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And Then I Woke Up
And Then I Woke Up

And Then I Woke Up

ApurboSameen Abrar
1 Review

The same wall, the same stage. Nostalgia overwhelmed me. A typical high-school graduation. A day where sadness hangs heavy in the air. A separation of people from a place. Many years back, on such a day, I too was on that stage. After the speeches ended and the ceremony closed, so much happened in the glowing hours of the afternoon light. Outgoing seniors hanging out with their favorite juniors, the last gossip, the bi-directional flow of gifts, and an act of courage. I knew that it was now or never. That afternoon was my last chance to tell her how I felt. The girl I met last summer. The girl with the Mark, as everyone called it. Her left hand was covered with designs and markings, so intricate, it seemed nothing short of the touch of a devoted painter. And though nobody ever found her left hand that weird, I always could see those designs glow ever so slightly.

From a nervous question about my curiosity about her hand, one thing led to another. It wasn’t long before I found myself in love with her. But I never had the courage. Until the very last moment.

“Rhea!” I called out, heart in my hand.

The same walls, the same stage. But different people. Different ages. Now, the stage did not call for me. Most of the people in the room did not know me. Apart from two, my wife Rhea and my son, who’s on the stage giving the speech that we practiced the night before. Later that night, we had Remmy’s valedictorian party. All of his friends came. Most of his friends’ parents were our friends too. So, the night was festive. There was laughter, there was food and there was love. Life could not get any better than this and all of us knew it too.

The night deepened and one by one, all the guests left. Remmy crashed on the couch. The day was his but it still was hectic. Rhea managed to somewhat sort out the house and left the rest for the morning. I was almost ready to sleep by the time she finished her bath and came to the bed. She sat down on her side of the bed. I got close to her and placed my head in her warm and fragrant lap. Her favorite thing to do was mess up my hair and sure enough, she started to run her hand through my hair. The glowing lines of her hands periodically peeked from above my head.

For an instant, I felt something cold. But I was too sleepy to think about it.

When morning rolled over, I was pulled out of my sleep due to the cold. I was shivering. Before I could even think about why it was so cold, my eyes landed on her hand. I jolted up. Her hand was not glowing. The beautifully crafted lines were now a smeary mess and her eyes…..her bright eyes now resembled a dark abyss, staring into the unending nothingness. I tried calling out to her, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not speak. It felt as if something was choking me. My ears were ringing so loudly that I thought my head would explode any second.

My peaceful life was suddenly engulfed by utter chaos.

My body gave up. The white ceiling above was all that was left in my vision. I could not move, even if I tried to. Weird noises filled my brain. Humming, beeping, and whatnot. The air started feeling cold. I could feel my senses slowly coming back. The sounds started to become louder and louder, beeping faster and faster. It wasn’t long before strangers started flooding around me, some prodding, some pointing lights, some looking through heaps of papers. Everything started to fade as darkness crept up my vision. It didn’t take long before the noise faded away as well.

The next time I opened my eyes, there was a man sitting next to my bed. He seemed almost my age. His eyes lit up when he saw me and helped me sit up. Everything was so confusing. He introduced himself as my son.

“My son?” I was confused. His age would be no less than mine. “My son is Remmy. He just graduated. Who are you?” Now even he was confused.

“It’s me, dad, Jeremiah. Can you remember me?” His voice was full of concern. I was overwhelmed. “I am sorry. I can’t remember anything.” His bright eyes suddenly lost their shine. He got up and excused himself.

A few moments of silence was all I got before the doctor came in.

“Mr. Matthew, how do you feel?” he asked.

“Confused. I can’t wrap my head around all that is happening. Why am I in a hospital? Why is there a man my age claiming to be my son? Where is my wife Rhea? What about Remmy? Where is he?” Each word that crossed my mouth only made me panic even more. Even the name Matthew seemed unfamiliar to me. That was not my name.

