Beep...beep...beep...beep. The sound echoed in my head, soft whispers soon overlapping. I fluttered my eyes open to an overwhelming brightness, slowly adjusting to this environment. I looked around and saw three women standing in front of me in deep conversation. The first had a white jacket with short hair and a short stature. The second looked older, some eye wrinkles with gray roots showing on the top of her black hair. The final one looked younger, maybe mid twenties, with matching black hair to the last: she’s the one that noticed me. A shocked expression took place of the serious one as she motioned to the other two. They all turned their attention towards me, the older woman with dark hair taking my hand into hers.
“Sweetie...how do you feel?” she asked me.
I stared at her, surprised by her affection. I slowly removed my hand from her grasp. “Uh, fine I guess,” I answered, then cringing as a pain shot through my head. “My head…” I mumbled.
“Headaches and migraines are normal after a concussion, they’ll last for about a week,” the woman in the white coat said. “I’m Dr. Ferris,” she introduced herself. “You’re currently in the hospital.”
“Concussion? Hospital?” I questioned.
“Yes, you faced a severe head injury earlier this morning. Do you remember what happened?” Dr. Ferris asked.
I shook my head in response, not remembering anything from before.
“When I was downstairs, I heard a loud crash from your room. I don’t know what happened, but when I got to your room you were lying on the floor unconscious,” the youngest woman explained.
“Why were you in my house?” I asked, unsure of why a stranger would be in my home.
The young woman looked confused now, glancing over to the older woman. “I was visiting the family.”
“Family?” I was still lost as to why she was in my home.
The three women grew quiet, exchanging looks as if they were having a silent conversation. The older woman finally looked to me, a worried expression on her face. “Do you know who I am?” she asked nervously.
I stared at her, trying to recognize her face but drawing a blank. I shook my head, “No. I don’t.”
There was more silence as the woman’s eyes became glossy. She looked to the other women, who seemed shocked.
The younger knelt down beside the bed now, looking at me. “What about me? Do you remember who I am?” she asked with a shaky breath.
“I don’t think so,” I answered. My mind was still blank, I hadn’t seen any of these women before.
“You don’t recognize me at all? Not even a little?”
I shook my head again, feeling bad from her devastated reaction. “I’m sorry,” I apologized, trying to help.
The woman in the lab coat motioned to the other women. “Let’s talk outside for a moment,” she suggested, then looking to me. “You wait here and relax.”
As the three women left, I tried to get comfortable. I squinted from the pain in my head, as if someone was pounding against the inside and trying to get out. I took a deep breath, keeping my eyes closed and trying to relax. Even though I had just woken up, I couldn’t help but feel tired again. I felt myself slowly drifting off, becoming consumed by the darkness.
I shot up from my slumber, overwhelmed by brightness. I covered my eyes, waiting for them to adjust before looking around. I was surrounded by white, but nothing else: no furniture, no people, nothing. I now realized I was no longer on my bed either, but rather the floor. I stood up, searching for something, although I wasn’t sure what.
“Hello?” I called out, the only response being the echo. “Can someone help me?” I asked hopefully.
“You seek assistance?” A voice spoke from behind me.
I jumped, letting out a squeal in fright. I turned around to see a boy about my age, blonde hair and bright green eyes. “Great! Another person!” I let out a sigh of relief.
“I am not a person, I am your mind guide.”
I gave him a strange look. “Mind guide?” I repeated, wondering if I heard correctly.
“Yes, but you can call me Jai,” he said with a smile.
“What do you mean by mind guide? Where am I? What’s going on?” I couldn’t help but spit out all the questions running through my mind.
Jai held his hand up to stop me. “Please, slow your speech as I cannot understand you. If I cannot understand you, I cannot answer your questions. If I cannot answer your questions, I cannot help you.” I stared at him, not in the mood to hear a speech but rather just needing answers. He stepped forward, cupping his hand around his ear. “Try again,” he suggested with a grin.
I rolled my eyes before asking my first question, “What is a mind guide?”
“A mind guide like myself does as the title suggests, help guide you through your mind. That is where you currently are. You are Bonnie Reese, correct?” I stood there, realizing I didn’t even know my own name. “You are, trust me, I know,” he answered for me. I felt so lost, how could I not know my name, and how could I be in my mind? “I sense you are still confused. Follow me,” Jai directed, walking to a door that blended into the wall with a small silver knob. He opened it, motioning me to walk in.
I hesitated, wondering if I should follow someone I don’t know to a place I don’t know, but what else did I have to lose? I wasn’t sure what I did know anyway, so I might as well follow someone who’s offering me help.
I made my way over, entering the new room. It was small and dark, and I could hear a faint sound. I furrowed my eyebrows, standing in the middle of the room. It was the beeping from the hospital.
“Recognize the sound?” Jai asking, walking up from behind me.
