The hand that Mom placed on my wrist felt dry and cold, but Miki’s was hot and slippery with sweat. We were walking quickly towards a certain direction, the breezy air brushing on my skin, Mom to my right and Miki to my left. Each rustle of my clothes gave me comfort, for I knew that I existed in this place. The touch of Mom and Miki’s skins on my own were especially welcome – they told me that there was still people who wouldn’t let go of my presence. I was still alive, no matter what had happened.
My body felt strangely light with each step I took on the hard floor, but my thoughts didn’t share the same sentiment. What was happening to me? Where was I going? I would have gone insane if I didn’t have my family, what with all the unanswered questions going through my head.
And then, without warning, Miki’s hand drifted off of my grasp. Whereas his presence faded, I could feel Mom’s hand tightening as she pulled me to a stop. Instantly, I halted in my path, tilting my head towards where I thought she would be, and jerked away involuntarily. I regretted it, though, because it only made her grip stronger with each passing second.
There had been a moment that was similar to now, a whisper of a memory echoed in my mind. It had been long ago, but I could still recall it: I had been woken up in the middle of the night by an indomitable force, slamming without warning, unseen in the darkness of sleep. A harsh hand struck twice on a perplexed face, and a rattan broom lashed out soon after with frightening accuracy on hands and feet and bodies.
There was confusion, and then there was pain. And then there was that cold hand that held my wrist – the same hand that held my wrist right now– and wouldn’t let go, no matter how hard I tried to pull away. Was I about to return to that time again? Would I suffer the same things that Miki had also suffered for the second time?
On and on the memories flew past, blurring and shifting until I no longer knew where I was or when I was. Lying in my room? Curling up in a corner? Or in a hospital?
And unexpectedly, viciously, like ripping tape off a painful wound, the icy hand flew away from me. Heat and cold and everything in between faded away, like a memory that I wasn’t able to keep. Was I standing or sitting down? Was I even alive? I must be, with my brain still on duty like this! But why? Why everything? Why nothing?
My hands must have reached out to grab something – someone – somewhere. My feet must have kept on walking – or was I falling – running – Mom?
Was I responding to someone’s words? Was I shaking or nodding my head in reply? Where were Mom and Miki?
Maybe this was all just a dream. Was I trying to pinch myself awake? Why can’t I seem to wake up, Miki?
Was I stuck on a bed, or strapped on an operation table? Did someone drug me? Was that why I couldn’t feel anything? Was I able to feel anything in the first place?