I feel a heavy throbbing in my head that gets unbearable by the second. I open my eyes, but everything appears to be pitch black in what looks like a tiny room. I seem to be surrounded by walls on all sides. I try to stand up, pull open the curtains right above my bed spread. The sudden gush of light blinds me. I try to shield my eyes, waiting for them to adjust. I give it a minute before I start to ponder over some unanswered questions. Where am I? What am I doing here? Who am I?
The room is cluttered with rubbish. Old antiques, pictures of famous buildings, takeaway boxes strewn around. I see a single bed near the wall, the one that I inhabited a few minutes back. The sheets were brown with layers of dust collected over many years. Springs were popping out of the mattress that seemed to have taken my shape, permanently. There is a clock on the wall, but it has stopped at ten fifteen. I don’t know if that’s the right time, and I don’t know what day or year it is. Talk about losing time.
I study the far wall and see a single door standing out. I am curious as to where this might lead to. I might just sit here doing nothing, but I have to clean myself.
I grab the doorknob and twist it ever so slightly. The knob clicks, but the door doesn’t budge. I see the door is jammed, and I have to give it a slight jerk to force it open. It relents. I pull the door to myself, not knowing what to expect on the other side.
I see a calendar, pinned up to the wall. It has bold, block letters that can’t be missed. The calendar is set to May 2013, with the first five dates canceled out. I see a felt marker tucked at the top of the calendar; I pull it out and mark the sixth. I know what this means. Today is the sixth day of May. The year is 2013. Quite a weird way to find out.
I continue to look around. On the right, I see a wall with myriad pictures, wall hangings, newspaper clippings and colored paper tacked up with words scribbled on them. Like a freaky storyboard. I see a mirror at the far end of the wall; I run towards it to get a good look of what I might look like. Why don’t I know what I look like? The question gives me a headache. I see a middle-aged man looking back, ragged, flaunting what looks like a three-day stubble. I’m wearing a plain, deep blue t-shirt that has no markings, on top of light blue shorts. I have a scar on my forehead, a remnant of a deep bruise; a reminder of some sort of serious injury. I look into the mirror and see the reflection of a sign on the other wall, written boldly in red. I look back and study the marking that says “Start here”, just above a bunch of pictures. What next? The sign is pretty obvious.
I come across a series of pictures, neatly arranged and numbered. Like a sequence; a photo album made up in space that occupied on the wall. The first picture is labeled “John”, and I see a younger and brighter me looking back, smiling away. My name is John. I search for and find the date the picture was taken; some day mid 2002. Maybe there were clues of my life strewn around in the rest of the pictures. I walk around the wall studying each of the exhibits. A bizarre exposition of my life.
A picture of my family followed. I have a mom, dad, and a kid that looks like me. Maybe a brother. The picture says “Mom, Dad and Steve”. Steve. Doesn’t ring a bell. A picture of both of us at graduation, taken sometime in 1995. Too many faces and dates followed. I get ahead of myself and walk towards one of the newspaper clippings. The date reads November 12, 2007. The photo shows a car crash; a red wagon mangled and engulfed in flames, what was left totally unrecognizable. The headline reads, “3 dead, 1 injured in horrific car crash at Easton”. I continue to read, realizing that the one that survived was me. I couldn’t hold back tears realizing that the family I had just found was no more. I felt empty, alone, helpless. And I still didn’t know where the hell I was.
I kept reading and found out some facts about myself. That my name was John Keaton. I was 30 years old, and this was my house. I’d lost everything in a car crash a few years back; my family, my job, my memory. A little more reading unearthed the fact that I’m unable to retain anything more than a day’s information. My mind is a clean slate every morning. Like a crazy hangover that lasts a lifetime.
Imagine walking through a door, only to rediscover your life. Every day. I could think of it as a nightmare put together by the various puzzle pieces I left behind for myself to find. Or as a brand new start without any baggage. The choice was mine and only mine to make. The fact that I’d survived meant a lot. I think I’d made the right choice today. To continue down the path of hope.
I see the last piece of yellow paper tacked to the wall that says, “Tomorrow never comes”. As if I’m going to remember tomorrow.