There was a small flat slab, like a computer screen, but you would touch it, there was no mouse. There was a slit on the side for imputing cash or a card. I couldn’t figure out how to work it for the life of me. People started murmuring in the long line trailing behind me. These people are very eager about getting their caffeine. Eventually the man behind me pushed his way to the machine and asked me
“Have you never seen an ipad before? who are you?” He seemed annoyed. He was a tall lean man, almost wiry. He had a messy mop of dark hair and warm chocolatey eyes.
“I’ve been in a coma for the past 20 years, and I’m Audrey”, I replied sheepishly. He looked dumbfounded.
“What can i get you?” he responded.
“Audrey and Jack” the barista called out. We grabbed them and retreated to the back of the coffeehouse. I sank into the big couch and started my story.
“When I was 13 I fell off the edge of a table and hit my head, really hard. I was rushed to the hospital and i’ve been in a coma ever since. At first it was medically induced until the swelling in my brain went down, but after that I just didn’t wake up”, I told him “well that is until a couple of hours ago.
“Wouldn't that mean you basically have the brain of a 13 year old?” he responded.
“Well yes and no”, I started, “See I could hear everything people said to me, I just couldn’t respond. I heard the nurses talking and gossiping, I heard the TV playing in the background. And I heard when my parents gave up on me and decided to stop visiting me, leaving me alone. Hearing your parents abandon you really helps you grow up pretty fast”. He looked sympathetic but also surprised or astonished.
“So you’re all alone, in a brand new world, confused?” he said confused.
“Basically” I muttered.
“Spend the day with me. I’ll show you everything you need to know”, he said, now excited. This seemed crazy spending the day with an absolute stranger. But I had no other options. I have no friends and im sure as hell not reaching out to my parents. I highly doubt they're even together today. I mean when the one thing left holding together your marriage falls into a coma the chances of things getting better are close to none.
“Okay”, I said, and I smiled.
The first thing we did was catch an Uber. Taxis were too expensive the man said. Apparently this was much easier. He explained it to me but I barely understood anything he said. All I got was that this is something called an “app” on something called an “iphone” and it’s a car service. The man clearly saw I was confused.
“It’s like a taxi anyone can drive”, he said, clarifying things. When the Uber arrived the car wasn’t bright yellow to much of my surprise. We got in the car and the driver had this strange music playing. It was like rap but everything was much faster and it used more vulgar language. The car was dirty, with garbage littering the backseat. It smelled of chips and cigarettes- a blend of aromas I haven't smelled since I was a child. My father was a heavy smoker.
“Do you have a beastie boys CD?” I asked the driver. He and Jack laughed at me.
“ No one uses CD’s anymore” , the driver said chuckling. I was quiet for the rest of the ride.
We got out of the car and walked around Times Square. It was even more overwhelming than I remember. It was so loud I could barely hear myself think. It was so bright, lit up with an array of marquis advertising shows, clothes, and brands. It was packed full of people, mostly tourists. There was an old Asian couple was taking pictures behind us. To our left we watched a woman struggle to keep up with three little children. You could practically see her stress. And directly in front of us there was a young couple speaking a language that was very foreign to me. I couldn't define it if my life depended on it. It seemed like gibberish. Jack began explaining different things as we went around. He was going to fast though. I didn’t understand a lot of the things he was saying. Everything around me was so different and was moving around so fast. He tried to explain to me modern language. “Lit” means cool, If something is relatable you say “same”, people say like almost every other word in a sentence. Like its like totally super annoying like I don't get why people like do that. New modern stores replace the old ones i'm used to seeing when I would shop with my mother. I wondered about Jack’s life when he was going on and on talking about something called a “Snapshot” or “Snapchat”. Does he have a family? Does he work? Why did he decide to help me?
“Audrey” he said “hello?” I snapped out of it.
“Sorry” I said “I get lost in my own thoughts a lot”
“I know the feeling” he replied under his breath. I began to ask him about himself and he quickly changed the topic, obviously avoiding the question.
He said, still shifty from my previous pursuit of discovering more about my mysterious tour guide, “I wanna take you to my favorite place”.
We took a train to a club in the lower east side. The music was so loud you could hear it a block away. There were flashing strobe lights and a booming bass. The door led to a big room packed with people. In the front there was a stage with a band singing a song I didn't know. I didn’t know any of the songs they sang. There was a staircase in the back that led to a bar. I could see the bartender flipping bottles with ease as a juggler effortlessly throws and catches pins.
“I’m gonna get us some water”, Jack said, leaving me alone in an ocean of people. I started thinking; everything was so different. I immediately felt like I didn’t belong. I began to get dizzy from all the commotion. The world is so different now, there’s almost no room for me. I don’t understand their music, their technology, their language, anything. I began searching for Jack, swimming through bodies, but i couldn't find him. I pushed through the crowd searching for him, or fresh air, whichever I could reach first, but all I could find was bathrooms and foreign faces. The room seemed endless, like it went on forever either way. Suddenly I was really light headed. So many sweaty bodies, flashing lights and, loud music. I managed to find the staircase to the bar but before i could ascend looking for Jack I dropped.
After being rushed to the hospital I realized something. The hospital was the same, I was in the same bed under the same blankets. They took me to the same room and told Jack almost the same thing they told my parents. It was all the same as when I first got hurt and went to the hospital. I was so focused on learning new things and the new way of life, when I should have been searching for the similarities that would make me feel at home. Jack was only trying to help but his 21st Century tour sent my brain into overdrive. But I’m thankful for his kindness. He waited at my hospital bed until the second I died. And the only thing I knew about him was his name.