Chapter OneI opened my eyes and then shut them again out of exhaustion. Wake up I told myself. I opened them again and struggled to keep them open, and in the end, I won the battle.
I looked around the room I was in and frowned. I was in a hospital. The walls were white and I was wearing a hospital gown. I heard beeping and looked over to see my heart beat on a machine. I reached up and touched the oxygen tubes in my nose.
Where am I?
I noticed there was a tiny Christmas tree in the corner of my room and there was garland and lights hung up everywhere. A snowman hugging Santa was hanging in the window. It’s Christmas? How could I not have remembered that?
A short, blonde nurse came in wearing purple scrubs. She saw I was awake and smiled. “Nice to see you awake. You gave us quite a scare.”
“What…” I was distracted momentarily by the sound of my voice. It was foreign to me. I had no idea who it belonged to. “What happened?” I finally asked. I could feel pain in my ribs and in one of my legs. There were large purple bruises everywhere on my body. And my abdomen felt like it was on fire.
The nurse smiled. “I’m going to page Dr. Marcello and he can explain everything to you.” She refilled one of the bags next to me and the liquid dripped into the IV tube I was wearing. I felt better almost instantly. “Thank you.” I whispered to the nurse. She smiled.
A very handsome doctor and a younger looking girl doctor came in wearing white lab coats and dark blue scrubs. The man’s brown hair poked out of a red surgeon’s cap and his blue eyes looked friendly. He had a drop-dead gorgeous smile and had a little stubble on his chin. I couldn’t turn my attention from him long enough to see anything about the girl doctor besides her dark red hair.
The male doctor put his hand out for me to shake and smiled. “I’m Dr. Luke Marcello and this is my intern, Dr. Sheila Boyce.”
I shook their hands and looked at him uncomprehendingly. “What happened to me?”
He sat on the bed next to my feet. “You were in a car accident. You broke a rib and your leg in three places. You also had some minor internal bleeding, but we got you into surgery and fixed the problem before it became a problem. You also got a pretty banged up head, but it was nothing that needed surgery. Of course you have a lot of scrapes and bruises, but those should heal quickly. Your rib and leg however…. Well, we are going to keep you here for observation. We couldn’t find an ID for you, so is there somebody you want us to call?”
I frowned. “I don’t know.”
He frowned too. “What do you mean? Don’t you have somebody you can contact in case of emergency?”
I shook my head. “I have no idea. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know my name. I don’t have any memories. I can’t even remember getting in a car accident.”
Dr. Marcello’s eyes widened. “Dr. Boyce…. Page Dr. Garner.”
Dr. Garner appeared to be a man in his late forties or early fifties. He was the brain surgeon at the hospital I was in.
“Dr. Garner,” Dr. Marcello said, “This is… well, we don’t know. That’s the problem. She has no memory of who she is or how she came to be here.”
Dr. Garner smiled kindly at me. “Should we call you Jane Doe?” He asked me.
I sighed. “I don’t know. I just want to be me. I want my memory back.”
Dr Marcello winked at me and looked at me closely. “She definitely isn’t a Jane Doe. She’s too special for that. Wouldn’t you say so, Dr. Garner?”
The man nodded. “She looks like a… Rachel.”
Dr. Marcello frowned and shook his head. “No, Rachels never have blue eyes.”
My apparently blue eyes widened. “They’re blue?”
The nurse grabbed a hand mirror from the bathroom and handed it to me. I looked hesitantly at the handsome doctor and he nodded encouragingly. I took a deep breath and looked into the mirror.
The face I saw could have been a stranger’s. The woman in the mirror had soft, beautiful features. She had baby blue eyes and pink lips that were the perfect size. Her hair was shoulder length and dirty blonde. It was caked in dark red blood, however, and the beautiful face was marred by bruises and scrapes.
I looked up and smiled. “No, not Rachel.” The doctors laughed.
Dr. Marcello put his finger to his lips in thought. “Hmm...” then he snapped his fingers and smiled. “I’ve got it. Your name is Grace.”
I raised my eyebrows and tested the name on my lips. “Grace.” It sounded beautiful. Then I looked at myself in the mirror and said it with more conviction. “Hello, my name is Grace.” I nodded. “Sounds right.”
Dr. Garner smiled. “Well then, Grace, I’d like to take a CT scan right now and see if there’s anything up in your noggin that we can fix. Sometimes, when people get too big of a bump on the head, it can cause part of their brain to close its doors and not let memories come out. Usually, it’s just a protective mechanism, but there might very well be some serious damage. We can’t know until we get the scan. Do you understand?”
I nodded. “I’m ready.”
The kind doctors wheeled my bed to the room. The nurse helped me onto the bed of the CT scanner and helped me lie down. I didn’t make a sound, but all that moving around hurt. I stared up at the ceiling as the bed began to move under the scanner. “Now, Grace,” Dr. Marcello said over the intercom, “try and keep very still, okay?”
