Chapter 3: Awakening
Cold droplets hit my face, stirring my consciousness. I could hear voices, though not quite distinguishable. Drip. Another cold droplet splashed against my eyelid before sliding down the contours of my cheek.
"Troy…Troy…Troy…" a soothing voice seemed to play over like a lullaby.
"He is waking up!" Another voice said overhead. I slowly opened up my eyes, only to see a blur of faces. I blinked again before cringing at the bright light beaming from the window and the now clear faces of strange men. I eased myself up to the headrest of the bed, only for my chest to protest in sharp stabbing pains. I could see the three faces light up with joy over seeing me wake up, although I did not understand why.
"We thought we lost you," the oldest man said with a sigh of relief. Veins covered his hands like….vines—that is what they reminded me of—as they stroked my scalp. Wincing, I turned my head away from his hand. I looked at the three distinct men; representing three generations that hovered over me, with one standing behind the other two.
"Who are you?" I rasped.
"I am your grandfather. Do you remember me?"
I stared up, concentrating on the soul behind those brownish-green orbs. I shook my head. Nobody had to tell me the look of pain that registered on his face. I wounded him without even meaning to.
"What about Apollus? Do you remember him?" he asked, pointing at the young, well-composed man, who stood beside him. I had tried to study his eyes, a blend of green and brown, to see if I could remember the soul that possessed them.
"You look familiar as if I knew you from somewhere," I said softly while examining his youthful pristine features that revealed that he was not much older than I.
"You really did have a bad fall," Apollus said. "Do you remember father or you forgot him too?" Apollus said with a bite to his words. The old man glared at the young man. I glanced from Apollus who was fidgeting to the man several paces away from the bed. I squinted at him before saying, "Come closer." He took three steps toward my bedside.
"Troy I am your father," he said in a hollow voice. "We are just relieved you pulled through." I felt a bit uneasy as he began to gaze long and hard at me, as if he was inspecting me. I stared right back looking at the creases under his dark eyes, set deep in his brow. His rough hands ran through my hair before a fingernail snagged at every bend in the shaft. The contours of his face were similar to Apollus but more rigid, matured with age. Upon closer inspection, his face softened, but I could not understand what was going on or how I ended up in this position.
I cleared my rusty voice to ask the question I have been dying to ask. "What happened to me?"
"You were in a terrible accident. You fell off a horse and hit your head against the ground. You just woke up from a three day sleep. We did not know if you would wake up. But you are alive now, but not without wounds," he said stroking my forehead. "I am assuming you do not remember much after the fall. Hopefully this is just a lapse of memory," he said in a calm yet empty tone.
"Maybe you will remember who this is?" Father said handing me a locket. I marveled at the shiny gold chain, now cupped in my hand. I opened the locket and inside was a picture of a mother and baby.
"This is a nice picture. But who does it belong to?"
"It belongs to you. I hoped that maybe…it would trigger something."
"Oh. Who are in the picture? Me?"
"It a picture of you and your mother. You two had the deepest bond," the man said. I stared long and hard, scratching my mind of an image of her but nothing.
"Does she look the same as in the picture? Can I see her?"
Apollus bowed his head low. The room grew eerily silent.
"She is gone Troy," Grandfather said wistfully.
"Where is she? Does she know I am alive? I want to see her," I said, growing impatient. Why were they keeping me from her?
"Troy, she is gone. She is not coming back I am afraid," Apollus said with his voice growing somber.
"What do you mean she is not coming back?" I said throwing my hands limply in the air.
"She is dead Troy! She died ten years ago," father replied sharply. My body went numb from the shock. I could not believe I did not even have any memories of her.
"When did she die?"
"When you were very young, Troy," father answered, gentling his voice.
"How did she die?"
"I believe you have asked enough questions for today. You are going delirious. This has been too much for you to handle. You just awoke from a deep sleep. You need to rest in bed," father answered. I suppose they all wanted me to go to sleep and pretend everything was good.
"But I want to know. I need to know for my own good. I want to remember," I said getting upset.
"You do not even know yourself. You forgot everything," Apollus said.
"I know that you do not care!" I snapped.
"Troy, just stay calm. Your brother did not mean that," the old man said.
"But he does not care. Why should I trust you or any of you?"
