Day 22, 1st entry
They said they want me to write about waking up. I don’t want to. I hate writing. Writing hurts. But they want me to record how I feel, what I’m thinking. It’s a Grimm fairy tale, at least in my case.
Once upon a time there was a girl who needed to love too deeply for her own good. Naw, this is how it really happened.
Day 1: My eyes won’t open. Actually they will, but I do not want them to. Better that they’re closed. When they were open the last time, all I saw was the surface of the water speeding toward me, or rather me toward it. Me, speeding toward the end of pain. Me, making the emptiness go away. Me, pushing the silence away.
The sounds around me are anything but water; beeps and the occasional woosh combine with soft voices speaking almost in whispers, making them soft upon soft. I can hear them. I can hear them? I shouldn’t be hearing anything, except perhaps the buzzing that has been my constant companion for years, buzzing caused by the anti-anxiety/anti-depressive medication cocktail.
There is no buzzing. Just soft upon soft murmurs and the sound of monitors beeping and pinging. The sounds are so clear, my God, clear. I haven’t heard crisp sound in so long.
No guts no glory. Time to open your eyes, Sarah. Pop ’em open, yeah, like that.
Someone is standing over me, smiling. Or I think it’s a smile, I can’t really tell. It wavers, that face; is it a face? It shifts from two dimensions to three, then back again to two. Still it must be a face and that must be a smile. Too confusing, and I close my eyes again.
“Hello, Sarai” it says, words clear like bells. It knows my name, my name from before. “How do you feel now?”
I feel cheated, betrayed, but physically fine. “I’m fine, peachy” I say with my eyes still closed.
“Is that a good kind of fine, or a sarcastic fine?” The bell-like voice is smiling, the words ring like a melody. A teasing melody, actually. My mouth can’t help itself and it smiles, even if I don’t want it to. I have more control over my eyes, and they stay closed tight.
“Caught me. Sarcastic. Seriously, I actually feel pretty good. Expected to feel a whole lot worse.” My throat feels a little raw, dry. Something pokes at my lips: a straw. Just like a baby, I suck at it with the reward of a lightly sweet liquid, and my throat instantly smooths, my voice becomes less reedy, more steady.
“Do you know where you are?”
“Some hospital. University or Baptist General?” It’s harder now to keep my eyes closed. The part of me that wants to remain ignorant is quickly losing ground to the curiosity revealing itself like the layers of an onion. I peek under eyelids, a slit of light.
The walls are white, not cold, a warm white that I can almost taste. Not fruity, like the liquid, but creamy. Yes, the walls are delicious. The bell voice sounds again, breaking the synesthesia. The walls are simply white, but the shade makes me feel comfortable somehow.
“No, neither University or Baptist General. You are in place called the Resurrectory.”
“Resurrectory? Where is this, I mean, what state? What town?” It jars me to think that I floated down the river before someone found me. I hadn’t intended to survive that long. The plan was oblivion, not rescue.
“It’s not really a place, at least not the way you think. You have been resurrected from the dead.”
Well that’s amusing. I finally manage to successfully kill myself and I end up resurrected? I wait for the gaping maw of pain to swallow me, but it doesn’t. There is no pain and I don’t feel its absence.
“Do you understand that you were dead?” The face becomes a little more clear, more defined; I open my eyes a little further. The face shimmers, then fades into a regular, ordinary person’s face. Strangely, she looks like my third-grade teacher.
“My name is Belle, like the musical instrument. And you are Sarai.”
“I changed it to Sarah.” Hearing my old name causes a twinge of recognition, but only as if it were something belonging to someone else.
“So Sarah, do you know that you died?”
“Well, that actually was my plan. I have to tell you, I am surprised. Well, more than surprised. If there is such a thing.” My body is starting to cooperate, and I reach for the glass of liquid. Nope, not cooperating enough yet; I grab at it, clutch at air, and knock it over.
A slim pale hand catches the glass before it spills and competently sets it back in my line of sight. The matching hand takes mine, guides me to wrap my fingers around the slick plastic glass and to draw it closer to me. I sip. Funny, but I don’t see a real connection between the pale hand and the face. Also funny because it doesn’t seem important now.
Belle becomes more solid; her outline becomes more defined. Good, my eyes are starting to focus. She pats the covers, pulling them up to cover my chest. Oh my God I’m naked!
