Waking Up: On The Third Day – Part 2
Check Out Waking Up: The First Day – Part 1.
Devoid of perception, I am falling. I am aware of nothingness. Neither asleep nor awake, the existence of time suggests I’m alive.
A crooning infiltrates my perception. “My son is back.” A tachycardia alarm shakes me as nausea changes gravity’s directions in the nightmare half-sleep. Swirling, tossing darkness stretches between seconds and eternity. Then, a cold radiance penetrates my eyes, and a bluish glow consumes my sleep.
“Good Morning, Michael.” The little bird nurse sings.
In my ventral striatum, a neural network springs alive as an expanding warmth rises in my chest at the sound of her voice. Elsewhere in my hippocampus, a neuron attempts to fire, but the signal fizzles out. What is her name? A hollowness opens under my ribs as I open my eyes. Who’s Michael? I wake from a dreamless sleep mixed with medical interventions to the blue glow of daytime hospital lights.
She swings her arms to propel the heavy drape over the window. The curtain hooks scrap against the metal rod, and the warm light pours over my face. I squint before opening my eyes to the room. The persistent beeps keep rhythm as my chest rises and falls, while other sound patterns blend into a momentary hallucination of the orchestra pit warming up. It ends when my southpaw twitches.
“Mo’ oh,” I try to say morning. My mouth and throat won’t cooperate. The nurse grins, spinning toward me with childlike glee.
“It’s so nice of you to say ‘morning’!” She sits in the chair beside me, putting a hand on my wrist. My vein thumps against her fingers while attempts to lift the corner of my mouth exhaust me. I look at her badge, but the letters mix and shift. Nothing makes sense. “Today is a big day. You can breathe on your own, and your vitals look great, so we’re moving you to Step-Down.” Her green eyes sparkle. I can focus and make contact. She holds my right hand with her left as she sits in the chair by the window. “Before you go, they need to come to do an assessment. It’s going to be exhausting.” She went to leave the room, pausing at the door. “I’ll check in again soon.”
Without a clock, there is no time beyond the pendulum of nurses drifting in and out. Do I not recognize clocks? The little bird nurse flies in and out of the room every couple of hours, bringing life. The other nurses don’t even bother to knock. At first, I counted each time they entered and exited that door. Fed up, “Aaaaaaaah,” drones out of me while the tantrum rumbles through my body. They treat me like a potato! Potatoes still have eyes! I have ears!
My spark of indignation extinguishes as quickly as it ignites—the nurses filter in and out of the room. To do the assessment, the nursing assistants fold up the head of the bed, then lift the sheet under me and fold me up at the hip. That’s when I see it. Above the sink, I see someone covered in tubes and wires with short dark hair. Two bruised eye sockets lock with my own. Transported to the memory of a fast-approaching object in the wet road, I scream.
Who is that?