I wake. I realize that this waking, this emerging from sleep, is new. I feel awake. All is gray about me, but I am awake to observe this gray. I can observe. That is new. I am awake and I observe.
I wake. There are…shapes in the gray. I do not recognize these shapes, but they move. I am sure of it. The gray near these shapes seems to flow, to shimmer. I can sleep, wake up, observe, and see movement. Seeing is new. Movement is new.
I stay awake. I do not feel the need to go back to sleep. I watch the shapes move, but then, they stop. Did they leave? Leave where? Where is here, and if they left, where did they go? I can observe something about here and guess that there is a place that is not here. Here and there are new.
I sleep. Now I am awake. I see the shapes in the gray moving again. The shapes, they are lighter, whiter than the rest of the gray. White is new. Wait. What was that? A sound. I hear a noise, just for the briefest of moments. I cannot name the noise. Noise and hearing sounds are new.
I remain awake. I remember that I remained awake for a while before my last sleep. Remembering something is new. I can hear and I can remember. What else do I remember? I cannot recall.
I am still awake. I hear another noise. It rises and falls, loud and then soft. It repeats itself. I do not understand the noise, yet I can tell whatever makes it, keeps making the same noise. It must mean something. I can hear and identify a noise and recognize that it must mean something. Identification and recognition are new.
The shapes leave. This time, when the shapes go away, I hear a different noise. This one was abrupt. It does not rise and fall. It is the noise, the sound of leaving. The shapes make a sound when they leave. I must listen for that sound. Maybe it will happen when the shapes come back, too.
I hear that sound, and then the shapes came back. I stare at them, willing, hoping for them to make the rising and falling sound. They do. It sounds like the shapes are directing the sound at me. Can they see me? Do they see only shapes in the gray, or something else? I blink, hoping to see more. They make the sound again. It seems to be something like “Mary.” I hear the sound, Mary. That is new. Only, what is Mary? What should that mean to me?
The shapes make the going away sound. I sleep.
Mary. I wake up with that sound in my mind. Or is it? Maybe the shapes are here, saying it again. I do not see any. Mary. What is a Mary? No, not what. Who is a Mary? A what is a thing and a who is a person. I am sure of it. I know about things and people. That is new. Mary. Why would the shapes say Mary over and over again when they are here? Do they say Mary somewhere else? If Mary is a person, they must say it near a Mary. Near a Mary. That means that I must be a Mary. I am Mary. Knowing that I am Mary is new.
As I wait for the shapes, I think about the sound, Mary. The shapes make that sound—they say it. Can I say it? Can I make sounds? I try. Mary. I do not think I make any sound. I keep trying, using what I think is my mouth. Knowing that I have a mouth is new, but I do not think mine can make sounds. I keep trying. Trying is new.
The shapes come. I hear the noise, and I hear the sound, Mary. I am Mary. I want the shapes to know that I know this. Wanting them to know is new. I…shift. Part of me lifts up. I do not know which part, but it seems nearer to the top of me than to the bottom. Lifting that part and knowing where it is on me is new. I move something. I can move. Do the shape notice?
The shapes make another sound. I do not recognize it. They make the leaving sound. Did I do something wrong? Wrong. Right and wrong. Something I do can be right or it can be wrong. Right means that it worked or did what I wanted it to, or what someone else wanted. Wrong is the opposite. Knowing right and wrong is new. I do not want to do something wrong for the shapes.
Wait, the shapes are back. I hear the sound and I see them. Should I lift that part of my body? I hear the Mary sound. Maybe I should. Maybe they want to see me lift that part again. I lift it. There is a new sound. It goes on for a while. It is very different from any other sound I have heard from the shapes. It seems…like a good sound. Lifting that part of me was the right thing to do. I lift it again, and again. I hear the Mary sound, and then some other sounds, new ones, that I do not recognize.
The shapes stay for a while, but I stop lifting that part. I am very tired, and the part that I was lifting has a different kind of tired. It does not want to move again. Feeling tired is new. I sleep.
I wake up. The shapes are here. Maybe the coming in sound woke me up. I hear the Mary sound. Without thinking about it, I try to make the Mary sound with my mouth. A noise comes out. I do not recognize the noise, but I do recognize the sound the shapes made. It was the same one they made when I first lifted my arm. Arm. That is what it is. I have an arm. I have two arms. I lift them both. One feels more difficult to lift than the other. The shapes make the same sound again. If I have arms, then I have legs. I lift one. It feels very heavy. Arms, legs, and heaviness are new.
The shapes say, “Mary.” I try to say it back and produce a new noise. It does not sound like Mary to me. Then the shapes move closer and touch the end of my arm. The end of my arm is my hand. The shapes touch my hand. It felt...good. I like the touch. Knowing I have a hand, and being touched is new, and I like it. I try to make the noise again, and the touch grows stronger, tighter around my hand. It still feels good.
I move my hand so that I am touching the shapes. I tighten my grip, just a bit. Knowing that I have a grip is new and that feels good, too. The shapes say, “Mary.” I am beginning to think that what I have been referring to as the shapes is really one shape, one thing, with more than one part. Perhaps it has arms and legs, too. It must have a hand, for it touches me. Knowing that the shape has hands and arms and legs, like me, is new.
