Nadia stared into space, probably thinking about how to explain this to someone who practically has no memory to refer to. She opened her mouth, starting to say something, but instead, it snapped shut like a mouse-trap. Her lips were pursed and positioned more to the left of her face than usual. I copied her expression, trying to make fun of this serious moment. But she didn't notice me; a shiny screen of thoughts had covered her eyes, leaving them glazed.
Finally, she decided on an event to begin her explanation off of.
"Do you remember..." She paused for a moment, trying to collect her thoughts. Then the screen was lifted from before her eyes and she began a more fluent conversation:
"Do you remember when we saw the drilling warning signal in the sky?"
"And when we reached the manhole that had the big rat on it?"
Again, I nodded.
"And you kicked the rat off?"
My head repeated the motion.
"And how the meti followed us into the manhole?"
"And when they started drilling and we fell?"
"And when we couldn't move because we felt like we were glued to the ground?"
"And when pieces of the ceiling started falling?"
"And when one of the bigger pieces hit you in the head?"
This time, I shrugged.
After taking a deep breath, she continued:
"Okay. Well, about thirty or so seconds after that, the drilling stopped, and the meti and I started to move again. But you weren't moving; you were knocked unconscious. I was really scared because I wouldn't be able to carry you through the tunnel. And in either direction, the pathway was half-filled with chunks of cement that were just too heavy for me to carry."
She paused to take in a breath and then carried on with her explanation:
"And then the meti transformed from a cat to a man, or a boy. He looked about twenty years old. You saw him standing behind me, right?"
I nodded my head, remembering the fuzzy figure I had made out.
"Well, then he started opening the passage up and carried you through the tunnel. He brought you to Gage. We took off from the roof in the emergency BUFT as soon as possible, flying to East Hospital. You were carried into a room right away. They did some tests that night. Fortunately, you didn't have brain damage, but you had a bad concussion. They said that your senses might not work properly for the next few days and neither will your thoughts."
And pointing to my feet, she added. "That's why they strapped you to the bed... so that you wouldn't cause harm to yourself or others."
I tried to prop myself up on my elbows, but my left arm gave out as a result of the pain of the pressure. I couldn't balance on one elbow for long and soon collapsed. But I did catch a glimpse of metal rungs attaching my thighs and ankles to the bed. I wiggled my feet, but they weren't going anywhere. I didn't understand why they did this, so I raised my eyebrows and laughed.
But Nadia wasn't laughing, so I stopped.
Although the doctors might have been wrong about me harming myself and others, thhey were correct in saying my senses and thoughts aren't going to be working properly: I was still trying to take in what had happened while I was out. At least now, I remembered how I had hurt my shoulder.
"So, I was out for 14 hours," I restated the fact.
"How could I have been out that long, anyway?" I asked myself. "Only a second had gone by in my world."
It seemed like an illusion.
I took my mind off the subject and examined my hospital room; not anything special. It was clean, white, nothing on the floor except two suitcases and a backpack: my suitcase, my backpack.
My eyes opened wide and bulged, but somehow, my mouth stayed shut. The shutters had been lifted off my eyes, revealing the big idea I had been missing. I felt a bead of sweat start to form on my forehead, and then another, and then another... until my palms were sweaty and I was swallowing over and over, trying to unclog something that had gotten stuck in my throat. But I was left tongue-tied, anyway. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
"Rae, are you okay?" Nadia asked in concern, grabbing hold of my hand.
"Nadia," I began. "How long will I be staying here?"
She didn't answer me right away.
"Not..." she hesitated. "...long."
"Why are all my things here?"
She didn't look me in the eye, but down at her hands.
"Nadia, look at me! How long?"
She looked up and I noticed the tears welled up, walled in by a thin barrier of silence, ready to collapse. If one word emerged from her throat, she was a goner.
"It might be..." It still didn't break. "...long."
And as the last word fluttered off her lips, tears raced down her face and dripped onto the white hospital sheets off of her nose and cheeks.
"Why? You have to tell me why," I pressed on, starting to raise my voice.
"T-Two reasons," she started.
"My shoulder and what?" By this time, I was practically yelling. "You said there was no brain damage!"
"There is none!" she cried back, even angrier with me now than I was with her. "Something got knocked out of place in your head and you have to get surgery to get it either moved or replaced! Happy? I said it!"
With this, she started stomping away. I reached out to try to stop her, but realized it wasn't any use. I watched her storm as politely as she could out of the room, tears flying off her face.
Now I was lying in my clean, white, hospital room with nothing on the floor but my two suitcases and my backpack: alone. And of all other things, I felt guilty, too.