Slivers of light pricked my eyelids, which up until this moment seemed far too heavy to lift. As I lay against something soft at my back, thought and awareness barely registered.
The gritty feeling as I struggled to raise my eyelids scraped and burned over my eyeballs as if warning me it wasn’t a good idea. Swallowing past the sandpaper in my throat, I stopped working and lay still. Cognizance slowly came forward in the form of something weighing me down and the echo of footsteps nearby.
Adrenaline jackknifed through me, and my body arched upward with the force of my gasp. The weight of whatever held me caused severe panic to fill me, and I began to fight against it.
“No!” I screamed, flailing about, trying to escape the binds. “Let me go!”
High-pitched beeping filled my ears, and the footsteps I’d heard grew more insistent and much closer.
He was coming!
“No!” I screamed.
Strong hands grabbed my arms and pinned me down. I tried to fight back, but they were much stronger than me. Kicking my legs, I tried to free them, but even more weight came down, holding them still until I was gasping for breath and ready to beg.
“Please!” I pleaded as wetness coated my cheeks. It made me realize the grittiness under my lids was rinsed away, and my eyes sprang open.
A man was leaning over me. He had graying hair and wore some kind of white shirt. The scream that ripped right out of me scared us both.
More hands and voices came out of nowhere, and I thrashed around again.
“Miss!” the man yelled. “Miss, calm down.”
“Get away from me!” I screamed again.
“Miss!” another voice yelled, a woman this time. Turning in her direction, I saw a pair of kind brown eyes staring at me. “We aren’t trying to hurt you.”
I calmed some, but the thundering of my heart made me feel as if I might spiral out of control. “You aren’t?”
“No.” The woman, who was also dressed in white, spoke. “You’re at a hospital. You were in an accident.”
“W-what?” I stammered, collapsing back against the bed, no longer straining against the binds.
“You’re at a hospital.”
“You’re trying to hold me down!” I accused.
“We don’t want you to hurt yourself.” the woman explained. The hands, even the man’s, remained.
“I don’t like it,” I admitted, recoiling.
The man straightened, stepping back. The nurse was slower to withdraw, but she did so after a few seconds.
“My legs,” I rasped. Suddenly, my throat hurt.
“It’s just the blankets.”
A quick glance down proved I was covered with blankets. Between suspicious glances at the people crowding my room (there were four), I gazed around, concluding I was in fact in a hospital.
“I don’t understand,” I admitted, all my weight pressing into the bed.
“It’s okay,” the man replied. He was a doctor, with a name badge and a stethoscope. “It’s completely normal and expected to be confused after the ordeal you’ve been through.”
“What ordeal?” I asked instantly, anxiety pressing in on my ribcage.
“We were hoping you could tell us,” the doctor said.
“What?” My brows furrowed.
The nurse leaned close, over the side of the bed. I noticed the railings were pulled up on each side. It made me feel as if I were in jail. Instantly, I hated it and began shoving at the bars, trying to push them down.
“Okay, hang on,” the nurse said and put the rails down. Once it was done, she pinned me with an insistent stare. “You have to stay still. You can’t thrash around. You’ll rip out your IV and reinjure yourself.”
“What happened to me?” I asked for what felt like the fifteenth time. I looked around at the four people in the room, hoping one of them would just spit it out.
The doctor motioned to two of the nurses and then quietly left the room.
I glanced back at the nurse. “Can you tell us your name?” she asked.
“My name?” I nodded once, then opened my mouth… only nothing came out.
Anxiety spiked in me again; I started to become agitated. “I… don’t know.”
“Calm down.” The nurse reminded me.
How dare she tell me to calm down? I couldn’t even remember my name.
Oh my God, I didn’t know my own name!
“I don’t remember!” I gasped, jerking up into a sitting position. “Why can’t I remember?”
Before I could fling the covers off and jump out of bed, the doctor was there, pinning me back down. “If you don’t calm down, we’ll have to sedate you. I don’t want to do that. You’ve been out long enough.”
I stilled. “How long?”
“A while.” The nurse hedged.
I ignored her. She was terrible with questions. “How long?” I demanded.
“A little over two months,” the doctor replied.
I gasped. “What’s my name?” I yelled.
I’d been here for two months and they were asking for my name? Shouldn’t they know it?
The doctor wasn’t looking at me; he was looking at the nurse, giving her a curt nod. She rushed out of the room.
“No!” I shouted. “No drugs! Please! Tell me my name. I just want to know my name.”
“You need to calm down. You’ve had a great deal of trauma, miss.”
I dropped back against the pillow, boneless. He called me miss. “You don’t know my name, do you?” I asked, meek.
Sensing all my energy was drained away, he moved back. A frown pulled at his lips. “You were brought in with no identification.” He began.
Fear unlike anything I’d ever felt wrapped around my heart and squeezed. I searched every corner of my mind for something. Anything.
There was nothing.
“I don’t remember…” I whispered.
The doctor seemed to soften. “I know this must be very scary, to wake up and be so disoriented.”
I laughed, but it wasn’t a humorous sound. I wished I were disoriented right then.
“You’ve been through a lot. Give it a few days. Now that you’re awake, your mind will catch up and you will remember.”
“I will?” I asked.
“There’s a good chance.”
Disappointment speared me. “If I don’t?”
“Let’s take it one day at a time.” He placated me.
“Easy for you to say. You know your name.”
A ghost of a smile appeared on his face. “Time.” He reminded me.
The nurse came through the door, holding a syringe, and I cringed away.
“I don’t think we’re going to need that,” the doctor told her.
I let out an audible sigh.
He glanced around again. “Now that you’re awake, I’ll get you down for testing.”
“What kind of testing?” I asked.
“Routine stuff for someone who’s been in a coma.”
Nothing about this was routine. I was in coma… for two months. And I didn’t even know my name.
When both the nurse and doctor were gone and I was alone, my eyes overflowed with tears and a formidable feeling of dread crowded inside me. The doctor said there was “a good chance” I would remember my name very soon.
The problem was it wasn’t just my name I needed to remember…
It was everything.