The shape stops touching me, and I hear the sound of leaving. I am alone. Being alone is new, even though I must have been alone the other times the shape left. I like it better when the shape is here.
I try to think about arms and legs and hands, and what that might mean. I wonder why the one arm is harder to move than the other. I move the arm that is easy to move so that my hand touches the other arm. There is something there, something that is not arm, not a part of me. It feels like a cord. I let my… my fingers. My hand has fingers. Of course, it does. Both of them do. Knowing I have fingers is new. I let those fingers travel up and down the cord. Somehow, the cord seems attached to me. Knowing up and down, and that there is a cord attached to me, is new. I do not know why the cord is attached to me.
I must have fallen asleep. I wake up. Then I remember something. Something from when I was asleep. It must have been a dream. Dreams happen when one is asleep. Dreaming is new. I am not sure I like the dream I remember. A shape, one with arms and legs, I think, came to me, and did something with the cord. I do not know what, but I felt something when this happened, in my dream. I did not like the feeling. It…hurt. Hurting is new. I do not like hurting even in a dream.
The shape came in. I try to say, “Mary.” This time, I think the “M” sound comes out. The shape comes to my side quickly and wraps its arms around me. That is a hug, and it is new, and I like it. I say, “Mary” again.
The shape is speaking. I hear “Mary” but there is more I do not understand. Then I hear another sound that seems somehow familiar, “David.” I try to make the same sound. The shape gives me another hug.
Then another shape comes in while the first one is still here. It is smaller than the shape that said, “Mary.” It comes over to me and touches the cord on my arm. I try to pull away. I am afraid of this shape; afraid it will make me hurt. Fear is new and I do not like it.
The new shape speaks. The more familiar shape comes over and holds both of my hands, with a gentle but clear pressure.
Something happens with the cord. My arm hurts for a moment, but then the hurt is gone. The shape that calls me Mary keeps hold of me after the other shape leaves. Understanding these movements and that there can be more than one other shape is new.
Later, when the shape leaves, I feel for the cord, but it is no longer there. I hope it does not come back. Hope is new.
I think about hope. What else do I hope for? I want to know this shape that calls me Mary better. I want to understand why I am here, and what is happening. I do not know I want these things until now. Wanting to understand is new. I do not know if I like it, but I do not think that matters.
A new shape comes in. It is not the shape that calls me Mary and seems even smaller than the other shape. I hear a new sound and see this shape’s arm reach for something. It places it into my two hands. It feels cool to the touch. I like the way it feels. The shape says words I do not understand, then puts something into my mouth. I do not know how I know to do so, but I suck on the thing in my mouth. As I do, something rushes into my mouth, and for a moment I cannot breathe. Then I make a strange sound, and it feels like my face is trying to get rid of something inside. This new shape makes another sound and puts the thing back in my mouth. I try to suck again, but not so hard. The liquid goes down my mouth into my throat. It feels good, and not just in my throat and mouth. Taking in that liquid and knowing I did so through my mouth and throat is new. I suck on the thing again and again, wanting more of the liquid.
After this shape leaves, I fall asleep again.
The shape that calls me Mary comes again. Without waiting even for me to try to say “Mary” the shape comes over and holds me. Then it says more words. “How are you, Mary.” I hear these and somehow know what they mean. I need to answer. How am I? I feel much better after the liquid. Liquid? It must have been water. How can I answer the shape? I try to say, “I like water.”
The shape that calls me Mary leaves and comes back with more water for me. The shape holds the thing, no…the straw so that I can drink. I now know that I can drink water through a straw. When the shape takes it away, I do something else with my mouth. I smile. Smiling is new, and I like it. The shape changes then. I am not sure how, but it changes. Suddenly, the things that I think are arms and legs really seem like arms and legs, and somehow, I know what that means. And, and there is something else. A face. I have a mouth, and now I see the shape’s mouth. After I recognize the mouth, I see the eyes and nose. The shape is a person and looks like a person.
I try to say “Mary” as a question. It comes over to me, and puts its finger on me. Not on my face, but lower, on my shoulder. It says, “You are Mary. I am David.” I understand these words. I am. I am Mary. And now I also know that this person who has been visiting me is David. I smile again, and David smiles back and hugs me.
David stays with me. Only this time, he, for I know now David is a he, speaks for a long time. I do not understand much of what he says. I like hearing his voice, though. Now it seems to me that I heard that voice before, that it seems very familiar. I sit and listen. I sit. I have been lying down or sitting. I am in a bed, listening to David, who I know, I think, from some time before I was in this bed, in this place.
David stops talking. “I know you, David. From before,” I say. I am not sure the words come out right. David comes over to me and he says, “We are married. I love you.”
Love. David loves me. Do I love David? Something feels right about this.
“Mary, you were in an accident. You were hurt. Do you remember me?” says David.
“David, I know you, from before. I do not remember but I know,” I say.
“I love you, Mary. You are already much better.” He hugs me again, but then leaves. As he does, I hear a new sound. It is not happy. I feel a liquid down my face. Tears. These are tears. Tears are new, and I do not think I like them. I think David may not like them either.
I sleep. When I wake, David is here. I reach for him with my arms, and he comes to me. “I love you, Mary,” he says.
“I love you, David.” I do. I want to know more about why I do, but this is enough. Loving David is new, except that I know it is not new.