If I Could Do Everything Over Again, it Would All Be Different

May 3, 2008
By Christie Tupper, Fresno, CA

I trudged heavily through the snow; desperately trying to find some sort of salvation from the bitter cold wind and the feeling of numbness that made my impending frostbite impossible to ignore. I pulled the thick, black wool of my trench tight across my chest. My left arm stung horribly where it hung limp at my side, the dislocation of my shoulder and protruding bones of my forearm were unexplainable to my empty mind. The fear of death that I should've felt now escaped me. These were my first memories; lost in a frozen, iced-over forest with not but a black, wool, coat, a thin, white, silk nightgown, and an utterly useless pair of white spike heals.

The hallow of a fallen tree served me as a humble shelter and I began to inspect the frozen body which I found to be mine. I had pale skin, with frail, bony hands, thick, waving brown hair extended far past my shoulder blades and was wrapped loosely into a braid that was tied of with a thin piece of red ribbon. I had a moderately thin frame with long legs and well toned muscles. My feet were small and dainty with manicured nails that had been painted over with deep purple nail polish. On the right side of my stomach, above my hip was a large wound, another wound ran down the back of my left leg and then a I could feel a final stretching across the middle of my back. Reaching from my right shoulder onto my back and out of my range of vision was a black and white tattoo of an angel; an elegant winged woman with curls and a flowing gown that seemed to be drifting along on an invisible wind.

At some point I had fallen asleep out of exhaustion on the hard, dirty forest floor that I had cleared of snow. I became thankful to the rapidly spreading numbness that enshrouded my body. It was a welcome deterrent from the agony of my decaying body. There I slept, fearful of this new world that seemed to be full of pain and loneliness.

When I awoke I found myself again in an entirely unfamiliar world. I was laying in a metal bed, railings on either side, and covered in white. A white blanket, a white pillow, I had even been dressed in a fresh white nightgown, but this one wasn’t as thin and definitely not as soft. A white curtain that was hung around me shielded me at two sides, a rather plain white wall with crème colored trimming behind me and another to my remaining side.

As I was distracted by the utter dullness of the room I had only just noticed a thick cast around my left arm running up from my hand to my elbow. I had been able to disregard it because of the lack of pain coming from it, my shoulder, too, was painless, in fact I felt no pain at all. It wasn’t that I was numb, the numbness had fled, too, just that my body seemed to be content with itself. Two tubes were strapped down to my right hand and two more protruded from my nostrils.

As I began to investigate my body once again I found all of my wounds to have been closed with course black string running through them. My hair was no longer tied back and it fell limp in my face. I found the ribbon that had held it before on a table at my side, but having no idea of how to tie it back again I wrapped it around my wrist instead.
I would've gotten out of the bed then only I began to hear noises from behind the curtain. Soon I could make out two figures standing on the other side of it. one of them reached up and the curtain pulled away roughly. A woman and a man stood before me, both with looks of astonishment pinned tightly to there faces.

The woman was short, with wispy straw colored hair that barely past her ear lobes. She wore a light blue, short sleeved, V-neck shirt with matching pants. I could tell that her clothes were made of a similar material to that of mine. a strange object was draped over her shoulders, it was a black cord that split into two parts at one end and on the other ended with an odd metal disc. Her eyes were wide and her mouth hung unintelligibly ajar.

The man was older, he was wrinkled and his black hair was dominated by grey. Round glasses were perched upon his rather round nose and made his questioning gaze magnify. His thin lips were stretched into a tight grin and he tapped his open hand was against his cheek. He wore the same light blue clothes as the woman but over them was a white knee-length coat with a pocket on the left side of his chest, above it was a small rectangle with some markings on it but I couldn’t understand what it meant. In his free hand he held a board with an oddly shaped piece of metal pinning papers to it.

The man turned to the woman and made more of the strange noises at her. She responded and gestured toward me. His voice was heavy and a soft crackling sound escaped from his throat when he spoke, hers was crisp, high pitched and rang with intolerance. My watching them seemed to annoy her. I wished she would leave and stop making that horrible screeching noise. I rolled over onto my stomach and shoved my head beneath my crisp white pillow.

I heard a clicking sound and felt the pressure of an object resting against my shoulder. I peeked out from under the pillow and found the man smiling down at me. His smile was warm and sent a gentle feeling tingling through me. Somehow, I felt safe with him. He made more of the sounds but directed them at me. I was confused, it seemed as though I was supposed to respond like the other one had, but I didn’t know how. I reached up and touched his bottom lip, as a way of explaining myself. He made a move back at first, and made more of the sounds at me, he seemed saddened by my inability to communicate.

