I could ignore it. I’m overreacting. I have to be…right? Yet I find myself turning to stare at him, holding up the business card and trying to keep my voice level. “What’s this?”
There’s a hitch in Luc’s step as he crosses the room to take it from me, and he won’t meet my eyes. “Just something someone gave me the other day. I don’t know.”
Any hope I had that this was some dumb misunderstanding is quickly fading. “Don’t lie to me.”
“It’s nothing,” Luc insists, pushing a hand back through his wet hair and turning away. “Just…don’t. I don’t want to—it’s not…”
“It’s not what? Not what I think it is?” My voice cracks near the end, and Luc goes still, as though he knows this entire conversation is about to hit the roof. I snatch my phone back up and read to him aloud: “Pentobarbital is contained in a group of drugs called barbiturates.”
“Used to treat insomnia and seizures—”
“—and for human euthanasia. Death in a bottle.” I lower the screen and stare at him, fighting back the overwhelming flood of tears threatening to reduce me to a complete mess. “Is that not what I think it is?”
Slowly, Luc turns to me, his expression one of guilt and grief and frustration. “I’m dying. You know that.”
I twist my fingers around my phone so tightly it hurts.“We’re all dying, Luc.”
“Some of us faster than others.”
Kelley York and Rowan Altwood are a wife and wife writing team living in central California with their daughter and way too many cats. Kelley is the author of Hushed, Made of Stars, and Modern Monsters, and Other Breakable Things is Rowan’s debut.