Eddie woke up.
He was in a hospital. This factor wasn’t too shocking. He’d woken up in hospitals plenty of times, both as a child and as an adult. Whether it was sitting in the ER, hunched in a chair in a hospital waiting room, or lying on one of those stiff beds, he was used to the setting.
But he was also used to knowing why he was in them. Right now? He couldn’t remember a thing.
“Good to see you’re waking as expected Mr. Kaspbrak. Please, acknowledge you can hear me.”
Eddie slowly blinked. The spots from the bright lights faded a bit more. He turned to his right. The repeated exposure to doctors at an early age meant the sight was usually a comfort more than anything. They always knew what was wrong. Yet for the first time, Eddie felt he didn’t need to see the woman. He didn’t need a doctor right now. He needed to…to…
“Very good Mr. Kaspbrak. Do you know where you are?”
He almost shook his head. Better to not strain his voice. He didn’t know what was wrong. What if he hurt himself and ended up damaging his vocal cords? Or what if trying to speak was the safer option and shaking his head wasn’t? Maybe the doctor wanted that. He could have hurt his spine. Shaking his head would just—
Something trickled forward. Memories leaked through the crack. It wasn’t enough to break the rock wall, but Eddie could feel them sliding down, pooling in the base of his brain. The usual overthinking and worry was still there. He certainly couldn’t get rid of every statistical probability he had learned. However, he suddenly realized he didn’t care about those numbers as much as he once had.
Regardless of the potential damage, or the fact Eddie didn’t even know why he was there, he spoke anyways. “A hospital. Can I have some water?”
His voice was a little hoarse, but not ridiculously so. It sounded as one sounds when waking up from a particularly long nap or deep dream. It was ruff, but Eddie could already feel it clearing as he swallowed.
“Of course. Let me grab a nurse.”
The doctor was only gone for a few seconds before coming back. As they waited on the nurse, she asked a few more questions. “Do you know your name?”
“Edward Kaspbrak. But my…my friends call me Eddie.” His friends…
“And can you tell me where you live?”
The questions kept coming. They were fairly standard, meant to establish how aware he was of himself and his surroundings. He seemed to be answering them all with flying colors, right up until the end.
“Now. Do you know why you’re here?”
By now, a nurse had brought him his water. He sipped at it through the straw. He should know this one. It was connected to everything. It had to do with this new lack of fear. The fact he didn’t feel the need to focus on probabilities or why he wasn’t more worried about waking up in a hospital. Really, he just felt thankful he’d woken up at all. All this was because of it. It…It…
The memory was right there. He could feel it trying to slip out. The doctor spoke before it could.
“It’s alright. No need to strain yourself Mr. Kaspbrak. It’s normal to have amnesia of a traumatic accident like you experienced. There’s a chance you may never fully remember.”
“But remember what?” His voice felt a little easier now. He tried to push himself up a little. “What was it?”
Right. It. Every time he thought that word, it became stuck again. The trickle of memories attempted to grow. It was all to do with It. It wasn’t nothing. It was something, a thing with a capital ‘i’. A feeling, an event, a memory—
“You were in a car accident.”
That didn’t sound right. And that thought in and of itself shouldn’t have felt right either. He rarely doubted doctors, but he doubted what this one said. Not to say she wasn’t credible. But he somehow felt more sure of his own thoughts and feelings, even if he couldn’t fully unlock them now. He didn’t get a chance to explore those thoughts though as the doctor began talking again.
“I must say. It’s the most remarkable accident I’ve ever seen. You ran into a construction truck. The odds say you should have been skewered alive, but you only got pierced through your chest, missing almost all vital organs and your spine, along with a cut on your cheek. I mean really. It’s like the kind of miraculous comeback you see in some movie. I would have expected at least severe bruising. At the most, a hundred broken bones. Yet here you are.”
“Here I am,” Eddie murmured. He was alive. After being skewered…and a cut on his cheek…
A little strength had returned after being awake for a bit along with the much needed water. He pushed himself up again. His hands first felt at the clean bandage on his cheek. There was only one. His fingers found no signs of other bandages, nor any cuts or slightly swollen areas in need of treatment. If what the doctor had said was right, it really was a miracle Eddie wasn’t cut up more. But that description didn’t feel right. It wasn’t the reason. It was the—
He carefully took the hem of his hospital robes. He pulled them down but only saw bandages across his midsection. At least it didn’t feel like he had a hole in him. The doctors must have already fixed most of it.
“I’d suggest keeping it covered. We’ll change it when it’s needed, and it might be good to have a physician with you when you first see it. That level of scarring can be a little much for a patient to take in on his first time.”
Eddie nodded in understanding even as his eyes stayed glued to his own chest. He kind of wanted to tear off the bandages then and there. Maybe it would tell him what had really happened. Why It was so important. Of course, exposing the area too soon could be risky. But that usual fear wasn’t there. It certainly wasn’t as big. He felt like he could breath. He could breath for the first time because It…It was truly…
“And if you’re up for it, you already have a visitor.”
The words pulled Eddie from his thoughts and the wound on his chest. He dropped his hands and looked up. Excitement began to build up. He had a suspicion of who the doctor was talking about. He felt young again at the mere thought. He nodded, giving the doctor permission.
The flow of memories got a little heavier.
The people would come in. Everything would make sense. Eddie would understand why he felt he could finally breath, why he felt like smiling. His friends—
“Jesus Christ Eddie! I can’t believe they let you sit up like that. You need to be lying down this instant. What if you strained yourself? What if you moved your bandages? I mean really? How could you be so careless?”
Disappointment hit him in his chest. He slumped down merely from that, even while at the same time he was basically being manhandled so he was fully lying down again.
“Ed? Eddie, you do recognize me, right? The doctors said your amnesia would only affect your memory of the accident, but I knew it could be much worse. Which speaking of, I warned you about your driving. If you had just listened to me, you would be alright. How many times do I have to say that? Just listen! And I bet they’ve been making you talk too much too. What if your vocal cords—”
“Myra. I remember,” Eddie replied, if only to shut her up for a second.
“Well then why didn’t you say anything? Were you trying to worry me for no reason?”
As Myra continued on, Eddie looked for any chance of being saved by the doctor. However, she had already left the room. Next, he looked for something more. He looked for the reason why his heart had felt hopeful, momentarily lighter. He looked for friends…
But the room was empty except for him and his wife. His mind tried to solve what had happened, but it was impossible to finish a clear thought as Myra continued to berate him from his bedside. The only defense he could muster was sinking down deeper into his bed as he hoped he would later find some reprieve in his dreams.