The doctor crossed his hands. His eyes gave off the feeling that he was finally able to connect some dots. “Your reports have stabilized very quickly. Hopefully, you won’t have to stay here for long. Before leaving, he told the nurse to hand me a mirror and the nurse brought me one after a few minutes. When I held the mirror in front of me, I was greeted with a face covered in white hair and wrinkles, a face that resembled an old, withered man. Not the face of someone whose son had just graduated. This revelation completely defeated me. Any hope that I had of understanding my dilemma just vanished. They left me alone for the whole day, trapped in my own mind. I tried to piece together the puzzle, but the pieces seemed to belong to entirely different puzzles. The last moments of Rhea still haunted me. How cold she was, Remmy must be scared, his mother in that condition and his father nowhere to be seen. But I couldn’t even call him. No matter how hard I tried, I could not remember his phone number or the address of my house. Rhea’s number was also lost in my mind. The more I tried to remember, the more I seemed to forget. I could not remember my friends, their contacts, my address, Remmy’s school, or anything at all.

Later that day, Jeremiah came back. Seeing him brought me a sort of relief but I couldn’t pinpoint why. He had 2 bags with him. He had brought albums from his home. The albums contained pictures of me with my family. Pictures of our family. Birthdays, promotions, celebrations, anniversaries, trips to the beach. I saw Jeremiah in all the photos along with my wife and daughter, according to him.

“Where are they?” Up till this question, he seemed pretty happy.

“They um… did not make it,” Jeremiah explained, all of us had been in a fatal accident and only Jeremiah was the one to make it out relatively unharmed. That accident also put me in a coma.

“How long has it been?” I asked but did not want to hear the answer.

“25 years.” None of us knew what to say next. All I could think of was the fact that next week was supposed to be the 25th anniversary of our wedding. To think that there is a possibility that the 25 years I spent with the love of my life could turn out to be 25 years of dreaming inside a coma really frightened me. My heart could not accept this thought, but my mind could not reject it either.

“The doctors…” Jeremiah broke the silence,”they told me multiple times that you had uhh…unusually stable brain activity after the first few months of the accident.”

“So…it really was a dream?” I could feel my shattered heart choking my throat.

The lights suddenly went off. The moonlit night seemed in through the open window, distorted only by the glow of the several machines that were still attached to me. From the corner of my eye, I saw what seemed like the shimmering tattoos that I adored so much. But before I could look, the lights came back on. He followed my gaze, only to realize I was looking at a blank wall.

“You should get some rest.” He got up. I could not find it in me to look him in the eye. 25 years. He was all alone for 25 years, every day hoping that I would come back. I wanted to apologize to him. But I didn't know how.

“Go safely.” I said. He smiled slowly and left. His smile gave me hope.

The next morning, the nurse came in with breakfast. She handed me a parcel, wrapped neatly in blue paper.

“Your son told me to give it to you when you wake up.”

“When did he give it to you?” I asked, inspecting the parcel from outside the wrapping.

“Just a few hours ago. He was here all night. He might have given it to you himself, but he got a call and had to go.”

“I see……Thank you for bringing this to me.” She smiled and left after keeping the tray on the table beside me. I opened the parcel. It was a notebook. A soft leather-bound one. A note fell out.

“Use this to write everything down. Everything that you remember.” The note was signed by him. At that instant, a wave of relief passed through me. Jeremiah was indeed trying his best to make me feel welcome, to feel normal again.

Over the next two weeks, he visited daily and we would talk for hours. He told me everything he did all these years. He told me that my best friend Narib helped him finish school and that Narib would be coming to visit me once I was discharged. He showed me a picture of his fiance. Apparently, she said that she was very happy that I would be able to take part in their wedding. I also told him bits and pieces of the life I lived for the last 25 years. All the things I said only made him more curious about it. I could feel our bond getting stronger and it gave me hope that even after so many years, maybe it was possible for me to give him the love that he needed.

I was finally discharged. Jeremiah came to pick me up. As we drove back towards his house, he showed me all the places and what had changed since I was gone. The wind on my face felt great. Being out of that hospital room felt great.

This reality felt new and unknown to me. I was somewhat scared, not knowing what would happen next. A new life awaited me and I decided to go head first into it, with my son beside me and the tales of a life I never lived in my notebook.

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About The Author
Sameen Abrar
About This Story
21 Mar, 2024
Read Time
9 mins
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4.0 (1 review)

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