Waking Up: Identity – Part 7
Chaos and cacophony.
“Dee? Are you okay?” Eddie’s voice penetrates the solipsism. “Dee!”
My eyes flicker open to Eddie holding the detached call bell in his left hand, his mouth gaping and face pale. His chest rises and falls through his scrubs.
“I’m alive,” I fumble.
“Who did this? The night nurse swore she never came in here.” Eddie’s voice trembles.
“Mother,” I force from the quicksand of sleep. Eddie drops the call bell to the floor and rushes to my side. He locks my eyes before scanning the rest of me, touching my shoulders for the first time without asking.
“Your face is bruised.” His face tenses and jaw clenches. His shoulders round forward as he reaches into his pocket and takes out a cell phone. “I need to take a picture of your face I’m going to delete. Is that okay?”
“Who is it for?” I stare up at him, the intensity of his expression focuses on a pocket of air.
Eddie shakes his head, looking back to me then to his phone’s screen. “I’m getting Sophia here… We need to find your wife.”
Ecstatic bubbles fill me when the little bird nurse rushes into my room an hour later in her casual clothes. “Dee? Or is it Deidre?” She drops her bag down and plops herself into the chair next to the bed. “Eddie told me everything.” A new connection forms as I too could be a bird. Sophia.
“Deidre or Dee.” The corners of my mouth lift, but her smile fades as she looks at my face.
“She did this to you?” Her doe eyes widen and water, but her face reddens and tightens. The corners of her mouth turn downward and her fists clench. “Wretched bitch.” With a sharp inhale she turns and grabs a laptop from her bag. “We need to find out who you are and find your wife’s contact information unless you remember it.”
“I…” A pit opens in my chest and stomach as I follow bright white walls into the room with stainless steel and leather furniture. A floor to ceiling window overlooks an ocean with a white grand piano atop a wooden acoustic platform in a corner. Then, Madison sits at a drafting table in her tension cable lofted office with floating spiral stairs. My eyes open. “What did my mother tell you about me?”
Sophia twists her mouth into ambiguity. “She claimed you were some famous composer and maestro, but I could never find a Michael Williams.”
Like a spark to kindling, the orchestra pit of my mind crescendos to life. “Search Deidre Williams or the letter ‘D’ Williams.” My muscles tense and the adrenaline rushes into my veins. I know who I am.
Sophia’s face softens and the corners of her mouth turn upward into a gentle expression as she turns the laptop to face me. On the screen shines a newspaper article with a picture of the back of an average-sized woman in a charcoal skirt suit with long brown hair conducting “Escape From Plato’s Cave” by Stephen Melillo. “Is this you?”
The burning sensations creep into my nostrils as my eyes blur and my chest fills with warmth. A flute solo from the second movement plays through my mind as tears stream down my face, its haunting tones delivering the message from the man to my darkness. Turning my head from the screen to Sophia, her jaw slacks and eyes seek. Her facial expression vanishes through tears.
The shaking and tears spasm through me as I feel a hand reach over my own. Sophia smiles now, showing me her screen again. “Is your wife’s name Madison?” And there, her red ringlets cascading over her shoulders in an interview. “She’s looking for you – it looks like there’s a phone number.” Sophia pauses, biting her lip and looking into my eyes. “Eddie is meeting with other staff. You’re safe now.” She inhales with me. “She can’t hurt you again.”
A face stares back from the mirror above the sink with shaggy brown hair draping across unkempt androgyny. Sophia speaks into her phone, “Hi there, my name is Sophia – I’m a nurse at Davis Memorial Hospital. I’m calling for Madison Williams. Please give me a call back…” As she rambles off a number I reach a hand up and touch the purple-green bruise painted across my cheek.
The memory of the first time I “play” with make-up springs to life. Madison holds me while we lay on her dorm room bed after I return from visiting my parents. I tell her I am ugly. She tells me I am wrong. She kisses my forehead and caresses her hands down the lengths of my arms. “Let me show you,” she sighs and pulls a sea foam and purple Caboodle from under her bed. I remind her that she’s an ogre’s mermaid. She insists I shut up as it clicks open. “Why do you think you’re ugly?” She teases my hair into a twist, then applies various things to my face while I tell her everything I think. She won’t let me look. I run out of reasons, but she smiles at me handing me a mirror, “You’re so beautiful.”
Glancing in the mirror, I twist my face in confusion, “I look the same.”
“I know.” Her laugh echoes in my mind.
“Madison is calling me back!” Sophia jumps and the hospital bed is beneath me again. “Hello?” Her chest rises and falls as she paces the room. “Yes, this is Sophia. Deidre is here. Please, speak to her.” A phone lands in my hand as two eyes stare deep into my own. “Dee, it’s Madison.”
I exist four inches above my own body. The room spins as a heart, my heart, beats accelerando. I am at the end of the aisle as the processional starts and the most beautiful woman in the world is on the other end of this phone call. Lifting the phone to my ear, a tear rolls down my face as I choke. “Hell-hello?”
“Dee,” my tigress purrs relief across the airwaves. “It’s going to be okay. I love you.” My eyes close as I soak in her voice, distorted by the cellular network and phone speaker.
“It is now, Maddie.” Filling my lungs through my nose, I exhale through my mouth and cradle the phone, pulling my knees to my chest. “When can you get here?”
“Soon. Can you hand the phone back to the nurse so I can talk to her, Sweetie?” My tigress chokes on her question. “I promise I’ll be there soon.”
“Okay. I love you, Maddie.” I picture her face – her soft rose lips shaping each word.
“I love you…” I cut Madison off and hand the phone back to Sophia, my chest imploding as my wife’s voice fades further away.
I stare out the window at the fields beyond the parking lot as Sophia ties up their conversation. A force gnaws at my insides, injecting whispers of anxiety.
It’s never this easy.