BYSTANDER The heat is like gaffer tape: it sticks to your skin. You sit on the tram, wiping the sweat from your forehead. You're meeting a friend in town for coffee. Maybe a beer would be a better idea. The old lady sitting opposite you suddenly makes a weird noise, like a bird sighing. [[Pretend you didn't hear.|Pretend not to notice]] [[Ask her if she's okay.|Ask her if she's okay]]You stare out the window, pretending you've just seen something very, very interesting. You can see the old lady out of the corner of your eye. She's wearing a cardigan, even though it's easily 35 degrees outside. She must be mad. You were right to ignore her. Suddenly, her eyes flutter and she slumps forward. Her head lands in your lap. [[Keep ignoring her. Keep ignoring her.|Keep ignoring her. Keep ignoring her.]] [[Maybe see if she's okay or something?|Maybe see if she's okay or something?]]You stare furiously out the window. The old woman's head is limp in your lap. Is she dead? You've never had anyone die on you before. The other passengers are staring at you. The tram stops suddenly. The old woman falls to the floor. Someone else checks her pulse. Someone else calls the ambulance. You keep staring out the window. If you stare hard enough, maybe you won't feel guitly. You meet your friend in town for coffee. She notices how silent you are. "Are you okay?" she asks. You shrug. "It's just hot." END"Are you okay?" you ask the old woman. Her eyelids flutter. She slumps bonelessly into your lap. The other tram passengers stare in horror. That would be no, then. You wonder what you should do. You've never had old ladies pass out on you before. [[Pretend this isn't happening.|Pretend this isn't happening]] [[Call an ambulance.|Call an ambulance]]"Are you okay?" you ask the unconcious head in your lap. The old lady doesn't answer. She's unconcious. You feel stupid for even asking the question. You look around at your fellow tram passengers. They're all studiously ignoring you. "Um," you say. "Help?" Eventually, someone looks at you. Eventually, someone calls an ambulance. You feel guilty and useless as the paramedics wheel the old lady away. And you're late for your coffee date in town. "Are you alright?" asks your friend. "You look a bit frazzled." You shrug. You don't know if the old lady is okay. You don't know if she's alive. You wonder what her name was. "Weird day," you answer. Your order a latté. The barista draws a kitten on your foam. ENDIf you close your eyes, you can pretend you are asleep. If you pretend you are asleep, you can pretend that you didn't notice an old lady just passed out and fell into your lap. You close your eyes. The old lady's head is hot and damp in your lap. This is ridiculous. You can feel everyone on the tram staring at you. You pretend to wake up. You pretend to just notice the old lady unconcious on your knees. "Should we call an ambulance?" you ask a passenger. He looks at you like you're mad. "Tell the driver," says another passenger. She hurries down the tram. The tram stops. It's a long wait for the ambulance. The other passenger helps the old lady sit upright. When the paramedics finally arrive, they bundle the old lady onto a trolley and stick an intravenous drip in her arm. They ignore you completely. It's a long time before the tram starts moving again. You'll be late for your coffee date. The thought of coffee makes your throat burn like acid. ENDYes. Call an ambulance. You should definately call an ambulance. You try to pull your phone out of your pocket. The old lady's head is in the way. "Can you help?" you ask another passenger. She blinks. Nods. Tells the tram driver. The tram stops. An ambulance is on its way. You and the other passenger help the old lady back upright. She mutters, hovering between conciousness and unconciousness. You use some water from your water bottle to cool her forehead. She recovers enough to drink. The paramedics still take her to hospital, though, after they arrive. Better to be safe, one of them says as she eases the old lady onto the trolley. The paramedic nods to you as they leave. Did you help that old lady? Did you maybe even save her life? You don't know. You'll never know. You'll never see that lady again. The tram starts moving. You check the time on your phone. You're late for your coffee date. You send a message to your friend. END