Jenna tried to open her eyes, but they refused to work. The pain in her head and face was excruciating. She was thirsty, but she couldn’t feel her tongue. People were talking, but they sounded muffled like they were in another room. She began to panic when she tried to move her arms and found that she was bound to the bed where she was laying.
“She’s coming around,” someone said.
A hand moved over hers slowly. “It’s okay, Jenna. You’re safe,” a man said.
Jenna tried to pull her hand away from the man’s and started fighting against her restraints. Within seconds a hot sensation went into her arm. Her body went limp and her consciousness faded.
* * *
Light. Jenna could sense the light. Her right eye was able to open just a crack. She was in a white room, and it was daylight. How long had she been unconscious? Her brain felt like a ship slowly moving through the fog in murky waters. She couldn’t remember anything. All she knew was that she was awake. She tried to move her hand to her face, but it was bound to the bed. She remembered waking up before and freaking out when she realized she was tied to a bed. A man had been there. He touched her hand and told her she was safe. If she was safe, why was she tied to the bed?
She lay there and tried to open both eyes, but the left eyelid would not move. It was like she had no muscles in it. There was a dull pain that ran all through the left side of her face and up into her head. Her right eye was able to open a little wider. She could see a window to the right and a white curtain on a metal rail to her left. She was in a hospital.
Her legs were bound to the bed as well as her hands. Her bladder suddenly emptied, and she panicked, thinking she’d peed on the bed, but then she felt the catheter. She was naked in a thin hospital gown. Slowly her thoughts started to clear, but she couldn’t remember how she’d gotten here, or why she couldn’t open her left eye.
“Good morning,” a woman said.
The nurse came into the view of Jenna’s right eye. She opened her mouth to speak, but her jaw wouldn’t move, and only a gurgle came out.
“I bet you are super thirsty,” the nurse said. She took a small syringe like someone would use to give a small child medicine and filled it with water. “I’m going to squirt some water in your mouth. Try to swallow it slowly.”
The water was cold, and Jenna was having a hard time moving her tongue to slow the water down. She choked as it rushed into her throat.
The nurse frowned. “Let’s try sitting you up a little higher. I’m going to raise the bed, but if you feel pain, or get uncomfortable, let me know.”
Jenna managed a small nod. She tried to scoot upward as the bed raised, but couldn’t move. She turned to the nurse who gave her a reassuring smile. “It’s okay, honey. Let’s try a little more water. I’ll only put a little in your mouth at a time.”
This time Jenna could swallow the small amount of water. As her mouth moistened, she could move her tongue some, but her lips would only open a little on the right side. The nurse refilled the syringe four times and gave it to Jenna in small squirts. Finally, she said, “Okay, we’re going to stop for a few minutes. I’m going to unbind your hands and legs, but you have to promise you won’t try to fight me. Promise?”
Jenna gave a small nod. Had she been fighting the nurse? She couldn’t remember.
After the nurse cleaned her up and changed her gown, she gave Jenna a few more squirts of the water. “I’m going to get the doctor and let him know you’re awake. Are you in pain?”
Jenna shook her head. The pain was not bad, and she was afraid they’d give her something to knock her out again. She wanted to know where she was and why she was here.
It seemed like forever before a doctor came around the curtain. He was dark skinned with dark eyes and black hair. Jenna wasn’t sure what his nationality was. He could have been from India or somewhere in that region, but when he spoke, he had no accent. “Good morning. How are you feeling? Do you feel okay?”
Jenna shook her head.
“Are you in pain?” he asked as he took her arm and felt for her pulse.
She shook her head again.
“Do you remember what happened to you?” he asked as he looked at the machine that was reading her vitals.
Jenna shook her head again.
The doctor looked into her right eye. “Someone beat you up very badly. They broke your jaw in several places on the left side. Your mouth is wired shut, that’s why you can’t talk. Your left eye is swollen shut, and some of the bones around your eye socket are broken.” He paused for a moment letting Jenna take in the information. “Do you remember who did this to you?”
There were flashes of a memory, but nothing concrete, so she shook her head.
The doctor took out a little flashlight. “I’m going to shine this light in your eye for a second, try to hold it open, okay?”
Jenna could keep her right eye open long enough for him to look into it quickly. She raised her right hand and pointed to the strap by her left hand that the nurse had left undone.
“Why were you bound to the bed?” he asked, understanding her question.
“You were unconscious when you were brought in to the ER. When you came to, you freaked out and started swinging your arms and kicking. We had to sedate you so we could help you. You were the same way the next time you came to, so we decided it would be best to strap you down, so you didn’t hurt yourself, or anyone else. Do you remember any of that?” The doctor nodded when Jenna shook her head. “I didn’t think so. You’ve had a pretty severe head injury. It may be a long time before you remember anything about your attack. There are a couple of police officers who have been here to check on you, hoping you’d remember something about your attacker. They are going to want to talk to you. Do you think you can answer questions?”
