The first thing I saw was my feet, pressing up underneath a white blanket so that it looked like twin snowy mountains. My eyes wouldn’t open all the way, felt crusted, so I tried to open them wider. It felt like they were unzipping, and it hurt a bit, like the muscles hadn’t been used in a long time. Something stirred to my left, and I looked over. It was a man, dressed in nurse’s attire. I looked back down to my feet, slowly became more away of my body. The whole thing was under the blanket, and so very still. I felt like cement, heavy. I didn’t even hazard an attempt at moving my arms.
I turned my attention back to the nurse, who was busying himself with a clipboard. I don’t know what I’d planned to say, but when I opened my mouth, all that came out of it was “Uhhn.” I felt something in my nose, tried to flare my nostrils but couldn’t tell whether I did or not.
The nurse jumped, and immediately I felt a bit guilty. He turned. “Well, hello mister Kunwar.” Kunwar . . . That sounded right. That was me. Where was I? The nurse was quick to answer. “You were in an accident. You were bruised up pretty bad, and your head took a real shot, but you’ll be alright.” That was good news. Accident sounded right too. I was in accident. “Can you tell me your name?” That’s when a good bit of it caught up to me, and at once that question was a bit irritating.
“I’m Saphal.” I said.
“Good,” said the nurse, scribbling something down as nurses do. “Can you tell me what else you remember?”
Nothing useful. “I remember a lot,” I said. But at the moment I knew a great deal of it was something no one else could verify. A dream. A dream that was just a dream. “I’d rather not talk about it.”
“Alright,” Said the nurse. “That’s alright. I should go get the doctor and tell him you’re up.” Up seemed an unreasonable descriptor, as I was very clearly lying on my back and unwilling to take a stab at any locomotion at the moment. Regardless, the nurse left the room. When I was alone, I closed my eyes. Behind my eyelids I could see the last image, above the glass ceiling, the three figures obscured but there. I couldn’t go back into the chamber, couldn’t or for the moment didn’t want to. I heard the door open and reopened my eyes.
In came a woman, the doctor, and behind her a man and a young boy, both with faces I recognized. “Hello Saphal,” said the doctor. “I brought some friends that came to see you.”
The man approached my right side, and the boy didn’t. “Hey, kid,” said the man.
I took a deep breath, just to ensure my voice would make sound. “Hi John.” John. John Humphrey. The father, if you hadn’t guessed. And at the door, the little brother. Jamie.
John cleared his throat. His eyes looked heavier than mine. “How uh . . . how you feeling?” I couldn’t bring myself to answer that one, but hoped my face would do enough. I glanced to Jamie, who was holding something. “Your parents are coming,” said John. “Should be in late tonight.” My parents . . . It took me a second to acknowledge my own personal history, so long I’d been ensconced in some other somewhere. And then it occurred to me to ask.
“Casey . . .”
John looked down, and that was all the answer I needed. Still, he said “She didn’t make it. She was gone by the time,” he cleared his throat again, “by the time the ambulance got to you.” It didn’t come as a surprise to me, given all I’d witnessed, regardless of whether or not I was aware that none of it was real, regardless of whether or not it really was. “We brought you something, though,” said John, making it sound as if whatever they’d brought was supposed be an exchange for learning my girlfriend was dead. He looked over to Jamie, and so I did to.
The kid made brief eye contact with me, and when he looked away again he was quiet for a bit. And then he said. “It was the only thing they let us take, from the crash.” He walked over to the bed, and John stepped back and out of the way. Then he put something next to me.
A frog. A little, fuzzy, green stuffed frog. It looked familiar. It had to. And it was probably just my own injured brain, but it seemed to be looking right at me, like I looked familiar too.
“Thank you,” I said, not breaking eye contact with the frog.
The frog, the frog, the frog. There it was, come back round to me. And for all the world, though it frustrated me greatly, I could not at all recollect its significance.
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