Chapter 2 pain
There was light in my room, it was softer than the blinding lights of the room I had woken up in only hours previous. I was much warmer in this bed too; I felt the covers beneath my fingers then lifted those fingers to my face. They looked so unfamiliar to me. They were long and lined, the skin on them was soft and quite tanned, the nails long and neat. I felt the top of my head again, feeling the soft long hair; it fell over my chest where I could examine it properly. It was very straight, and a strange light brown. The taste in my mouth was still there, a dull, bland taste. It was awful.
I let my thoughts stray as far as they would, never once wavering from the man I continued to see with every close of my eye lids. The brief flashes of his beautiful face whenever I blinked.
I watched the room become lighter and lighter until the sun fit in between the window ledge and the glass perfectly. Almost as soon as I noticed this my door opened slowly. I recognised the red haired doctor; he looked at me cautiously and then smiled a little smile. The sun hit his hair setting it on fire as he strode towards me. His shoulders were broad and he was taller than I remembered. He towered over me.
“How are you feeling?” he asked with a gentleness I wasn’t expecting. He looked like a gladiator. He looked down at his clip board.
I felt my repetitive concern creep through my mind. I was still so confused. I felt perfectly alright.
“Yes, I am fine. What happened? Is everything alright? I-I- I don’t remember anything.” My dark, strange fingers touched my forehead absently, I felt ready to pull the memories from my skull if necessary. That same face blurted out of my darkness. The doctor gave a deep sigh, it almost rumbled the air.
“I will have to run more tests before you may leave here, after all your body has been through some rough happenings.” His forehead creased a little. I waited, my body contradicted him. I felt no pain. “I want to confirm that you are ready before I begin to explain, it seems that I bring alarming news with me this morning. I do hope that I do not frighten you, I wish for you to believe me when I tell you that you are perfectly alright, you are healthy and unharmed” he spoke with heavy concern; his voice was gentle but direct. I believed every syllable he spoke. I nodded in my reply.
“You came to hospital two weeks ago sustaining heavy injuries” he began, I listened intently thoroughly interested, maybe that was why I couldn’t remember anything. By the doctors expression it was obvious that he was relieved for the most part that I could not remember. He was very pale, his eyes distant – remembering the night.
“We, the nurses and I, tried the best we could to save your life but you had much internal bleeding and a head wound that would -should have given you brain damage.” He shifted his weight nervously.
I took a deep breath; I knew what he was going to say next. My mind believed him and my body just wasn’t connecting the dots. I pulled my hand back to my head feeling for a sore spot. I gasped when I found it, right at the back of my head – a large gash that felt oddly heavy now that I had realised it was there.
“How does it feel?” he asked, putting the clipboard onto the side dresser. His warm hands darted up behind my head. His fingers rubbed against it and he nodded thoughtfully.
“So I died?” I said bravely. My voice sounded so strange to me. It was alien.
“13 days ago, yes” The doctor took his hands away from me and looked at me intently. “In all my years as a doctor I have never witnessed a return before” his eyes now examined me with fascination. I flinched internally from him. “My name is Doctor Rogers. I have called your grandmother, she is waiting to come and see you. Will that be alright? Are you well enough for that?”
His face turned kind again, I nodded absently.
My grandmother? I had a grandmother? What about parents, where were they? Did I have siblings?
I let the doctor leave while the questions piled up. I closed my eyes with the new pressure that they brought. The beautiful face intruded my blank mind, he would know everything. My intuition told me.
A few seconds later a woman came in. She wore black trousers and a beige jumper; she looked wealthy and well cared for. Her short hair was styled fashionable in a thick bob; it was a dark almost blonde white. She had been crying, her lined face was shiny with tears. In her arms she carried leather books, chocolates and a bunch of daisies. The flowers took my mind back to a memory that was gone before my mind could remember it clearly. There were daisies everywhere and my hand laid in someone else’s, the wind was warm and the sun was bright, but then the memory was gone. It left an ache in my heart.
“Olivia, honey?” The woman said. She left everything she brought on a chair and walked towards me. I didn’t recognise her, but my mind was fighting to remember her. She smelt familiar to me, as she got closer the air conditioning blew her lavender, powdery smelling scent in my face. It made me smile. She started to cry harder, her pain hurt me I wanted to cry with her. The elevated feeling that I had been loved and that I was remembered by someone although I did not remember myself was painful but so wonderful all at the same time. I tried to take away the fact that I didn’t feel like “Olivia” at all, who ever she was before I woke up in her body. Which was what the situation felt like, I felt odd in her body.