Calmly, she tucks the sheets around the sides and speaks, her words making more sense as I sip from the glass.
“The world as you knew it ended and was remade. Nearly everyone here, including me, has been resurrected. I was resurrected with Zoë, you have been resurrected with Bios.” She has finished tucking in the sheets and reaches into the drawer of the table beside the bed.
“Let me leave you this pamphlet. Read it and we can talk some more when I get back.” Glass put down, I take it from her hand, a slick three-fold in a soothing green. I’ve read the first paragraph before realizing that I’m reading without my glasses. Just one more surprise of the day, and I guess I’m going to get a whole lot more.
Belle wisps the hair from my forehead, pats my cheek, and seems to almost float out of the door. She moves, but doesn’t walk. Strange. I sense, rather than see, that she’s naked too, but I’m not embarrassed or titillated.
Zoe, Bios. I know Belle and I are different from each other, radically so. But Zoe and Bios? I read on with a hunger to know the truth, the words feeding the hunger but never quite satisfying it. I’m reading the pamphlet over for the second time when Belle comes back through the door.
“Do you have any questions the pamphlet didn’t answer?” She is suddenly back in the room, and I know I didn’t hear her footsteps.
“I have plenty of questions, tons of them. I just don’t know which to ask first. First, though, I want to get out of this bed.” Apparently I have indeed been resurrected, because my bladder is demanding attention. Belle helps me stand; I hook one hand over her shoulder for support.
Bios or Zoe, she’s still a nurse and instinctively understands where I need to go and what I need to do. She helps me walk the few steps to the bathroom, and I wave her away at the door. I value my privacy and this certainly is a time for it.
I sit and answer the call of Nature, pat myself dry, then rise to perform my ablutions. Hands washed, time to do the face. The mirror over the sink shows someone I used to know, know well, someone from years ago.
I’d forgotten that my hair was that odd shade of brown caught in midstream between blond and brunette. I grimace and show my teeth, for some reason not surprised that they’re all there instead of gaps on the side or worn out caps. My eyes, the source of my only facial pride, are clear and back to the golden brown that preceded the tired muddy hazel. No bags under the eyes, no blotchy patches on the cheeks from frequent crying. It is the best my face has been, ever.
I’m still horribly tall and still built like my dad, like a fullback. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore. My physical height and build are not important to me anymore, not a source of embarrassment. This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt self-acceptance, at least about my body. Wow.
It feels odd, but good, sort of like stretching a sore muscle to soothe it. No, it’s more like removing the bandage from a healed wound. Yeah, that’s it.
“I have some clothes for you here, and a hairbrush.” Belle calls through the door. Yes, my hair definitely needs to be dealt with; I’d forgotten as well that it was so thick.
Thick too are the towels next to the sink, and they smell wonderful, of sunshine and wind. I bury my face into one. She knocks at the door.
“Here, a brush and some underwear. I have jeans and a shirt out here as well.” I open the door a crack, and as she hands in the underthings, then the jeans and shirt; I wonder what size I’m getting, no, what size I am now. Whatever the size, the panties fit perfectly, the bra doesn’t bite into my shoulders; they match each other, and also match the other clothes. Someone knows it’s my private vice, matching panties and bra to my outer clothing.
The jeans look perfect as well, and the embroidered cambric shirt resembles my favorite shirt from before. Before. Before the pain.
“Do you need help getting into the jeans?”
“No. I’m fine.” This time I don’t curl sarcasm around the word. The clothes glide on like they were made for me.
“Do you want socks or do you want to wear your clogs without?”
She knows I only wear clogs?
“Without, thanks.” She taps at the door, and hands me a pair of clogs that coordinate with the shirt. “Would you like to go to your quarters now?” Belle looks up from making the bed. “We have quarters ready for you, if you wish.”
“Sure. Hey, um, is this real? I mean, is this really the Resurrection?”
She smiles like a mother comforting a child.
“Yes, Sarai, it is.”
I can’t help it any longer; I cry. I’m surprised because they’re not the painful, cold, bitter tears of sadness. My tears are of joy and thankfulness…and I can recognize them as such.
“Thank you. Belle. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Allons-y, my dear.” Her reference to my favorite character on my favorite sci-fi show causes a bigger smile to crack on my new face.
“After you, Doctor,” I quip.