Hospital lights are so damn bright.
I opened my eyes, only to be blinded by the lights above me. For a second, I thought I was dead. That maybe this was the magical heaven. I quickly realised that wasn’t the case when I started hearing things. A steady beeping noise by the side of me. Voices, distant but still there.
Now, I was never the brightest person anyways, but after waking up after god knows how long, it took me a while to piece together my surroundings and reach the conclusion that I was in hospital. I experimentally moved my legs, then my arms, checking for broken bones or anything to tip me off as to why I was there. As much as I strained my memory, I couldn’t remember a thing.
That’s when the panic set in.
I jumped out of bed onto shaky legs. Clearly I’d underestimated my physical strength as my legs gave out instantly and sent me crashing to the floor. Powered by my sheer panic, I quickly scrambled to my feet and ran to the door. Thankfully, it was unlocked, so I raced out into the hallway and leaned against the wall for support, not trusting my legs to support me.
I took in my surroundings. An empty corridor lined with doors. A corner to my left, and a vending machine at the end of the hallway to my right. A vending machine with an actual person.
I’m not really sure what was going through my mind as I ran to my right. I didn’t know the woman at all, but she could have been my mother for all I knew. I reached her and aggressively tapped her on the shoulder. As she turned around, I could see the look of confusion on her unfamiliar face.
’Do I know you?’ I ask, slightly out of breath from all the running. Clearly too shocked to form a response, the brunette woman just stood there, eyes wide.
’Please, tell me if I know you! I need to know someone!’ I scream, grabbing her by the shoulders. Panic was turning into hysteria, and before I mnew it I was curled up in a ball on the floor, tears streaming down my face.
As I quietly sobbed, I felt a hand on my shoulder. The sensation was unfamiliar but oddly comforting, enough for me to look over and see the woman who I definitely freaked out sat next to me.
‘I’m sorry,’ I whisper, my voice barely audible. ‘I‘m just so confused.’ The woman nodded and extended her arm around my shoulders, pulling me into an awkwardly positioned hug.
’I’m sorry that I don’t know who you are,’ she said, making a few runaway tears slip down my face. ‘But I’m going to help you. Let’s get you back to your room first, okay?’
I nodded, slightly embarrassed. I had just jumped on this woman, broke down shamelessly and there she was, pulling me to my feet and wrapping an arm around my waist to guide me back to my room. I had regained some of my balance at this point, so I was able to walk back to my room with minimal help from the generous stranger. She led me over to the bed in the back of the room and pulled the blanket over my legs.
‘I’m going to find a doctor, but I’ll be right back, okay?’ She said, her tone resembling one a parent would use with their child. I nodded, but called to her as she was about to leave the room.
’What’s your name?’
She turned around and smiled. ‘Jenny Brooks.’
As the door clicked behind her, I realised that I felt a lot calmer than before. I was curious about one thing, so I reached to the end of my bed where a clipboard hung. It was mostly medical terminology, but what I was looking for was right at the top.
Name: Rhianna Belmont.
Rhianna. I tested out the name a few times in my mind and decided that I liked it. Feeling more at ease, I flopped back against the pillows and stared at the dots on the ceiling.
A few minutes late, my door clicked open to reveal both Jenny and a woman in a white coat, who I assumed to be a doctor.
’Hello there Rhianna,’ the doctor smiled. Her tone was sickly sweet and made me feel like a four year old.
I politely said hello back as Jenny sat on the chair next to my bed. She smiled at me and took my hand as the doctor launched into a clearly rehearsed speech. Apparently I’d been in a coma for a month after a car accident, where I had hit my head pretty heard, hence the memory loss. No family, nobody to fill in the gaps about my life. I was told that my memories would come back in time, I just had to be patient. She then exited quickly, telling me to press the button at the side of my bed if I needed anything. She shut the door and left me alone with Jenny, completely stunned at the overload of information.
’Are you okay?’ Jenny asked. I shrugged.
‘As good as I can be. It’s just a lot.’
She nodded and squeezed my hand. ‘We’ll get you through this.’
I thought that I wouldn’t see her after that day. After all, I was still the girl who nearly gave her a heart attack at a hospital vending machine. The next day, I switched on the TV in the corner of my room and braved myself for boredom. I absolutely hated the idea of sitting in my room watching TV all day, but there was nothing else for me to do.
I was on my third Friends episode of the day when there was a knock at my door. I called a simple ‘come in,’ and the door opened to reveal Jenny, holding a pile of books. She smiled and put them down on the table next to my bed.
’Got some reading books, playing cards and way too many puzzles, so I hope you like sudoku,’ she said. She sat beside my bed, smiling a warm smile. ‘I hope it’s okay that I came back. I was just kind of worried about you.’ I smiled at her and nodded. ‘It’s okay. Thanks for coming.’
She spent hours there with me. We played a very intense game of snap (that I won despite Jenny’s cheating accusations.) Completed about twenty puzzles in the book and listened to music on her phone. It was the music that triggered my first memory. Jenny had introduced me to Billy Joel’s music, which I immediately loved. She played a song called ‘Honesty,’ and suddenly I wasn’t in the hospital.
I was sat on the windowsill of my bedroom window, tears streaming down my face, the song playing through my earphones. The bitter air blew my hair around as I curled up into a small ball, trying to make myself as small as possible.
By the time my mind was back in the present day, Jenny’s voice was ringing in my ears.
’Rhi! Can you hear me?’
I nodded slightly, not trusting my voice to stay steady. After a few minute, I explained the flashback to her as she listened carefully.
’That’s odd. Do you remember what you were crying about?’
I shook my head. ‘I just remember sad. Feeling really, really sad.’
Jenny looked at me sympathetically. She rested her hand on mine and smiled at me.
‘Hey, remember when you tackled me by a vending machine?’