“What’s wrong?” I ask. Or try to ask. Only my throat is sore and dry, so my voice barely rises above a whisper. Not even swallowing seems to help. “Mom?”
She wipes away the tears in a rush. “Sweetheart.”
Everything in the strange white room seems hazy and insubstantial. I blink repeatedly, trying to clear my view. There’s a vase of fading pink roses sitting on a small side table and I’m hooked up to a drip along with an array of machines. My body is one long, dull, horrible ache. What the hell happened?
“You were in an accident,” says Dad, answering the question I hadn’t yet asked. He rises from a chair in the corner of the room. “Do you remember?”
Before I can answer, Mom’s there with her tremulous smile. “You’ve woken up before, but never for long. You keep going back to sleep.”
None of this makes sense. “What . . .”
“The doctor told us that we have to ask you how you’re feeling and what you can remember,” she says.
“W-wait,” I stutter. “Where’s Ryan?”
They share a worried glance.
“What’s going on?” I ask.
“What do you remember?” Mom perches on the edge of the bed. “How do you feel?”
“Can you move your fingers and toes?” asks Dad.
“I feel confused and frustrated.” I stop to swallow again. Still not helping. “But yes, my fingers and toes are fine.”
Mom rushes to fetch a plastic cup full of water with a straw sticking out for me. I try to take it slow, try to just sip it, but it tastes so good.
“I don’t remember an accident,” I admit once I’m finished.
“Another car hit you and you lost control.”
They both wait for me to react. For recognition to strike. But I’ve got nothing. “When?”
“Let’s wait for the doctor,” says Mom, wringing her hands.
“Just tell me. Please.”
“It’s the fourteenth of February.” Dad straightens his tie in a rare show of nerves. “That’s the date today.”
I frown. “No. No, that can’t be.”
Mom nods, adamant.
“What?” I ask, incredulous.
“Seven Months. Yes,” says Dad.
“It’s a long time to be in a coma. No one thought you’d wake up.” Mom balls up a Kleenex in her hands. “The doctors said . . . it doesn’t matter what they said now. You’re a medical miracle. I knew you’d be okay. My daughter’s a fighter.”
While none of this makes sense, it’s all too real to be a joke. Not that my parents have much of a sense of humor. But there’s nothing false in my mother’s pained eyes. The last thing I can remember was it being July and we were at home planning a barbeque. Only a summer storm hit on my way to the store, the first rain in over a month. Then nothing.
Seven months of my life just gone. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Summer, autumn, and winter. A whole half a year. It can’t be. It isn’t possible.
My brain won’t cooperate and even attempting to lift my hand is a strain. It doesn’t look any different, but I’m so damn weak and locked up. And where’s my engagement ring, my wedding band? Guess they took them off me for security reasons, but still. I don’t like it.
“Where’s Ryan?” I ask again.
Mom turns away.
“Where is my husband?” This time my voice is trembling. There was no one else in the car with me. Ryan stayed home to sweep the deck and clean the grill. To get everything ready. I don’t remember anyone being in the passenger seat. But then I don’t remember an accident either, just some vague shadowy dreams. This is hell.
“Oh, sweetheart,” says Mom, eyes glossy with unshed tears.
“He isn’t . . .” I can’t say the word dead. I don’t want to even think it. “What happened?”
“He’s on his way.” Dad slips his cell phone back into his pants pocket, all while avoiding my eyes. “Just try and stay calm, Anna. Getting all upset about the situation won’t help anything.”
Despite my father’s words, my breath comes faster. A full-on panic attack all of about two seconds away. Not easy to do from a prone position, but I’m giving it my best damn shot. “What the hell is going on?”
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