“You almost left me” she said her voice cracking with age and sobs. She took my hand and I took hers back. She was pretty for her age; her lined face didn’t hide her symmetrical features or the way her blue eyes sparkled. “Doctor Rogers told me that you don’t remember much” she wiped my hair from my face and bit her lip “But that’s fine, its ok. We can be forgetful together can’t we honey?” she chuckled a little, which made me copy her. She sniffed and looked me over again and again.
“I'm Olivia?” I said, pointing to myself. If she said yes, I wouldn’t believe her. The name felt foreign and odd. I was sure I said it wrong, the jumble of syllables sounded awkward as they rose from my throat.
My grandmother nodded; as I looked at her I tried to remind my eyes of her. “Yes, honey you are Olivia – Livvy for short” she smiled and pointed at my chest. She gave me a quick smile and then turned; I watched her walk towards the chair and pick up the daisies, repeating my name over and over in my head. “Daisies are your favourite flowers, when you were little I couldn’t stop you picking them...they’d be all over your bedroom floor when it was time to go to sleep and I’d get so bad at you” she laughed, her voice was so lovely. I had the strangest urge to ask her to tell me a story or to talk for no reason at all, just so I could savour the way her voice sounded to my ears.
She pulled a vase from her large leather handbag and filled it at the sink, which was in the back of my room. I had not noticed that my room led off to a bathroom. She returned with the flowers in the vase and placed them on my dresser. They were pretty flowers; the yellow centres were bright in the sunlight. “You love to draw...and to read.” She picked up the books that were on the table. She sniffed hard and I noticed that silent tears were still trickling down her cheeks. I felt a jolt when I saw her face, like I had to comfort her.
“Nanny I-I” the words exploded from my throat, I forced an expression I had no idea conveyed happiness and waited. Her name was more familiar than my own, she stopped mid step towards me. I remembered calling her “Nanny” the name flowed through my mouth with gentle ease, bringing a little bit of happiness with me. “Please don’t cry” I said, as gently as I could.
She wiped her tears immediately.
“That’s my girl.” She kissed my forehead “you’re going to be just fine, take it a step at a time...you’ll get your memory back” with her voice saying these words it was so easy to believe.
“What happened?”I asked earnestly, I wanted to say to me, but I was still trying to force myself to believe that I was attacked, not just this body. I was prepared for anything she would say. The body I was in did not feel like it was mine, although frequent short memories were beginning to burst into life behind my eyes. More and more clearly I was remembering the grandmother, the childhood and other less coherent memories of this body, Natali. Despite the memories I was revealing, my body felt unfamiliar even alien to me. I tried not to think of it, I tried to ignore it for now.
My grandmother leaned back and there was fear in her bright blue eyes. She sat on the edge of my bed and bit her lip it seemed to be a nervous habit. I waited for her to speak.
“You were...attacked” she said quietly as if she were embarrassed to say them louder. I let that sink in, considering. I continued to wait for her to tell me more. I had no idea what to say, my death was inflicted by someone else? I was shocked more than anything. “We don’t know who by, they left you. I found you hours later” she pressed her lips together and tears started to spurt from her eyes. The imperative I had to comfort her was like fire in the pit of my stomach.
“Nanny” I took her hand “I'm alright...see? I'm right here” I squeezed her hand tighter, my body had reacted before my mind had even thought of moving. I was so shocked I hardly noticed her angry expression as she looked back.
“The kids who did it, will not get away with this...once you have your memory back then we can find them and lock them up!” she spoke ferociously for the first time my memory ever recollected. I was shocked but strangely motivated by this.
I considered that I had been attacked, had I been a bad person? Did I deserve it? I didn’t feel like a bad person, I didn’t believe anyone deserved death by another’s hand.
She leaned back and handed me an old looking leather sketch book. I flipped through it taking in each image I had drawn, not remembering drawing them at all.
I thought myself a very good artist. I sketched imaginary castles, unfamiliar faces, hands that held each others, eyes that stared out of the page right back at me. I continued to flick through; reaching a face that was familiar to me. My breath caught in my throat when I recognized his beautiful features almost like a photograph on the page. I took a deep breath and pointed to it, pulling the book around to show my grandmother.
She smiled and nodded “Yes honey, that’s Ryan.”