Chapter 1: Welcome confusion, make yourself at home.
The first question that popped into my head as I drifted back to consciousness was “Why?“. It rang loudly and repetitively as I was still seeing just dark. My head felt like it was filled with cotton and my eyelids weigh a ton. I tried using all my will to open them but didn’t manage to do anything but flutter them. My ears were ringing at the different sounds coming to me then. Screams. Cries. Name calling. Light. A blinding light. What the hell was happening to me?
“Lacey? Lacey, can you hear me?”
Were they talking to me? I tried opening my mouth to respond but couldn’t move. Then someone opened my eyelids for me and a light blinded me as I followed it without even realizing it.
“She’s conscious and waking up.”
Water. I needed water. My mouth felt like the Sahara and I couldn’t even swallow. A headache was killing me as a thousand questions at a time filled my head. What day was it? Where was I? Why did everything hurt so much? Why couldn’t I open my eyes?
“Lacey, squeeze my hand as hard as you can if you hear me.”
I felt someone taking my hand in his or hers and talking to me.
“Lacey, squeeze my hand honey.”
It took all the force in the world to give the slightest squeeze and then I heard more screaming and crying and I still couldn’t see anything. Everything hurt, everything was too loud, ringing around me and I wanted to scream, the confusion building up inside of me, but there was nothing I could do. So I closed my eyes and fell into unconsciousness, that welcomed me back with open arms.
“Is she awake yet?”
If they could have, my brows would have knitted together in a frown as the familiar feeling of confusion took over my brain. More voices. My throat. God it was so dry, like sand paper. It seemed like I was regaining some functions since I started to blink. Heavily at first and then rapidly. Come on, open your eyes! The light was too bright at first and I wanted to shield my eyes from it with the back of my hand like I had a feeling I normally would but I couldn’t move my arms too much so I just blinked.
“Oh my God! Call the doctor! Lacey! Can you hear me baby?”
A shadow hid the blinding light from my eyes and I wanted to sigh in relief as my vision became clearer. It was a petite figure, a woman. She had long brown hair falling in cascades down her back and worry was painted all over her face as she was staring at me. Then someone asked her to move and another figure took her place to shadow me from the blinding light. This time, it was a man, massive, with an odd white attire. He took out something from his pocket while I was blinking some more and then blinded me with a little flashlight while my pupils followed it. I got a weird sense of déjà-vu.
“Welcome back Lacey. Here, you might be thirsty.”
God, he was a mind-reader and I almost squealed as he got closer to me with a cup of water. It had a straw in it that he placed in my mouth and I started drinking, retaining moans of relief as my dry throat was slowly beginning to come back to life. I finished the entire cup and sighted slightly.
“More?” He inquired. “Can you talk now?”
I opened my mouth and a weird raspy deep voice that I didn’t know would ever come out of my own mouth answered “Yes please”. And then more cries and shouts were heard but I couldn’t make out where they came from. Or from who. I drank the other cup of water with the help of the massive man and scratched my throat a couple times before talking again. The questions were coming in quicker and more furiously by the minute as confusion was becoming my new best friend. Welcome, confusion, make yourself at home.
“Where am I?”
My voice was still raspy but it was still better than the first time around.
“Lacey, you’re in the hospital honey. I’m doctor Shaeffer.”
Hospital? Doctor? What the hell was going on?
“I know this must be really strange and confusing for you right now, but I will explain everything okay? I promise. But right now, we need to run some more tests. We have to make sure everything is functioning ok. Do you mind doing that for me Lacey?”
This time, I could frown and I did. But I still answered a little “yes” and the doctor smiled. He made the people I couldn’t distinguish leave the room and then asked me to move my toes, legs, arms, neck and once he was sure I could move everything at least a tiny bit, he sighed, seeming relieved and content with my situation.
“So now that we’ve taken care of the physical, I need to know if everything is fine mentally too Lacey. So I will just ask you simple questions. Do you need more water before?”
“No, thank you.”
He took his little notepad and passed at the other page.
“What is your full name?”
“Lacey Amanda Jones.” I stated.
“Where do you live?”