“Sure.” I said, loud enough for him to hear. I stayed as straight as a board until the scan was over. The nurse helped me back into bed and this time, was the only one to accompany me to my room.
The nurse checked my charts and turned to me. “Are you in pain?”
I thought about lying, but decided this was my health and I’d better not screw it up. “Yes.”
The nurse smiled sympathetically and filled my IV tube with a clear liquid. Almost instantly, I felt my eyes drooping. “Good night.” The nurse said, with a smile in her voice, but it sounded far away. I blinked once, twice, and then drifted into blissful unconsciousness.
When I woke up again, I was relieved to have some memories of something, even if it was just about the handsome doctor who named me “Grace”.
Speak of the devil; Dr. Marcello came in with Dr. Garner trailing behind him.
“Feeling a bit better, Grace?” Dr. Garner asked.
I smiled sadly and shook my head. The men nodded understandingly. “Well,” Dr. Marcello began, “We checked out your CT scans and everything appeared to be normal. This is a good thing, but also a bad thing. It’s good because that means you don’t need surgery. It’s bad because we don’t know if this memory loss is temporary or permanent.”
I sighed. “So you don’t know if I’ll ever get my memory back?”
Dr. Garner shook his head. “Only time will tell. But we put your face out at every police station in a one-hundred mile radius. If somebody comes in looking for a missing person, it might be somebody who loves you.”
I hesitated and looked at the two doctors in the room. “What if nobody comes?”
The men looked at each other and then looked back at me. Dr. Garner put his hands behind his back and Dr. Marcello picked up my charts. “That isn’t going to happen, Grace.” Dr. Marcello reassured me, “We will search all over the continent if we have to.”
I lowered my head and looked at my slender, pale hands. Hands that somebody, somewhere have held and kissed and loved. Sighing, I nodded. “Okay.”
Dr. Marcello smiled. “Alright then. Well, I have a surgery in ten minutes. I’ll come and check on you before the day is over.” I watched him leave and bit my lip.
Dr. Garner followed my gaze. “Good looking guy, huh?”
I smiled and nodded.
Dr. Garner laughed. “Well, I have a surgery soon too. I won’t get to see you again today, but I’ll check in on you again tomorrow morning. Good night, Grace.” He smiled and left.
The nurse propped me up and took away one of my pillows. I stuck my lower lip out in a pout. She smiled. “I know, it’s not as comfortable, but it’ll help your neck. Is there anything I can do for you before I leave?”
I sighed and thought about it. “Can you wash my hair?” I asked sheepishly.
She took a look at my blood caked hair and nodded. She helped me into a wheelchair and she washed my hair in the bathroom sink. When she was finished, my hair looked shiny and healthy. I got in a position I was comfortable sleeping in and felt the meds flow through my veins. Satisfied for the moment, I drifted to sleep.
* * *
“Grace, you have to exercise that leg if it’s going to get better.” Dr. Marcello said as he held my arm, ready to pull me out of my wheelchair.
I frowned stubbornly. “But it hurts!”
He sighed. “I know, I broke my leg when I was a teenager. I hated walking around on crutches, but it did get better and so will yours.”
“Don’t you have a heart to fix?” I asked angrily.
He smiled and it took my breath away. “I cancelled my surgeries today because I knew you were going to be difficult.”
I sighed. “Fine. Help me up.” He lifted me up like I was a feather and I couldn’t help but feel like a little kid again. “My dad used to pick me up and swing me around in a circle when I was little.” I said as I limped with Dr. Hottie’s arm holding me up.
He gasped. “You just remembered something!”
“I did?” I gasped too. “I did!”
“What else do you remember about your dad?”
I frowned. “That’s it. You lifting me out of my wheelchair made me remember that one moment in my life, but I can’t remember what he looked like or what I looked like or where we were… just that it happened.”
He was still smiling. “That is a very good sign, Grace. Soon we’ll have to start calling you by your real name!”
I laughed. “Wouldn’t it be crazy if that was my real name?”
He smiled and his intense gaze made me shudder. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.”
I turned away. “So doc, how old do you think I am?”
He pursed his lips in thought and helped me turn back around so we could walk back to the wheelchair. I breathed a silent sigh of relief. “I’d guess around twenty to twenty-five.”
Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my broken rib. I sucked in air and put my hand on the wound. Dr. Marcello lifted me into his arms and walked the rest of the way to my wheelchair with me in a cradle. “I think that’s enough walking for today. We don’t want to overdue it.”
I nodded and felt another spasm of pain. “That’s probably a good idea.”
He set me in the chair and started to wheel me towards my room. “But you made very good progress today. I’m proud of you, Grace.”
I blushed. When we got to my room, he picked me up again and set me on my bed. He asked a nurse to give me some pain meds and she immediately went to work. I felt instant relief and I cuddled into my pillow. “So, how old are you, Dr. Luke?”