"Because we are your family, and we love you. That is why," Grandfather said with angst coloring his voice. "If only you knew," he said shaking his head. As he slowly backed away, I pulled the linen sheets off my lower body. When I tried to pull my legs apart to get out of bed, I felt a debilitating pain from my pelvic area.
"Agh!" I cried out. I could barely move my legs. I looked in disbelief at my ankles that were bent at odd angles. Bluish-red bruises streaked my legs, as I cupped my bandaged legs that were still soaked from my blood.
"You are going to hurt yourself!" Father said, raising his voice. I winced, before centering my lifeless legs in the bed.
"It hurts," I moaned. As my eyes glistened with tears I looked back into the caring eyes of the old man I would call grandfather. As father asked a nearby slave to gather the nurse, grandfather stooped down to my bedside until his eyes were almost leveled to mines.
"It is going to be all right Troy. You will be able pull through this. We need you to be strong. We will help you through this. You are not alone. I told you this when you were four years old and you had just lost your mother," his palm latched onto left hand. "Even if you forgot my promise to you... or even me I will not leave you. Please trust us that we can help," he said softly.
As the men left the room, some slaves came by with sponges and small clay bottles filled with wine and fragrant oils and another liquid that smelled awfully familiar to clean the wounds. One female slave reopened bandage cloth which was dyed a lovely maroon. I imagined before the blood it was once a pure white. With teeth clenched, I cringed as the slaves poured some acidic juice, letting it simmer in my raw flesh. That must be the vinegar! I grunted between my clenched teeth. I looked up briefly at the bruises that covered my legs before being ordered to lie still. After the wounds were cleaned and dressed, a female slave acting as a nurse lifted my tunic, to check my swollen ribs. I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces poking and prodding me like I was some specimen. I held my breath, trying not to complain. How could things ever return to the way they were? I had not really remembered what was customary. All I knew was pain the time I woke up.
After the frenzy, I was finally allowed to rest alone. However my sleep fled me. I was tossing and turning. Throbbing pain racked my body from one side to the next. It was no use trying to sleep. It was not even mid-day yet. Then a slave girl walked into my bedroom, clutching a polished metal disk by its handle. I caught a glimpse of her reflection. It was a mirror.
"Can I see it?"
Startled, she turned around to face me, "I thought you were supposed to be sleeping."
"I just woke up from a long sleep. I do not need to go back to one, unless everyone wants me too!" I replied briskly.
"No, not at all my Excellency." My excellency? Since when did people start addressing me by fancy titles? I clearly must be royalty. "But it would be good to rest up a little," she continued. "You did have quite a day. I wish there was something I could do."
"You can hand me that mirror you are holding," I said, matter-of-fact.
"Oh certainly," she said with what seemed to be a nervous smile. There was apprehension in her voice. As she handed me the hand mirror, I saw the boy everyone was gawking at. Staring back at me were two wide, deep brown eyes. The boy had curly tresses that framed his crown. With my finger I followed the curve of the scar above my left brow. I stroked my sunken cheeks until my fingers bristled under the coarse stubble that invaded my chin.
I pulled the mirror further from me, getting a wider view of the boy looking back at me. The boy in the mirror looked feeble with his bandages crisscrossing over his chest, ending abruptly at the naval, before resuming along both legs. This wasn't me. I tossed the mirror. I jolted at the sound of metal shattering into a thousand pieces like glass. This could not be right.
"Are you well?" she asked, snapping me from my stupor and into reality. In my trembling grip, was the hand mirror. I blinked again. The same damaged boy stared back at me.
"My Excellency, do you need more time with the mirror?" she asked meekly.
"No, you can have it. I do not want it anymore. I just needed to see for myself," I said softly. I barely could recognize myself. The haunting image would be etched in my mind. After anticipating how I looked; I dreaded the frightening image that would became me. I tried to force my mind on something positive. I looked out the window of my bedroom, to see who I assumed to be slaves walking around the perimeter, trimming the bushes. I looked longingly at the slaves who were free to move around. Oh, how I yearned to leave this prison and enjoy the fresh air, and feel the grass beneath my sandals!
"Will I walk again?" I called to the slave girl before she walked off.
"I do not know," she said looking down at the ground. She walked away quickly, as she rubbed her eyes. I simply could not understand what her problem was. The only thing I knew was that my name was Troy.