Searching For Jim

1.

How do you feel?’

I blinked but refused to open my eyes completely.

I really did not want to as I felt warm and very comfortable where I was – that dozing moment before you wake up after a really good Sunday morning lie in.

‘Can you hear me?’

The persistent voice intruded so, at last, I opened my eyes.

A woman with shoulder length dark hair with lines of grey through it, smiled nervously at me, her eyes wide behind a large pair of black rimmed glasses. A gold chain with a small cameo broach hung around her slender throat.

She was dressed in a white coat with a stethoscope hanging from her neck.

She’s a doctor!

I’m in a hospital?

‘How do you feel?’

‘I’m…I’m ok – I…I think,’ I replied cautiously, blinking. Completely disoriented, I looked down – I was in a bed – and wearing a light blue hospital gown.

Definitely hospital!

For the first time, I noticed that there were others in the room. There were people in white coats standing behind the woman who had just asked how I was and I squinted to try to make them out. I thought they were all female, although I couldn’t see all of them.

‘Can you see?’

The woman doctor – I assumed she was a doctor – asked and her voice was concerned – soft and gentle.

I licked my lips.

‘It’s a bit blurry,’ I said softly, running my fingers through my hair, pushing it back off my forehead as I tried to gain an understanding of my surroundings.

What am I doing here?

What happened?

‘We’ll check your eyes later,’ the woman said. ‘Apart from that, how are you feeling?’

‘I’m…I’m a little thirsty.’

‘Of course.’

She turned and signalled to someone in the group behind her and a young woman hurried to pour water from a silver jug into a glass.

‘Thanks,’ I said, giving her an anxious smile. I took a long sip and the water tasted wonderful – crisp and clean.

I took another mouthful and, as I drank, I used the time to try to understand what had happened and where I was. My head was spinning and I was confused and a little frightened.

Did I have an accident or something?

‘Do you remember me?’

I turned and looked at the woman and stared at her for a moment. Seemingly, everyone in the room held their breath.

Was she familiar?

I searched my mind for an answer but found none.

‘No,’ I said after a moment, ‘I’m afraid, I don’t remember you.’

I sensed that my answer was disappointing to the woman as well as the group as I felt an inaudible sigh of disappointment rustling through them.

‘Am I supposed to remember you?’ I asked softly and the woman smiled brightly.

‘I’m Hester Scott,’ she said, carefully avoiding my question.

Again, she waited for her name to register. I blinked at her, wishing I could remember her name but I could not.

‘Sorry,’ I said, guessing they were waiting for my answer, ‘that doesn’t ring a bell either.’

‘Do you remember your name?’

It was a male voice from the back of the room and I squinted past Hester as a man stepped forward so I could see him.

A bald man – I think he shaved his head – in a white coat stepped forward. He was gruff and I saw Hester give him a little frown.

I tried to think and, again, everyone seemed to hold their breath – waiting.

‘No,’ I said at last, ‘I can’t remember. What has happened to me? Was I in an accident?’

‘Yes,’ Hester said brightly, shooting the man a warning frown, ‘you were in an accident but you are fine now.’

‘But…but I can’t remember anything,’ I stuttered, ‘I can’t remember my name! What has happened to me?’

Dangerously close to a full bout of tears, I sniffled against the back of my hand as the implications of my situation engulfed me emotionally. Hester moved quickly to slip an arm around my shoulders.

‘You have temporary amnesia…’

‘Amnesia? Do I really have amnesia?’

‘Yes…’

‘Temporary? You mean I’ll get my memory back?’

‘We think so,’ she said carefully.

‘I mean,’ I wailed, ‘I can’t remember my name! My name! Do you know it? What is my name?’

They all exchanged concerned glances. Again, they all seemed to hold their breath.

Hester said carefully, ‘it’s Norah.’

‘Norah?’

More glances and Hester seemed a little nervous.

‘Yes.’

‘Norah,’ I repeated, tasting it in my mouth. ‘No,’ I said after a moment, ‘it doesn’t sound familiar. Are you sure?’

‘Yes,’ she said, looking quickly around, ‘I’m sure it will become familiar.’

‘But…but it doesn’t feel right…’

‘Is there a name that feels right?’ Hester asked softly and I tried to think.

Something nudged the edges of my mind but I couldn’t nail it down.

‘No,’ I answered, ‘no other name. Norah sounds…I don’t know, different?’

‘I’m sure you will get used to it again in time,’ Hester said. ‘Now,’ she added in a bright voice, ‘I expect you’d love a bath!’

She turned and gestured to some women in pale blue uniforms who purposefully moved forward.

The bald man studied me for a long moment and then quietly left the room.

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