He sat on my bed by my feet. “I’m almost thirty. This year actually.”
I pretended to wince. “Ooh, old guy.”
He laughed. “But my soul will be eternally a twenty year old.”
I cocked my head. “I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
He smiled and patted my feet. “You really did do a good job today. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but there’s a purpose for this.”
I sighed. “All things work for the good to those who love the Lord.” I said, not knowing where that came from.
Luke smiled. “You’re a Christian?”
I frowned. “Yes, I am. I know that without a doubt. I wonder why that is.”
“Just because you lose your memory, doesn’t mean you lose your salvation.” Luke smiled. “It’s nice to know I have someone here to have deep philosophical discussions with. Most of the doctors here are Atheists, even Dr. Garner. They believe in science.”
I shrugged. “I don’t really know that much about it. Even when I had my memory, I don’t think I was very theological. I just know that I love God, he loves me, and Jesus is my Savior.”
Luke laughed. “That’s all there is to know.”
I smiled. Maybe I didn’t have my memory, but I had my God- and isn’t that all I really needed?
A week passed and no one came to claim me. My bruises were almost gone and I could move a bit easier with my broken leg. The broken rib was the only problem. It even hurt to breath.
Luke visited me many times in the day and we talked about our faiths. I remembered so much about the Bible, but it frustrated me that I couldn’t remember my family or my past.
An exact week from the day that the accident happened, the drunk driver that crashed into my car was brought in by the police. He was almost completely unscathed.
Luke was glaring murderously at the man when he arrived. The policeman that was handling him pushed him forward. He looked to be in his early thirties. The man was disheveled and looked like he had just slept in a dumpster. “This is Manny Walton. He was the man who crashed into you a week ago.” The policeman said.
I looked at him and immediately felt sympathy for the man. Obviously, something devastating must have happened in his life for him to turn to drink to find relief. The man’s eyes were swimming with remorse. I cocked my head and smiled sweetly.
“I’m so sorry, ma’am. I promised myself I wouldn’t drive that night and all my buddies told me not to… but I ignored them. Please, please forgive me.”
Luke was still glaring. “You don’t deserve forgiveness.”
“Dr. Marcello, I didn’t deserve forgiveness for my sins and yet God forgave me.” I said, not reprimanding but reminding.
He nodded and looked down at his charts.
“I forgive you, Manny.”
Manny gasped and a tear escaped from his eye. He came over and knelt by my bed. “Thank you, thank you. Thank you.” He whispered, kissing my hand.
I laughed and the sound was light and airy. I felt a deep peace and knew my Heavenly Father was pleased. I lifted Manny’s face so he would look me in the eyes. “Manny, in exchange for your forgiveness, I ask that you will give up drinking altogether and get some help.”
“It was my first time.” He defended.
I shook my head. “I don’t care. I don’t want this to happen to somebody else. And you don’t either. You look like a very good man, Manny. But you don’t need to drink.”
He nodded. “I will. I’ll give it up. I’ll be a good man- somebody a nice lady like you deserves.”
I smiled and patted his head. Then I looked at the officer. “What’s going to happen to him?”
The policeman took Manny’s handcuffs and helped him to his feet. “It depends on if you press charges. He’s going to stay another week in the county jail whether you do or not.”
I immediately shook my head. “No, I won’t press charges.”
The man shrugged. “Suit yourself.” The two headed out of the room and I smiled as they left.
Luke was glaring at his hands. “Are you dissatisfied?” I asked, slightly amused.
He knelt by my bed and met my eyes. I was mesmerized by the depths of them. “No, I’m dissatisfied with the way I acted. I wish I was as good a Christian as you. You see, I haven’t always been a Christian. It came pretty recently actually, about five years ago.”
I smiled and grabbed his hand. “Forgiveness is never easy. And I’m not perfect.” I frowned. “Something happened to me once. I was forgiven for something that was so horrible.” Then I gave him a care-free smile. “I haven’t had much trouble forgiving small offenses since.”
He smiled and stood up, kissing my hand and then letting it fall back on the bed. “I can hardly imagine a girl like you doing something that would be hard to forgive, but your right. Nobody’s perfect.” He took a deep breath and ran his hands through his hair. “I have a surgery soon, but I’ll come back after I’m finished.”
“You don’t have to keep me company; I know you’re a busy man.” I said.
“Actually I do. When I’m here, I’m not just your doctor, I’m your friend and brother in Christ. I have to come.” He patted my head like a little child and for some reason the action was dissatisfying. “See ya later, Grace.”
“Bye, Dr. Marcello.” I said. I was tired from working out my legs that day and was ready for bed.
“Call me Luke.” He said in a hushed tone, just before he shut the door. I watched him walk past my window and sighed longingly.
“Luke.” I tested it on my mouth. “Luke. My friend Luke. Dad, this is my friend Luke.” I looked around me to make sure no one was listening. Then I whispered, “Dad, this is my boyfriend Luke.”