“Where am I” I thought.
“You’re in hospital” the nurse answered. She is right beside me.
Did I think that or say it?
I looked down and saw her dressing some wounds on my forearm. She kept looking up at me while she worked. The wound ached, giving the feeling of a deep wound. I am sure I won’t like what it looks like.
I am also feeling strange inside. Unsettled. Confused. Uncertain.
She keeps looking up to me, half watching her work, not entirely focused. She is smiling but it appears not real. More for her own good than mine.
Why am I even in a hospital?
The nurse smiles again, real one this time. She was done. Without fuss, she gets up and removes herself from the room. I am tired, close my eyes, then as I fall asleep I ask myself again “Why am I in hospital?”
There is a dazed feeling in my head. I am awake but not entirely aware. Like a spirit being pulled through the night.
I am taken out of bed, dressed and led down some corridors. The nurses, both male, one on each side, stop outside a door, knock, then wait for the summons to enter.
I am ushered into the room and seated near a young man. A doctor. He smiles to the nurses as a polite means to excuse them from the room, as if they need to be told that it is okay to leave.
The doctor then smiles at me. His eyes look clever, sharp, and attentive.
“How are you feeling today?” he asks
“Um, I feel a little strange actually.” I answer.
I keep thinking “Why am I here?”
I said “I am a little confused as to why I am here”
The doctor feigns relaxation, then asks “Tell me the last thing that you remember”.
I drew a blank. I could not remember what had happened.
I was with Sandra.
I said “Sandra was driving me home, I remember looking over to her. She was smiling at me” She appeared in my mind like a slow flash. She has a lovely smile. Tender and welcoming. She liked to smile, you could see it in her face.
“When did this happen?” the doctor asked.
I looked at him for a moment. Who is this person? Why was my head so fogged up and confused?
I asked him “Why am I here? I don’t remember anything”
The doctor was silent for a moment before answering. “Try to recall what happened, take your time, focus on Sandra for a while”
I leaned back in the chair, closed my eyes in an attempt to clear the dizziness from my head, but failed. But I did have some recall.
“We were driving home, we had been to a party. I had a few too many to drink. She smiled at me. She smiled. She looks happy to me. I told her to watch the road”
But she didn’t watch closely enough.
I opened my eyes again, looked directly at the doctor. “What happened?”
“You need to try to remember the events, it is important that you recall them on your own” he answered.
“Is she alright?” I asked.
“Try to remember”
I just thought “Is she alright?” It was echoing in my mind. The doctor wasn’t going to tell me, why did I need to recall this alone?
The effort was already tiring me. My eyes were heavy. I need to sleep. The doctor stood, called the nurses back, and I was escorted back to my room.
This is very strange. Where was Donna?
The room was filled with unusual people. There was a television in one corner. A table in another, a few people were sitting there, hunched over some coloring books. I scanned across the space slowly to see people talking quietly to each other. It should have looked normal but, something was not right.
My arm ached.
A man, lean, with an aged craggy face but still young, sat across the couch from me.
“Do you smoke?” he asked. He was smiling, friendly.
“No” I answered. “I feel strange all of the time”. I don’t know why I said that.
The man just smiled. “It is the meds, they make your mind cloudy, relaxing it, so you don’t stress out too much. Don’t fight it.”
Okay, I won’t fight it.
We sat there for a few minutes saying nothing. He was smiling the entire time.
He leans a little closer to me and asks “Do you smoke?”.
I looked at him and answered “No”.
I got up, looked around the room again, then decided I wanted to be alone. I returned to my room, buried my face into the pillow, then closed my eyes tight.
Sandra was still smiling at me. Driving the car, looking at me and grinning. Then the car jumped violently, smashing into something hard. I was thrown around and around like a floppy doll. Over and over, my head was spinning, my arms were flapping and crashing about.
The noise was all engulfing, resounding through my entire body, it seemed to continue for the longest time. Then silence, except for the spinning wheels above me.
My head felt like smashed potato. My eyes struggled to recover their vision. I was upside down. I lifted my head to see if Sandra was okay.
I screamed as loudly as I could. The nurses appeared, injected me with something, I relaxed, then dozed off to sleep.
I am back in the doctor’s room. He obviously isn’t a medical doctor, he is a shrink with a purpose.
He asks questions yet provides no answers.
He talks as if he is my friend, but he has an ulterior motive.
I do not trust him. Shrinks are meant to help you, not be an extraction machine.
He asks “What was behind the screams last night?”
“The car crashed.” I said. Do I tell him much else? Do I relax, stop fighting? He already knows the answer anyway.
“What happened?” he asked.
“The car crashed. It spun around several times with us in it. When it stopped, when I opened my eyes, when my head stopped spinning, I looked over to her and she was smashed to pieces. Ripped up. She was not breathing anymore.”
The doctor sat silently for a moment. Allowing time for me to keep going.
I stay with the silence. Not out of spite, not to create a contest of wills. I did not want to tell him much more because what was next upset me.
Yet he maintained his diligent quiet. I wanted to tell him. I felt it was right to share these feelings with him. With anyone. Even if he thought I was a bad person.
I said “Sandra was a happy person. She was pleasing to be around. A joy. When I saw her deadness, her distorted body, it was not her anymore.” Do I keep going?
Sandra was fun to be around. But she was not Donna. Where was Donna?
“How did that feel for you?” he asked.
“It is hard to tell. Disappointed?” I felt I should be ashamed of that feeling. I seemed to not belong.
“Disappointed with what?”
“That she was dead. I liked her.” I answered.