I jumped like the first time, turning to face him. “Stop doing that!” I scolded, then thinking back to his question. “It sounds like the monitor in the hospital.”
“That’s because it is. You may be here in your mind, but your body is still in the hospital.” I slowly nodded, understanding a little better now.
New sounds gathered mine and Jai’s attention, a voice being present. “Oh, it looks like she’s fallen asleep.”
“Is that normal?”
“Completely, it’s good for her to get some rest with her concussion.”
Jai looked to me now. “You should probably wake up, you’ll want to go home as soon as possible,” he said. I nodded, closing my eyes to wake up my body. “Oh! And try to ask a lot of questions, you don’t have much time!”
Jai’s voice faded as the beeping grew louder. I opened my eyes to once again find myself in the hospital, the same three women there.
“Bonnie?” the older woman called me. “Are you awake?”
I blinked a few times, answering, “Yeah.”
The woman smiled, “Great, we can go home.”
I sat in the backseat of the car, thinking back to what Jai said. Asking questions just seemed obvious because I couldn’t remember anything, but what about the time? Why didn’t I have much time? And how much time?
“Bonnie?” I looked up to the older woman who was driving. “I know you don’t remember much, but what do you remember?”
“I don’t remember anything,” I told her honestly. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t recall a thing. “Are you my mother?” I asked her, realizing this woman was taking me “home” and I still didn’t know who she was.
“Yes! Do you remember?” she grew excited, nearly jumping with excitement even as she drove.
“Uh...no, I just guessed,” I said, an apologetic tone as I felt bad getting her hopes up.
The woman...mother...sank back down into her seat. “Oh, well that’s okay. You will in time,” she assured me, although it was probably more for herself.
The younger woman turned around from the passenger seat. “I’m your sister, Clarissa,” she introduced herself.
“Clarissa,” I repeated, looking down and trying to remember. “And you’re older than me?”
She nodded. “By seven years, so I don’t live with you anymore.”
“Does the house look familiar?” mother asked as she pulled into the driveway.
I got out of the car, staring at the house. It was a nice house, large with black shutters and a surrounding black fence. There was a trail of flowers that lead up to the porch, where more flowers were, and the detailed glass door. It was beautiful, but not familiar.
“It’s okay if you don’t remember, maybe going inside will help,” mother suggested.
I followed the two of them into the house, the interior matching the exterior. I was amazed by how fancy it was, finding it hard to believe I lived here. “I don’t remember it, but it’s a really nice house,” I complimented.
“Do you want me to take you to your room? Maybe that will be more familiar!” Clarissa suggested, taking my hand and guiding me up the stairs.
When we reached the top, it was just one turn to the left and there was a door. Clariss opened it, a large gray room with a black and white embroidered border. A large bed, probably king sized, was positioned in the middle of the back wall with a white blanket. There was also a couch facing a flat screen on one side of the room and a desk on the other, while a dresser stood to the right of the entrance. There was another door as well for what I assumed to be for the closet. I then noticed the smell. It was different from the rest of the house; it was warm and sweet, like vanilla or maybe cinnamon, but also comforting.
“Is this familiar?” Clarissa asked.
I shook my head, stepping further into the room. “Not the looks of it...but the smell.”
“Oh, that’s your air freshener! Cinnamon bun, your favorite,” she pointed to a plug with a flower that was emitting the scent. “Maybe it’s a small thing that reminds you of home.”
I slowly nodded as I continued to walk. “Yeah...maybe…” I agreed softly. I stood in the middle of the room, taking everything in and trying to notice other small things.
“Well, if you need anything, you can just call for me or mom,” Clarissa said.
I looked back at her with a grin, “Thanks.”
Clarissa left and I sat in my bed. Of course it was nice and soft, everything in this house was perfect. I winced at a sudden sharp pain in my head, squeezing my eyes shut. Even with medication, there was a throbbing. I grabbed my head, lying down and taking deep breaths. I noticed how comfortable I was, sinking into the bed and becoming calm...tranquil...motionless…
I opened my eyes to the familiar white surrounding. I looked around for Jai, but just like the first time there was no one to be seen. I stood up, finding the door from last time and entering the next room. There weren’t any sounds this time, but I did notice an old tv on the back wall. I couldn’t see very well as the room was still dim, but I felt around for the power button. When I pressed, the room lit up and a loud sound from the static echoed in the room. I panicked, quickly turning it off.
I took a deep breath, my heart racing from the shock. I backed away, searching for something else and finding another door. I walked over, twisting the knob out of curiosity. Cautiously, I pushed the door open to reveal more darkness. This room had rows of clothes though, with rows of shoes beneath. It was like a closet. I moved through to find another door, opening it as careful as last time. As soon as it opened, the familiar sweet scent hit my nose: cinnamon bun.