Jenna shrugged and patted her stomach that growled loudly.
“I’ll get the nurse to bring you something. Of course, it will be liquid, but it will fill you up.” He patted her hand. “I’ll be back to check on you in a little while.” He left the room.
The nurse returned shortly after he left with what looked like a milkshake. “I wasn’t sure if you liked chocolate, so this time we’re going to have a vanilla shake. This is made with soy milk, just in case you have an allergy to regular milk. I’m going to give it to you like we did the water earlier. You may have some use of the right side of your mouth, but I don’t think you’ll be able to suck on a straw yet.”
After the nurse had finished feeding her, she gave Jenna another dose of pain medicine through her IV and instructed her to rest. She fell asleep shortly after the nurse left. When she woke up, there was a new woman sitting on the edge of her bed gently shaking her. The woman smiled when Jenna’s eye slowly fluttered open. “Hi. I’m Special Agent Dana Tamaski. I know you can’t talk right now, but I’d like to ask you some yes or no questions. Would that be okay?”
Jenna didn’t get a chance to answer before the nurse showed up. “She’s going to need some more water. Let me give her a little bit and let her sit up better before you start questioning her,” the nurse said.
“Okay,” the special agent said and moved out of the nurse’s way.
Once the nurse felt that Jenna was ready, she left the room, and the agent sat back down on the edge of the bed. The agent was a short brunette. Her hair lay splayed across the shoulders of the beige sports coat she was wearing over a cream button-down shirt. She gently patted Jenna’s hand. “I know you must be terrified.”
“Let’s start with some simple questions. Do you know what your name is?” Special Agent Tamaski asked.
“Is it Jenna Matthews?”
Jenna nodded again.
“Do you remember what happened to you?”
Jenna shook her head.
Special Agent Tamaski got off the bed and took some pictures out of a folder on the chair sitting next to the bed. The first picture she showed Jenna was of a middle-aged woman with long blond hair and dark blue eyes. “Is this your mother?”
Jenna nodded as the memory of talking to her mother in the kitchen before school came to her.
“Good,” Special Agent Tamaski said. She pulled out another picture of a pretty young woman with shoulder length blonde hair and cobalt blue eyes. “Is this Cara?”
Jenna wanted to smile but she couldn’t. Cara, beautiful Cara. Suddenly a memory of Cara flying across her bedroom jolted her. She looked at Special Agent Tamaski fearfully and pointed at the picture.
“She’s okay,” she said.
Relaxing with a sigh, Jenna nodded.
“Okay,” Special Agent Tamaski said. “Seeing the picture of Cara sparked a troubling memory, is that right.”
Special Agent Tamaski had one more picture. “I’m going to bring the nurse in before I show you this picture.” She left the room and came back with the nurse who had been attending to Jenna all day and another nurse.
“This is Mary,” the first nurse said. “She will be taking care of you for the rest of the evening.” She looked from Jenna to Special Agent Tamaski and then back to Jenna. “The next picture Special Agent Tamaski needs you to look at might upset you, but it may help them figure out what happened to you. Do you want to look at it?”
Jenna took a deep breath and nodded.
“Okay,” Mary said. “If you get too upset, we’re here to help you calm down. Are you ready?”
Jenna nodded again.
“Good,” Special Agent Tamaski said. “I need to know if he attacked you.”
Jenna flinched when she saw her father’s face. The memory of him beating her came back in a rush, and she tried to get away from his picture by pushing herself back with her feet. Each nurse took an arm and a leg. “Calm down, Jenna,” Mary said. “It’s okay. He can’t hurt you now.”
But Jenna couldn’t stop the fear and then a pain shot through her head. She tried to cry out and reach for her head. Suddenly, she was trying to get away from the nurses. She wanted to run away from the memories. The memory of the dead woman in her father’s freezer, the memory of walking in on him putting the woman’s body in the trunk of her mother’s car, the memory of him hitting her over and over again. Just as quickly as the memories came, the darkness overtook her, and she was unconscious again.
Special Agent Tamaski had stepped back and watched as the nurses subdued the young woman and gave her something in her IV that instantly knocked her out.
“Did you get the answers you needed,” Janet asked.
“Some of them,” Special Agent Tamaski said. “The next time I come by I’m going to bring a pen and paper. Hopefully, we’ll get even more answers then.”
“Well, I hope you are going to wait a day or two,” Mary said. “She’s been here three days and is just now conscious. You guys need to give her time to adjust to her circumstances.”
Janet asked, “Did your questions tell you any more about who she is?”
“We’re closer,” Special Agent Tamaski said evasively.
“Well, does she have a name we can call her?” Janet asked.
“No. I guess she’s still just Jane Doe,” Special Agent Tamaski said and walked out of the room.