That noise played on a never ending loop in her mind. She was sure this was how supermarket checkout assistants felt when they tried to sleep at night.
A light overhead flickered irritatingly as she tried to open her eyes. Why was everything in this room so irritating? There was a sharp pain in her left hand, as if a splinter had been jammed there for days.
What on earth was that infernal noise?
Someone really needed to change that light bulb, she thought as she squinted her eyes. All she was trying to do was get some sleep.
There were parts of her body that ached, some more than others. Some parts she couldn’t feel, which was disturbing. She tried to twitch her fingers, to wriggle her toes. But nothing.
Days and nights had no significance in this place. Time was a never ending entity. There was no concept of hours elapsing, minutes passing or seconds ticking. She thought back to another time in her life recently where she wished time could have stood still. She remembered being alone in a room, feeling very comfortable on a leather sofa and also feeling very content. But that was all she remembered. She was getting sleepy again and the flickering light blurred out of focus as her eyelids flickered closed.
She tried to open her eyes but they felt heavier than lead. She tried to move a hand to rub against her eyelids but that felt worse. A searing pain in her ribcage had forced her from her blissful slumber. Why was she feeling that sharp pang in her side? She wanted to cry out in agony but nothing would come from her throat. The pain forced her eyes open a fraction.
A face hovered over her. She couldn’t tell who it was. They blurred in and out of focus. They turned and said something to someone else nearby, but she couldn’t hear what they said. Their words were muffled as if someone were holding their hands over her ears.
Sleep reclaimed her soon enough and the mumbling disappeared.
She awoke sharply with the pain in her side. Her head felt dizzy and confused. She wanted to sit bolt upright and cry out but her body failed her. Still the light flickered on overhead. Didn’t anyone ever turn that thing off? A face appeared over her own again. No features came into view. They spoke but their words were still muffled. Something told her there was feeling in her hand. Someone was holding hers. Maybe it was the face she could see. Exhausted, she closed her eyes again.
Mumbling. Why was everyone always mumbling in this place? Why couldn’t she hear them properly? Their hushed voices, saying words she couldn’t understand, kept rousing her from her sleep. It was happening more and more often. She knew soon enough the fog would wear off and she would have to face the world.
Faces. Another one was peering over her as she opened her eyes. She recognized this one. But she didn’t know how. She knew it from somewhere but her confused memory failed her. She wanted to reach up and touch the features that were so close, but her body failed her again.
Who was that?
Again. The face was there again.
There was something so familiar about it, but she just couldn’t put her finger on it. Darkness.
That’s what was recalling in her memory.
Darkness of the person’s hair and features.
The hair was so very dark. And the eyes too.
Who was that?
She was hearing things better. Finally, words were turning into sentences. She could hear them without having to open her eyes and struggle to make sense of what was happening.
“He’s here?” a voice asked. Female, she decided.
“Yes,” answered a male.
“Does she know?” asked the woman.
A sigh came from the man. “I don’t think so.”
The face was there again. Why wouldn’t it leave her alone? Every time she opened her eyes, it was there, peering over her.
Words were no problem to her now, but faces were still an issue. This one still wouldn’t come.
But so familiar?
She smiled as she opened her eyes. Things were finally beginning to make sense now. She could hear clearly and the blurry outlines that were once only shadows of people were beginning to become clearer.
“Mia?” a voice asked, “can you hear me?”
She smiled as she recognized the voice. She opened her eyes and the outline steadily focussed into a familiar female face. The quiff of hair that was usually so quirkily styled looked ruffled. She smiled and the woman laughed.
“She knows!” she cried out.
Mia closed her eyes again to the sound of a low, male voice in the corner of the room.
“Hey, sweetie,” a soft, familiar accent cooed in her ear.
The accent sounded different from all the others.
The sound of this voice made her think of green fields and gentle music.
Ireland. That’s what the voice reminded her of.
“Niamh,” she croaked out. Her voice sounded horse and alien, as if unused for a long time.
“I’m right here, sweetie.” Niamh’s soft accent sounded close in her ear and a familiar hand curled around her own. “There’s people waiting to see you,” she whispered. “You can’t sleep forever, you know?”
Mia’s face creased into an unfamiliar smile. That was a sensation that felt alien too.
“There’s my girl,” Niamh’s voice sang, “come on, sweetie, wake up. We all want to see you.”
“I’m trying,” Mia croaked out.
Niamh sat with her for a long time, patiently talking to her as Mia tried to open her eyes. They closed again and she would try to open them again. Eventually, she could hold them open and focus on the room around her. She was propped slightly upright in a hospital bed. The beeping noise was coming from the numerous machines that whirred beside her. The damned fluorescent bulb overhead was still flickering. There was a long needle inserted deep into her left hand with a tube that ran to an IV drip beside her. So that was why her mind was foggy. Medication.
“How are you feeling?” Niamh asked as she handed her the paper cup of water from the nightstand.
“Like death,” Mia croaked.
At those words, Niamh’s eyes misted over and a tear quickly ran down her pale face. She managed to squeeze her hand.
What had happened? It must have been bad.
The door to the tiny hospital room cracked open and a figure stepped through it.
“No, no, no,” Niamh called out, “not yet!”
He was here.
The darkness she had been seeing. He was there, standing before her.
His dark hair, his dark eyes.
Everything about him seemed dark. And strange.
Who is that?
© 2017 by Melissa Speight