I felt like I was floating upward out of a black chasm. Slowly the void began to lighten, tinges of pink and red taking over the complete blackness. My eyes were closed. As I came aware of my body I felt soreness all over, my right arm throbbed, and the pounding in my head was near unbearable.
I lay in a bed. The smell of antiseptic filled my nose. The bed felt hard, not at all like my normally fluffy bed covered with thick soft quilts. It sounded like I was laying on paper or plastic under the cloth sheets as I tried to shift to a more comfortable position. I groaned in pain after the shift and I blinked my eyes open.
It took me a moment for my eyes to come into focus and look around the room. My body slightly propped up in bed with a beeping of a monitor to my left. My mom and dad were asleep in chairs in the corner and the lights of my monitors were the only thing lighting the room.
They looked different. My father had a bushy beard and my mother looked older with clear lines of stress across her face.
I then noticed a male nurse taking the pulse of my left arm, his head bent in concentration before he looked up with a look of relief and a slight smile. He seemed familiar but I had no idea why. He was a tall Indian man with light blue scrubs that appeared slightly too small for him. He straightened suddenly and left the room in a rush without a word.
I blinked a few more times to unblur my eyes while they followed him out the door. I tried to move my neck but it was held in place by something. I tried to lift my arms to my neck, but groaned at the stiffness of my body.
A woman walked in and stopped short when she saw me awake. She dropped the coffee in her hands and the crashing of the liquid on the floor woke my parents.
“Charlotte!? What the…” my father exclaimed as he jerked awake before he and my mother both looked to see where this woman looked.
My mother leapt to her feet and rushed over grabbing my hand.
“Don’t move” my mom said as she reached out to gingerly touch my shoulder.
I licked my dry lips and tried to ask the question “Where am I?” All that came out was a croaked, “Where?”
They looked at another. In the end my mother took a deep breath and said, “Honey, you were in an accident. You’re in the hospital, you’ve been in a coma for over a week. We… Your doctors…” A sob caught in her throat before she continued. “Your doctors didn’t think you would wake up. You’ve had no brain waves…We’re all so happy you woke up, you don’t even know…”
My eyes drifted as my brain tried to catch up. I saw my dad with his beard, he didn’t have a beard that I knew of. It was much more than a week’s growth. The woman clutched his hand, I did not recognize her.
“How long was I out?” I croaked.
“A week, honey, well, eight days.” my mother replied.
I was still having trouble focusing when the doctors and nurses burst in and started checking my monitors. The doctors pushed through my parents and one pulled out a light from her pocket and started shining it in my eyes. My parents and the woman backed away and looked on.
“Sarah, how are you feeling?” The Doctor asked as she quickly and efficiently poked and prodded me. “Can you speak?”
I tried to open my mouth but everything was so dry. I managed to get out a “Water?” The Doctor smiled and nodded to a nurse who disappeared for what seemed to be two seconds and reappeared with a cup of ice. She popped an ice chip in my mouth. I sighed in bliss as my mouth rehydrated. Once the ice finished melting, I tested my mouth with my tongue before trying to speak again.
Everyone looked like they’ve never been happier to hear someone speak as when I said those two words.
“That’s to be expected, Sarah.” said the Doctor, “The fact you woke up at all at this point is frankly a miracle, but it’s only the beginning of a long road ahead. I have a few questions for you and then I’ll leave you with your family for a bit while we gets tests set up for you. What is your full name?”
“Sarah Eva Sinclair.”
“Good, when’s your birthday?” She continued as she went on with her examination.
“May 18th, 1982.”
“Great, and who is the President?”
“Bush.” I looked around at suddenly worried faces. The Doctor had a flash of concern over her face then smiled again.
“What year is it?”
I looked around at the crowd of people.
My parents happy facade cracked.
“Is that not right? How far off am I?” I asked trying to look at the faces of my parents closer and started to realize how different the familiar faces looked. My father didn’t even have a mustache when I last saw him only a few weeks earlier, let alone a bushy beard. What I first took as tired lines on my mother’s face no longer appeared just from stress but possibly also age. My parents definitely didn’t have that much grey in their hair last time I saw them.
That’s when my Dad spoke for the first time since I opened my eyes.
“Sweetheart, it’s 2016.”