The room darkens after I see myself with my crying mother. My body's and mom's silhouettes soon mesh into one as they quickly dissolve from my sight. As if part of a cruel practical joke, the sounds of the machines and my crying mother fade after the world has gone black. But seconds later I am plunged into a emptiness that leaves me cold and alone.
Nothing is ahead, beside, or behind me. I am completely and utterly alone.
"He-hello?" I whisper. No one responds, my voice just simply echoes off of invisible walls. "Is anyone there?"
I take a step forward, but a rumbling from the space around me stops me mid-step. The silence is deafening, only punctuated by the restless sound of my heart. Then, as if flicked on by a light switch, a screen appears in front of me. Slowly shaking my head, I walk closer to the large screen, its light penetrating through the darkness. I flinch when the screen becomes full of static, much like on the t.v. in my room.
Looking around cautiously, I cross my arms over my chest. "Who's there?" I call out, this time my voice piercing through the eerie noise of static. Almost immediately after, a picture comes on. All the static gone, the image shows a smiling girl running on the beach with two other kids. I frown. The girl smiling into the camera seems familiar.
"Why?" a voice asks calmly. It's sudden appearance brushes by me,leaving me shivering, like a cold October wind normally would. "Why?"
Then I recognize her, the girl with bright blue eyes and a sparkling smile. A child to envy, was my mom's friends' words whenever they saw me or my sister. The video plays in a loop, awkwardly rewinding when it reaches its end, only to start all over again. Then the laughter begins. It is like touching your fingers on the rim of a wine glass and sliding it over and over in a circular motion until the rhythmic noise fills your senses. The film now has a looping sound, following the girl's footsteps like an unrelenting ghost.
I hug myself tightly, unable to remove my eyes from the happy girl. She runs through the crashing waves and her little feet leave footprints in the wet sand. Her brother and sister, only younger by several minutes, race after her, yelling silent words. Every time the image loops, she stares directly at me, her eyes pleading the same question. Why?
Closing my eyes, I shake my head furiously. Life had been so easy then, during vacations and getaways. During childhood when no stress was added; where university was nothing but a faraway dream. It was before heartbreaks, betrayals--before anything that defines me today.
When I open my eyes again, the world has regained its light and colour. I am back in my hospital room, staring at my unmoving body clad in the same blue hospital gown that I am wearing now. Mom is gone and I am alone again. But the question echoes, like a haunting presence: why?