I opened my mouth, ready to answer but nothing came. I could see my house, its white picket fence and my room still decorated as if I was a ten year-old girl obsessed with pink and unicorns but what was the address?
“Can you at least tell me the city?” the doctor insisted.
The name made its way up to my brain.
“Kirtland, Ohio!” I exclaimed with relief.
The doctor smiled. “Good. What year is this?”
The doctor raised his eyes from his notepad, the smile soon replaced by a frown.
“Could you repeat that for me Lacey?”
He bit his lip with worry.
“Lacey, how old are you?”
“I’m 16.” I answered.
I knew it like two plus two equals four but I couldn’t remember anything about it. Had I celebrated my birthday? I didn’t even know what kind of cake I had eaten or what presents I had received, as if it was light years away.
“Okay... I have to go talk to a few doctors Lacey, hang tight. I’ll call your family in, I’m sure you want to see them now.”
My family... I could picture a few faces now that I was thinking about it. Two people entered the room and a woman that looked about in her forties bent over my bed, her eyes filled with tears, and started caressing my hair.
“Oh my god, Lacey, my baby girl, we thought... we thought we had lost you.”
And then she full on cried and I was looking at her, frowning. Some part of me knew she was my mother but the memories of her and me were... so old. It was like she was a stranger even if I knew who she was. The weirdest feeling. She lifted my body a little to hug me as she sobbed more and more, tears running down her face and some falling on my neck.
“Are you ok? Can you move?” She inquired, her voice breaking a little.
“Tara, give her some space.” A man’s voice suggested pulling her away from me by the arm.
My dad. He was my dad, that was for sure. But it was the same feeling as with my mom. It felt like he was a stranger.
“Hey Lacey. How are you feeling kiddo?” He asked.
I could hear he was on the verge of crying too and this was all too much to me. I wanted to scream and run, escape this feeling of confusion and terror but I stayed stuck, lying on my bed, looking at the two strangers I knew were my parents.
“Do you remember anything from the accident?” My mom inquired, placing a strand of my hair behind my ear gently, as if I was a little girl.
The accident? What was she talking about? What accident?
Oh right. I was in the hospital. There must have been a reason for that. God my brain was working slow.
“No. What happened to me? Why am I here?” Tears of terror finally escaped my eyes and my mom wiped them her thumb as soon as they fell down my cheeks.
“Oh Lacey, my baby. It’s ok. You’re okay now.” My eyes fell to her hand taking mine and I noticed I had needles in it and tubes branched to my arm. It was the most terrifying sight so I looked away.
“You had an accident kiddo.” My dad explained. “Your car... smashed into another and you...” He looked up a little, surely to retain his tears. “You almost died but then the doctors managed to keep you alive and now... Now you’re awake and this is... a miracle.” He finished.
And then he started crying too and my heart was hurting and I wanted to scream again. He still felt like a stranger to me.
“I don’t remember anything...” I confessed with fear. “How long... How long have I been here?”
The two strangers, scratch that, my parents looked at each other for a second then back at me with a look... the “oh, honey!” look of pity you give to meaningless people.
“Kiddo... You’ve been in a coma for two months.”
The air felt like it was sucked out of my lungs for a second as I stared at my father in shock. Two months. No. This was impossible. I couldn’t have slept for two months, could I?
“The doctor said... He said you thought you were sixteen...” My mom started, sounding a little unsure.
“Yeah...” I trailed on.
“Honey, you’re eighteen. Remember your birthday party with all your friends? Derek bought you the diamond earrings and a beautiful necklace and took you to dinner. Remember?”
Derek? Who in the hell was Derek? And what was that crazy talk about me being eighteen? Two months plus sixteen didn’t equal eighteen! What in the world was going on? Oh god. I felt so tired all of a sudden, I just wanted to drift into sleep, where nothing mattered and my mind couldn’t play tricks on me. Oh confusion, I don’t want you in here!
“I’m tired.” I whispered, feeling my eyelids getting too heavy for me to even pretend anymore.
“Oh, of course honey, we’ll let you sleep. We can talk about it later. I love you so much sweetie.” My mum sniffed.
I closed my eyes and fell back into sleep, finally stopping my brain on overload.
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