Then it occurred to me, through the fog in my mind, I put something together. If I had been in a car crash, why was my only injury almost healed already? Where was the head injury? I was hurt in the car. Blood was pouring into my eyes. My forearm was so badly broken that it looked like a second elbow.
I realized I was missing parts of my own story.
I wake up in bed again.
I was talking to the doctor. I am sure I was just talking to him. Now I am waking up. I started to sit up but my arms were bound to the bed. I lift myself up a little to get a closer look, as I move a large male nurse appeared. He just looked at me with dead eyes. He was a serious looking man.
“Relax. Now you are awake, we will take you to the doctor again”.
This was becoming annoying. Other than this constant internal haze and the fazing in and out, I had no idea why this man was here to escort me around.
Actually, make that two big men. They carefully unstrapped me one arm at a time, attaching the strap to themselves carefully. When I was secured to them my feet were released. We slowly and methodically stood up. The man mountain gave careful, curt instructions. Even voiced. I was under no illusion that moving out of order would be disruptive for me and annoying for them.
I want to ask why I was being controlled so carefully, but figured the answer would be absent so kept the question to myself.
My mind was still fogged up. Surely it is not all caused by medications.
As I was led down the corridor again, I had an uncomfortable notion that this was happening more than I realized. I was sure this was only my third time to the doctor, that I was unfamiliar with the directions, but I instinctively turned each corner correctly. Moved in time to the man mountains. When they stopped, I stopped as well because it felt like the right time to stop.
At the door, the invisible routine continued. Knock, pause, invite to enter.
Walk in, sit down, unstrapped one arm at a time to be connected to the chair. It is a solid chair, connected to the floor. The doctor smiles his clever smile. The men leave and it begins.
“How are you today?” he asks.
“My arm is healing. It only aches if I move it too fast. Which is not often given I am strapped to the bed”
The doctor just sat there.
I wanted to ask him a question but I already knew he would not answer. I am unhappy with this, irritated. I want to punch him in the face. I want to smash his nose so hard that it flattens and bleeds.
“You said that you liked Sandra. That you were disappointed that she had died in the car crash”
I was disappointed that she died. She was nice. I liked her smile.
“Why were you disappointed?”
Now that is an interesting question. Now I think about it, it was a disappointment was that she died in the car crash. But I was not upset about it. It was more an absence of something I wanted to do.
“She was dead. Maybe disappointed is the wrong word. Maybe sad is better. Upset. Shocked.”
“Were you feeling those things?”
No I was not. I was really disappointed. But that seemed like something to not tell the interrogator.
“I was initially shocked. She was busted up from the crash, her body was contorted. Her smile was gone. Her energy had disappeared. She was not breathing anymore.” I felt like I was lying. Yes, she was broken and dead from the crash, but it felt like I was lying about it.
I continued “Donna had a nice smile”
The doctor suddenly became more attentive. “Who is Donna?”
I was stunned, a little bit.
Who is Donna?
A mirage of a woman appeared within my mind. She was an athlete. Strong, toned, quick. Her face was beautiful, but it had a slight menace to it. Something intangibly dangerous about her look.
I was silent with the doctor, he was watching me, waiting for my new words.
I was trying to grasp the new woman in my mind. She kept dancing close to the edge of my memory, then steps back into the gloom. My arm began to throb and ache.
Who is Donna?
Inside the car my broken arm was awakening with pain. It made it difficult to release the seat belt but I did it. Landing head first onto the ground, jarring my neck and agonizing the broken arm.
I didn’t bother checking Sandra, she was absolutely and totally dead. I righted myself and tried the door. It was stuck. My mind was engulfed from the pain in my arm, the crack to my head was making it hard to focus.
I was in trouble.
Then the footsteps came. Donna’s head appeared through the windscreen.
“Are you okay?” she was looking at me with concern but I was moving and alive. She looked to Sandra, she saw her lifeless body. Disappointment filled her face as well.
I said to the doctor “Donna was disappointed as well. That Sandra was dead.”
I was struggling to understand why I was not remembering this. Was the blow to my head so bad that it messed with me, eliminating entire swathes of my life into the darkness?
But that did not seem right. I remember who I am. I am me. I enjoyed the company of Sandra. She made me laugh, when she was with me she was close to me, leaning against me, providing an inner warmth that was missing in my life.
She made me feel free, content, positive for my future.
But what was before her?
I can’t remember a time before her. It is like an abyss in my memory. As if I did not even exist.
Am I really me?
The doctor was waiting. He could see I needed time to process, to figure out the emptiness.
I said “Donna scares me. She arrived at the crash, saw Sandra was dead then glared at me like I had made a huge mistake.”
Donna was mad and screamed at me “Why did you crash the car? Surely you knew she could die?”
Before the crash, as I looked into Sandra’s eyes, providing me with joy, I heard Donna whisper into my ear.
“Unlock her seat belt”
I slipped my hand to the side of her hips, stroking her tenderly as I nudged the seatbelt undone. Being careful to hold it in place so she was not aware of the deception.
“Now get her to pull the car over. Be ready to move, to squeeze her, constrict her.”
But I did not want her to pull the car over. I was resisting the urge to continue the lie. I did not want to wrap the belt around her neck and squeeze her life away.
Sometimes releasing the belt to allow the blood to sneak through her neck, allowing the process of death to last longer. To extend the time it took. Increase the pleasure for a few minutes longer.
I wanted Sandra alive so I could feel her warmth against my skin.
The whisper “Get her to pull the car over”
I leaned inwards, closer to Sandra.
But no more lies.
I lifted my hand, grabbed the steering wheel and shoved the wheel to steer us off the road, over the edge and into the forest. The car flipped.
I looked the doctor.
“Donna is a monster.” I said. “And the monster is me”.