I’m far far out. Here there is no light or sound. No pain or pleasure. Nothing at all that I can sense. No I to sense. Just black. Floating in outer space without a single star to gaze upon. No consciousness to desire to gaze. My eyes open and I’m hit with shifting light. Unable to clearly see the faces that are speaking to me, I settle on colors instead. Blue. Yellow. Fluorescent lights beam down from above. Figures are on either side of me as my body is being rolled through a room. Focus, Lawrence, Focus. I struggle to make out anything around me as I listen. “Where are you right now?” The hospital, I respond. “Is your name Lawrence?” Yes. “Where were you?” I pause. I can’t remember. Just black. Black.
My shirt is off and probes are being taped to my chest to get a picture of my heart’s rhythm. From a monitor above, I can hear my heartbeat. “He’s bradycardic,” says a woman I still can’t see. The monitor screams when my pulse becomes lower than it likes. A team of people surround me asking more questions. Black.
My eyes open and only one person is here now. I look down at my half naked body, wondering whose underwear I’m wearing. “Are these mine?” I ask. The woman says yes in a confused tone. They look so strange. Twisted and rolled-up in an odd manner. I then notice the thin tiny socks I have on and ask if they’re the hospital’s. “No,” she replies. I don’t understand. My head, so heavy, flops back onto a thin pillow. As I drift away, flashbacks begin to shoot through my mind, allowing me to live two time periods at once.
I’m in bed with a man I don’t know, accepting a drink that is strangely warm and alien to my tongue. Oh my god! Oh my god! OH MY GOD! I moan, aware that something inside that I can’t control is taking over. I’m being dragged down a hall and into a bathroom. The stranger is calling out my name repeatedly, but I can’t respond. I’m locked inside a body that is no longer mine. Cold water shoots down from a showerhead. I scream from shock and try to back away. So cold. I begin to shiver uncontrollably. Teeth chattering. A woman in white approaches and places a blanket over my body. I’m naked again in a tub. Vomiting. Men and women enter the bathroom and take in the frail wet body. Garbled voices call out, but I can’t make out the words. I fade out. The sensation of floating is felt and I’m outside. Brick buildings and vehicles. Night sky. People are here, but I still can’t see their faces. Can’t hear their words. Lights flashing. Instinct kicks in as I try to take control. I breathe deeply through pursed lips like I do while running. Pushing myself towards my goal. I breathe, struggling to fight through the haze that keeps consuming me and drawing me back into unconsciousness. Just breathe. Breathe! Black.
“Why are you crying?” a woman asks. I don’t respond, realizing I’m back in the hospital. I’m crying in the time before, I want to tell her. I can hear my heartbeat again. It sounds so far away. How did this happen? How does this fit into my story?
The exhaustion of living two times at once overcomes me and I begin to let go. To no longer struggle for breath or a normal pulse. I stop fighting and allow the muscles and mind to release. The cold goes away. I drift and shift into a space where there’s just light, warmth, and calm. It’s so wonderful. Love. My eyes open, afraid. I tense my body and fight back the feeling. A feeling I fear would equal death. But I’m tired, I tell myself. I’m okay. I can let go. I’ve done my part. I can die now if I’m supposed to. I release my body and let go again. The white warm calm returns and everything goes quiet.
When I awake, the thought, “You’re not going to die, silly,” enters my mind. There is a tone of playful joy in the voice. My body feels like mine. Moves when I tell it to move. I can take in the room around me and clearly see the men and women working. Some man is screaming “Oh my God!” continuously off in the distance and a woman is telling him to shut up. A nurse looks over and sees that I’m awake. She calls for the doctor. I’m back.