Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PUZZLE (11/24/16)
TITLE: To Awaken
By Hannah Gaudette
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It comes together, drifts apart, like magnets too weak to stick when pressure is applied. I hear things. At least, I think I do. Nothing is one. All is broken. Scattered. In pieces.
She'll pull through . . .
Was that something? It sounds voice-like. Another human. I'm not alone.
The pieces converge, lifting my hopes, then diverge, dashing my anticipation. Confusion invades my soul. What is this madness?
“We should be grateful” - a voice! - “that she's even alive.”
What are those words? I fail to identify them.
A new voice, this one harsh and cold. “Why hasn't she woken up?”
No, that's not the sound of harshness. It sounds more like . . . sadness! Yes, that's it! The voice is sad, lonely. I want to reach out. I want to give comfort. Why can't I move? Why won't the pieces stop floating? I am underwater.
“Alison, can you hear me?” A new voice again.
Alison . . . That's me, isn't it? I groan. The pieces around me match the swirling of the disjointed fragments within my mind.
“Mom?” There's the sad voice.
There. I've done it. My eyes are open. The world writhes, but I dare not close my eyes again, for fear they will never open. The voices drone on, and I tune them out. I'm surrounded by white. White above, below, moving to and from my side. What has happened? Is somebody hurt? They all seem so alarmed.
“If you can hear me, I want you to lie still. Do you know your name?”
What a peculiar question. I answer the voice.
The face appears above me, gray and weathered and strong. “All right.” His gaze moves to my other side. Why am I lying down? “Do you know who this is?”
I turn my head. It's a young face, but not a child. Concern in bronze eyes. Disheveled hair of ruddy colors. He looks at me like he's known me forever. But I know him not.
“Who . . . are you?” My voice is so weak. I feel stretched taut in every crevice of my being.
The bronze eyes turn fearful. “It's me, Caleb.”
“Alison,” the first voice arouses sleepily, “you were in an accident. Do you remember what happened?”
My brain rolls bits of memory back and forth. What did I do before I fell asleep? Why have I woken in this strange place? Why is my mind so lost? “I was . . . baking cookies. There's a party at . . .” Where? Where? “My sister, she . . .” God, help me!
My eyes slide closed. I listen to the voices.
“That was when we were kids. The Halloween party at her sister's, that's what she remembers.” The sad voice is nearly at the point of weeping now.
Nothing makes sense. Nothing converges anymore, only remains diverged. I hear footsteps. I hear sobbing. I cannot understand them. Why do these people say such things? Where is . . .
Jack! I remember now! The young man beside me, the sad one. I force my eyes open, though it is like pulling teeth. I must reassure him.
The sad one is still beside me, though the others have gone. “Jack . . .”
The sad one looks up from the place he kneels.
“Jack, what happened?”
“Y-You were in an accident. Jack – Dad – is gone.” His voice ebbs away in more tears. “Your memory . . . Do you know who I am?”
Relief courses through my bloodstream. “Jack, I'm sorry. I remember now.”
My husband, the sad one, shakes his head. “No, Mom. I'm your son. Can't you . . .” He shakes his head again, bitterly. “Mom, remember me, please. I'm your son. I'm your son . . .”
“Oh, Jack, please don't cry. I know. I remember.” I remember. Thank You, God, I remember!
The sad one walks away. As he does, I see a mirage. A shadow. Something isn't right. The pieces don't fit together. Another name . . .
“Caleb . . .”
He turns back to me as if I just called him by name. My son.
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