As I peaked out, I recognized it to be my room. I walked out, looking around to find everything the exact same. Was I still in my mind? Did I wake up? “Hello?” I called, making my way out of the room. “Mother?” my eyes searched for someone as my ears listened for something. “Clarissa?” I was out in the hall, but there was no response. They said they would be here, and everything's so close to reality that it’s hard to believe it’s just my mind.
I walked down the hall, choosing a room and walking in. It was much bigger than mine, less furniture and more open space. There was a king size bed and two nightstands on each side, two dressers, and a tv hanging. As I gazed at the room, I noticed there was only one thing sitting on a dresser. I made my way over, finding it was an old VCR tape. I furrowed my eyebrows and picked it up, wondering what this would be doing out. There was a white piece of tape across it with writing labelling “Mom”.
“Exploring are we?”
I nearly dropped the tape at the sudden voice, turning around to find Jai. “Isn’t there a different way you can approach me?” I scolded, getting sick of him scaring me.
“I don’t mean to startle you, I only mean to help,” he apologized, sort of.
“If you want to help, then where have you been? I couldn’t even tell if I was in reality or my mind for a bit!”
“If you needed help, all you had to do was call for me,” she said, his hands behind his back.
“I did! Did you not hear me?”
Jai put his finger up, “No, you called for your mother and Clarissa. You never said my name,” he pointed out.
I glared at him, hating that he was actually right. “Well what are you doing here now? I still didn’t call for you.”
“You found a tape!” he motioned to the tape still in my hands.
“So?” I asked, unsure what that had to do with anything.
“Well do you know what to do with it?” he leaned back and forth. I stood there in silence as I had not gotten far. “That’s what I thought,” he nodded. I rolled my eyes, remaining quiet though so he could explain. “The tapes contain your memories of significant people in your life.”
“Memories?” I perked up. Was there a way for me to remember?
“Yes, this tape,” he took it from my hands and read the label, “is your memories of your mother.” Jai grinned, holding the tape out for me to take back.
“How do I watch it?”
“You have to go to the memory room.”
“Where’s the memory room?”
“It’s the first room I showed you. You play it on the tv that scared you earlier,” he said, making my face drop once again. Now he’s just making fun of me.
I walked past him, going back the way I came and into the memory room. Jai followed, taking the tape from me once again and putting it in the VCR connected to the tv. As he turned it on, he looked back at me and said, “I knew you wouldn’t know how to play it, so this saves us time.”
Ignoring his comment, I turned my attention to the tv. It started out with a younger looking mother, a stuffed horse in her hand that she moved around with a smile to the camera that was me. The screen then changed to her holding my hand, leading me to a playground. She ran around with me, pushed me on the swing, went down the slide with me, and overall had fun with me. I got this feeling, like nostalgia, as I watched. It was familiar, like a movie I had watched before. The screen changed again, and again, and again with mother aging as it went on. She comforted me, she helped me, and there were of course a couple arguments. Before I knew it, the tape ended.
I looked back at Jai who was standing with his arms crossed. “Is that it?” I asked him.
“That’s all of your memories with your mother,” he confirmed.
“But it was so short! It was, what, ten minutes?”
“Nine minutes and forty seven seconds to be exact.”
I stood there, wondering how all of my memories with mother could be played back in such a short time. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, thinking there would have been more. “How is that possible? I’ve been alive for...how old am I? Seventeen?” I checked with Jai who only nodded. “Seventeen years, with at least ten that I should remember, and that’s it? Why? Why is there not more?”
Jai sighed, stepping towards me. “There’s some things that I can’t answer. Things that would be better explained by someone else, in this case your mother.”
“Okay,” I breathed, closing my eyes.
“Wait, you’re going now?” Jai’s voice echoed until it faded to silence.
I opened my eyes, finding myself back in my room. I sat up, a knock simultaneously against my door. “Come in,” I said, softer than I meant to.
The door opened, Clarissa standing there. “Dinner is ready, are you hungry?”
I nodded, standing up and following her downstairs. The three of us sat at a round table, with only one empty seat. As we ate, I thought of how I could ask mother about our lack of memories. “Mother?” I gained her attention. “Are we close?”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Before my accident, did we have a good relationship? Open conversations, spending time together, did we have that?” I elaborated.
Mother set her fork down, thinking before she replied, “I’d say we had a pretty good relationship. As you grew older, I started working more so I wasn’t home as much, but we never had too many difficulties.”
“So we didn’t spend as much time together as I got older?”
“No, unfortunately. I try though!” she defended herself, clearly feeling bad. “I don’t want you thinking I don’t care, I’m just busy.”
“What’s your job?” I asked.
“I’m a lawyer,” she answered. I guess that explains why I had so few memories with her, and now that I think about it there were a substantial amount more from when I was younger. It also explains the fancy house and nice things.