After a while the house went silent, the other three, I presumed, were downstairs. I rose slowly and carefully, confused at myself and everything I saw and felt. But I couldn't remember anything. It was as if I'd been transferred into a different body, a different person, somehow. But I knew I was me, myself, so to speak. I knew as soon as I saw the picture.
I explored the room gradually, handling ornaments and experimenting with light switches and other things. My mind, working better again, had little difficulty in naming things this time, and I said every word, every thought, out loud, training my tongue to form sounds again.
The picture was on the window sill behind the big white curtain, slightly faded from the sunlight. I recognised it as soon as I saw it.
There were six people in the photo, and five dogs, and four cats, posed as a family in front of a pretty stone cottage. Five of the people were female, one of them me. Or was it me?
The eldest people were a slim woman with red bobbed hair, and a broad-shouldered man with blonde hair. In front was a small girl of around five also with red hair. And in front of her three girls of perhaps ten kneeled on the floor, a kitten in each of their laps. They were obviously triplets, all with blonde hair and blue eyes. The one on the left wore pink, and her hair was long and curling. Her cat was a white pussy. The one on the right wore blue, and her hair was short and her eyes hardy. Her cat was a ginger tom. The one in the middle wore green, and jeans, and her hair was in plaits. She looked the most serious of the three despite her smile, and in her lap sat a solemn black kitten.
Midnight. Me and Midnight. Oh, gracious! It was me! Midnight had been everything to me. I took her everywhere, on holiday, to school, to tennis club. She was my best friend. She always listened, and understood, even though she could nto reply. But she's look up with those trusting green eyes and vibrate with her purring, often perching on the arm of the sofa opposite me and watch fascinated as I practised my guitar.
I bit my lip, and realised that I had tears in my eyes. I had children now, that was evident. How could it be that Midnight was still on earth, she who had been given to me on mine and my sisters' fifth birthday, perhaps twenty-five or more years ago? How awful, that I couldn't actually recall Midnight dying, either. How terrible of me. I must ask the dark man about Midnight. Surely he'd know.
I didn't remember the dark man's name at all. Had I ever known it? I recognised him. A long-unseen version of him, at any rate.
And what of my three sisters? Lizzie, the elder triplet, Minnie, the younger triplet, and Cherry, the baby. And Mum and Dad. Where were they now? And what has been wrong with me these past years? Have I then skipped fifteen years of my life, fast-forwarded to another age? Or was it that I had a terrible illness that made me forget? Have I had a knock? Yeah, a knock that took away my memory for fifteen years, or however long it went back. How old was I now?
I shuffled over to the wall mirror, looking myself up and down. I was about average height, slightly stouter than I remembered being, but very little so. My hair was still blonde, but it reached a little past my shoulders, straight and nondescript. My eyes were a sparkling blue, perhaps my best feature. Apart from the nose. I thought my nose was perfect, as I stood there in front of the mirror.
Suddenly there were footsteps outside the room. I had been so enraptured in getting to know myself that my ears hadn't been switched on. I must train my senses not to switch off.