I was rising from a murky depth. I could sense a light above me. I tried to get my arms to work, but something was holding them down. I was drowning.
There were noises all around me. Most were high and electronic. In the background was a rhythmic rushing of air. A frantic rattle of metal on metal caught my attention. It took me a minute to connect the sound with my own futile attempts to use my arms.
Something was jammed down my throat, choking me. I struggled to reach for it, but my arms were bound. My eyes opened a crack and light flooded them. I closed them again.
The rhythmic rush of air forced its way down my throat. I struggled against it. I was lying, restrained to a bed and drowning on air.
I got one hand free and made a swipe towards my mouth. A long plastic tube came out in my hands and I took a grateful shuddering breath. A new noise assaulted my ears, a high pitched squeal.
“She’s extubated herself,” a female voice called out. The sound of feet came towards me. The bed jerked and the squeal stopped.
“Is she breathing on her own?” a new voice, also female, asked.
A hand caught mine and held it down.
“Tina? Tina, can you hear me?” the first woman was saying. I wondered who Tina was, how she was connected to any of this.
I tried to open my eyes again. The light pierced it, causing my head to throb. I slammed them shut again.
I could sense another body on the far side of the bed. A cold disk was laid on my chest, held in place by another hand. “Good breath sounds,” the second woman said.
“Tina? Tina?” the first woman continued to say. Her free hand grabbed my shoulder and I realized with a start that she was talking to me. But I wasn’t Tina, was I?
I froze as the realization swept over me. Who was I? I had no clue. My mind was a blank slate. I couldn’t remember my name, where I was, anything.
I opened my eyes slowly this time. A nurse was looking down on me. She had reddish brown hair and a weathered face. I guessed she had seen well more than forty years, and those years had been rough. She gave me a calculated look.
“I think she’s coming around,” she said, looking at the other nurse. The other nurse was younger and blond. Her hair was long and held up in a ponytail. He face was long too, her expression serious.
There was a tightness around my arm. The stethoscope was now wedged in my elbow, just below the tightness. I tried to wriggle in that direction but the first nurse was still holding my free hand and the other was still held down to the bed.
“It’s okay, Tina,” the first nurse told me. “Anne is just taking your blood pressure.”
“She seems to be doing okay,” Anne said as the cuff deflated. She quickly removed it and then uncuffed my hand.
A light was flashed in my eyes, causing me to wince. The older nurse, Anne called her Jane, led me through a pointless series of exercises. I squeezed her fingers, pushed my toes against her hand and blinked on command. Then she said, “tell me your full name, Tina.”
I just stared at her.
“I, uh, I can’t remember,” I stammered. The nurses exchanged a look. I had the feeling they didn’t believe me.
“Where are you, right now?” Jane asked next.
I looked around the room. “A hospital.” That much was obvious.
I thought, trying to remember the names of the hospitals in town. I couldn’t even get as far as the name of the town. It was all blank. I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“What time is it?” Jane asked.
The clock said eight thirty. Light shone in the window. “Eight thirty in the morning. What happened?” I asked. “Why can’t I remember anything?”
“It’s a miracle you even lived,” Anne said. “You don’t remember anything?”
I shook my head.
“You don’t remember taking the overdose?” Jane asked.
I just shook my head again.
“You just try to rest now,” Anne said. “We will let the doctor know you are awake.”
Try to rest? I have no idea where I am, who I am or how I got here. How was I supposed to rest? I shook my head, trying to clear it. Nothing. I was a blank slate.
Shortly after the nurses left, another figure entered the room. He, I say he because the figure was flat chested even though the face was strikingly feminine, wasn’t dressed like a medical person. I tried to sit up but weariness was overtaking me. I fell back. I tried to focus on the figure, tried to form a clear picture of what he was wearing. I couldn’t.
“What happened?” I whispered.
“You got what you wanted,” the man answered in a low voice.
I gave a dry laugh. “I can’t even remember what that was,” I said.
“A second chance,” he answered.