after she pulls the leash from his hand in pursuit of a rabbit
that happens to jump out of a bush as they pass by it.
Eric chases after Nova but this only inspires her to run faster,
until she completely eludes Eric's vision
continuing on her pursuit of the rabbit, that has, by now,
hidden somewhere in the other direction.
After a great deal of time passes, it becomes clear that Nova
has outrun her sense of orientation and is now lost.
Eric spends the rest of the day and the days following
searching for Nova. He notifies neighbors,
enlists friends and family to help,
puts up signs, and so on.
A week goes by, Nova is still missing.
Eric is devastated beyond comprehension.
He thinks about how horribly unlucky it was that the rabbit jumped out at just the wrong time and that his hand position was just in the wrong place to allow Nova to pull the leash from him.
About another week later, a woman shows up at Eric's front door, she has Nova.
After Nova and Eric reconnect in a chaotic, heart-warming display of affection, Eric thanks the woman.
She introduces herself and tells Eric her name is Vanessa.
She's beautiful, and about Eric's same age.
Eric and Vanessa talk for a little while and seem to hit it off.
In the following weeks they hang out several times and things go so well, they soon begin dating.
Eric finds her to be absolutely gorgeous, kind, funny, smart, spontaneous—all the right buzzwords for a perfect romantic partner in a story.
Soon, Eric and Vanessa fall in love, the relationship is everything one could reasonably hope a relationship to be.
Eric thinks about how lucky it was that Vanessa was the person who happened to be in the right place at the right time to find and return Nova.
A couple months go by, Eric is driving on his way to pick up Vanessa.
While driving through an intersection, Eric is T-boned at full speed by a driver who distractedly runs a red light coming from the perpendicular side street.
Eric is knocked unconscious as he and his car are sent in a thrashing 1080° spin.
An hour or so later, Eric finds himself in a hospital.
A doctor informs Eric of what has happened, and explains that he has suffered a severe head injury, and that they will need to run some immediate tests as well as a brain scan to determine the severity, and if there's any chance of permanent brain damage or internal bleeding.
As his consciousness begins to more clearly return to him, Erick thinks about how unlucky he was to have been going to get Vanessa in the exact direction at that exact time.
He's furious at the possibility that his life could be ruined by this one, random happenstance.
Eric is held overnight at the hospital.
The next day, the doctor comes into Eric's room.
"Eric, how we doing," the doctor asks.
"Fine. A little fuzzy I guess," Eric replies.
"Yeah, I would certainly imagine. You took quite the smack," the doctor says.
"Yeah," Eric responds.
"So, I've reviewed the CT scan, and I have some bad news, and I also have some good news."
Confused, Eric says: "OK, uhm, I guess I'll take the bad news first."
"Well, technically they're sort of the same piece of news," says the doctor.
"What do you mean?" Eric asks with an escalating level of concern and confusion.
"The bad news is, we found what appears to be a glioma in your brain." The doctor pauses for a moment, and Eric looks at him unaware of what this means.
"It's a tumor," the doctor goes on to say, "The good news, though, is we found what appears to be a glioma in your brain."
"What do you mean? How's that good news?" Eric asks.
"This tumor has nothing to do with your accident. You actually got out of the accident relatively unharmed, but because of your accident, we ran the brain scan; because of the brain scan, we found the tumor.
Normally we only catch a tumor like this after someone realizes something's wrong when they start to feel the symptoms, which is almost always too late.
"Because we found the tumor right now, though, we caught it while it's still benign before it became malignant and grew into any other areas of your brain, which in almost all cases becomes fatal."
"Since it's still in this stage, though, we should be able to remove it almost entirely without any issue. Eric, in a weird way, this car accident basically saved your life. So I guess, you know, sort of good news disguised as bad news," the doctor concludes.
Eric starts to feel a weird, visceral tingling sensation and becomes slightly disoriented.
Maybe it's the head injury. Maybe it's the emotion of the situation. Maybe it's the fact that the doctor just essentially said the same thing twice, but Eric experienced two totally different mental responses.
Maybe it's everything. Regardless, Eric looks around at the room.
He thinks about how lucky he was to have been going to get Vanessa in the exact direction at that exact time.
He thinks about how lucky he was to have gotten in a car accident.
He thinks about how weird it is to think this. For something so bad to be so good, and for something so good to be so bad.
In this moment, Eric realizes how little he knows about what anything actually is.
That he has never and can never know what exists on the other side of anything that happens to him or because of him, no matter how good or bad, lucky or unlucky any of it might seem.
Eric feels a strange, paradoxical sense of helplessness and liberation.
About a week later, Eric undergoes brain surgery to remove the tumor.
The surgery is successful.
Eric is mostly as good as new, with exception of a scar running down the side of his scalp.
Several days later, after being released from the hospital, Eric is at home with Vanessa, recovering.
To get some fresh air, he takes Nova out for a walk.