The man turned to the woman and barked sounds at her loudly. Neither she, nor I expected it and we both jumped slightly and stiffened. She made quiet insecure sounds walked over to the man and I, took the board with the papers from him and left, closing the curtain behind her. The man looked at me and smiled again, this one was a fake smile I could tell.

He made sounds at me as he pushed on one of the railings on the side of my bed, it went down and he sat on the bed beside me. I couldn’t tell what he wanted so I tried to ask him questions. I tried to mimic him and the woman by making sounds, I grunted and moaned, but it seemed to be in vain as the old man smiled and laughed heartily. He made more noises but they didn’t seem to be directed at anything in particular. Then he turned to me still smiling. He pointed to himself with both hands “Doc- tor Jor-don…”
He pointed to me and waited. “Do-oc-ta-tor Jor-dun…” I attempted. He repeated himself and again pointed at me. “Doc-tour Jor-don…” I tried again.

He stood and pointed to me. “You stay. Stay here. I’ll be back.” I couldn’t understand what he was saying but he made hand gestures that cleared it up for me.

“Doctour Jordon.” I replied.

“Good.” He laughed and pulled the curtain away only enough for him to exit.

I sat alone in my bland white room, I had no where to go anyway. I didn’t no what I should do. It was like I was a doll and a child was toying with my life and making all of my decisions for me. I had no options. My own life was out of my reach.

The old man returned a while later with a few more men all dressed in the same light blue clothes and white coat. They were making their strange sounds and regarding me with a variety of looks, ranging from disbelief to skepticism to obvious judgment. None of them seemed to be uninterested in me, they stared at me and probed me with invisible fingers I hated this feeling. I sat upright in my bed waved my arms at the old man from before. I grunted at him and tried my hardest to tell him to make these men leave. He looked at me in confusion. He couldn’t understand.

One of the took a step closer to me, making noises to the others and putting his hands up defensively. I watched him closely, focusing in on his every movement. “Who are you? Do you know where you came from? how you got those wounds?” he slowly sounded out the sounds, trying quite hard to get his point across.

I couldn’t understand him of course so I couldn’t respond. “Doctor Jordon.” I looked to the old man as support. He joined his colleague at my bed side and laid a gentle hand on my injured arm. I looked at him and grunted in desperation. He understood. He made sounds to the men and they all dispersed.

For a long time I remained in the bed, various men and women visited me constantly. They removed the curtain at one point. It revealed to me a larger room with one more white wall and a glass wall. I don’t know how long I had been there before they did since I had no way keeping track of time, I didn’t even have a concept of time at that point.

Through the glass wall I could see a desk where two or three women in various colors and styles of the usual blue outfits sat always. There was a large door behind them and people passed in and out of it often. I spent most of my time watching people as they went on with their business; I often saw people walking in groups, holding onto one another with water falling from their eyes. I wondered why the water fell, why the women at the desks wouldn’t look them in the eyes.

One woman in particular visited me many times. She wasn’t young but not nearly as old as Dr. Jordon had been. Her face was like an upside down triangle, tight and pinched. Angled hazel eyes peered out from underneath thick black eyebrows, and her eyelids were often painted with shades of pink or brown. Her high, boney cheeks and large ,wide lips, too, were colored in reds, pinks and oranges. She had a long thin neck that was accentuated by her chin-length, bob haircut. Her black hair was course and did justice to its name as it bounced around with her movements.

She wore different clothes than the others; often it was colorful pant suits with white, black or skin-toned camisoles and high pointy-toed shoes. I didn’t know why she would dress so differently than the others but I made no attempts to find out. The ones who wore the white coats treated her as one of their own and often I saw her walking and laughing with them through my glass wall.

When she would visit me she would bring papers with lager symbols written on them. She would say them and then have me repeat her, I learned quickly and soon she brought me a book full of words and explanations of their meanings. She called it a dictionary and with it I was beginning to learn to communicate, to speak the language which they called English, with the people around me.

Dr. Jordon came to see me more and more the longer I stayed there. He explained his position and mine. I was brought in to the ‘hospital’ by my parents about four ‘months’ ago. I had seen these words in my dictionary, a parent was someone who gave birth to you or someone who raised you and a month was thirty rises of the sun or a day. Did I have parents, I must’ve had them at some point or another to be living but I couldn’t remember them for the life of me. He told me that I would return to them at my home after one month of physical therapy. I awaited meeting the people who gave me life impatiently.

It seemed my life would begin anew from whatever it was before.

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