The first time I wake up, I am confused. Because I shouldn't be waking up. At all. Because I am pretty sure I had died. Except that I am much too uncomfortable to be dead. There is something stuck down my throat, making it a little too difficult to breathe.
It is weird. I had not thought I'd survive that gunshot to the head, but the noise from the monitors, and the voice on the comm system inform me that "Dr. Smith you're needed in Ward B." I'm quite confused.
"Mom?" I try to ask through the tube obstructing my oxygen.
Someone answers, "Sweetheart?" Only that's not my mom's voice.
"Mom?" My voice turns higher in pitch because I'm in a bit of a panic. Where am I? Where's mom? Why isn't she answering?
"Annie, it's alright! Mommy's here."
You're not mom. That's not my name. You're not my mom! My mom has an accent! My name is - my name is - I know my name isn't Annie!
"Mom!" The monitors are having a little bit of a field day, beeping irregularly and telling the world that my heart is beating faster than normal.
"It's alright Annie." Whoever this woman is, not mom, she's crying. I can't figure out why. But the woman is holding onto my hand and sobbing as nurses swarm around me, holding me down, trying to calm me down, demanding a sedative. The machines are even rattling, as if in agreement that I just need to get out of there. Why do they need a sedative? Just let me out or get me mom - my real mom!
My last coherent thought isn't finished. My name is -
The second time I wake up, I'm not as much in a panic. For one, the tube is no longer clogging up my airway, and I am able to take betterstock of my surroundings. I'm in a private hospital room filled with cards that look as if they were made by eight year olds and balloons that look as if they're for a child. I'm still confused, though. I can't remember my name.
I turn to a woman that is rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She's pretty, in a way. But she's not mom. And Annie's not my name.
"Who are you?"
So, maybe it wasn't the best thing to ask that woman, because she immediately starts crying.
"Mrs. Simon?" Asks a nurse that had just walked through the door with a tray of what I assume is medicine - or maybe more sedatives.
"She can't remember! She doesn't know who I am."
I almost feel bad, because this woman is in tears. The nurse gives the woman - Mrs. Simon? - a sympathetic look, and pulls her aside to talk. I can still hear, though.
"It happens sometimes. It was a head injury that caused her to go into the coma in the first place. It's probably retrograde amnesia. She may get her memories back, but there's no guarantee. The best thing to do at this point would be to be patient with her."
Mrs. Simon spends a good five minutes trying to calm down, wiping the tears from her eyes.
I'm not really sure what to say as Mrs. Simon sits down again, so I repeat my question.
"Who are you?"
"I'm. . . I'm your mother. You're my . . . your name is Annie Simon. You're ten years old. And you're my daughter."
Wow. Every single word that woman just said was wrong.
Because it has to be. My mother is most definitely not this woman. My name is . . . well it isn't Annie Simon, I know that much. And I am a grown woman, twenty two years old and counting.
Only, as I looks down to my hands that look too small, I notice my chest - or lack of one. It's a bit jarring. I'd been quite proud of it.
I look back at the woman, studying her face - it's pretty open and raw and everything that a mother's face should be when you're trying to convince your child that you are who you say you are.
And a small part of me wants to believe Mrs. Simon. She must have really loved her daughter.
So I answer, "okay" and pick up the woman's hand. "Tell me more, please."
Annie Simon - I'm trying not to think of her as me - had been in a coma for a year after the accident that took her father's life.
It had been a drunk driver - "Mr. Luthor, he's paying for your medical bills, now that bast- sorry" - in the middle of the night and paramedics were a bit swamped because of some reason that Mrs. Simon refused to get into with her ten year daughter. The car - for some reason, I was imagining a silver Lexus, probably because the driver was name Luthor, and the arch nemesis of Superman was all that my brain could conjure up - had to swerve five times because the drunk driver - Mr. Luthor (Mrs. Simon kept correcting herself) - kept switching lanes, and caused the car, I still couldn't get the image of a silver Lexus out of my head, to flip three times before landing in a ditch. Apparently, I was out of it by the time paramedics arrived and they pronounced 'me' brain dead within a few hours.
Mrs. Simon refused to pull the plug, though. Annie was all she had left.
"What color was the car?" I really had to know. I'd probably have nightmares of different colors, make, and models if I didn't.
"That, yes. But also . . . dad's car." It feels a bit wrong to call him dad, but for some reason I'm ten years old now, and if it'll get me the information I want, then I'll grit my teeth and do it.
Mrs. Simon doesn't say much for a while. "Your father had a black sedan. The other one was a black sports car, a Lexus, like the man that drove it. I never knew cars like your father. He was a mechanic, you know."
No, actually, I didn't know. But cool. I wish I could have learned from him. I always liked learning new things, and being able to take apart a car and put it back together again would have been cool to know.
Though that also brings up the problem of money. I wonder if Mrs. Simon has a job, because the yearly wage of a mechanic can't be that much, and considering he's been dead for a year . . .
"Anyway, I refused to let them turn the machines off and you've been in a coma ever since." Mrs. Simon looks at me, and probably realizes that a ten year old shouldn't really know what that means. "You had to be asleep for a long time."
Mrs. Simon is crying again, and I - I'm Annie I remind myself, because after a story like that, to just disregard the name like that would just be cruel - pat her back. It might bring a little comfort to her.
"They never expected you to wake up, to be honest. But, Annie, I'm here, okay? We're going to be fine. That man's money paid for the bill anyway."
I honestly wonder who this Luther guy is that killed my 'father', however involuntarily it may have been. Though it would probably be better to not dwell on the matter. Annie is alive - I'm alive - and that's all that really matters at this point.
The hospital discharge papers were processed that week so that by Friday afternoon I'm on my way out in a wheelchair. Mrs. Simon has a bright red Toyota SUV now. A bright red Toyota SUV - as if to say here I am! Crash into me if you dare! It's honestly kind of funny, if I think about it long enough.
The city is interesting to look at though. I'm reminded strongly of Chicago and New York City.
"You don't have to go straight back to school, Annie. We'll talk to the principal and see what we can do. I want you to be in your age group, but that may not be able to happen."
I almost snort. I'd finished college. I could skip fourth grade if I wanted to.
Instead I ask, "Can't I take some kind of test?"
Mrs. Simon grimaces. "I don't think you'd be able to pass, honey. You already only had average scores, and you haven't been to class in a long time. They've learned new things!"
"I can study before I take the test?" My voice was quiet, because I was still trying to think over what Mrs. Simon had said. My scores had never been average. This actually really sucked.
Mrs. Simon sighed, "You can try, but we have to go into the school today for a test anyway - Mrs. Williams insisted. It's okay if you're held back. Everyone will understand."
But I wouldn't understand - I'd had a bachelors degree. I nod and looked out to the city. I had never lived in such a big city before - I'd certainly lived in a city - Miami before it really boomed - and had visited big cities before. But this is really something else.
"Where do we live?"
"In the city."
I almost roll my eyes. Of course we do, we don'y seem to be leaving it, after all. But I couldn't blame her. I'm not her daughter, and she might have forgotten that I know nothing.
She makes eye contact with me for a second, and she looks terribly sad, before she answers.
"Gotham. We live in an apartment not too far from the GCPD."
I might have been able to brush off the Gotham comment - it was a nickname for New York city that was kind of popular in the nineteenth century, if I remembered correctly - but she said GCPD. Not NYPD, GCPD - Gotham City Police Department.
Which means Batman and the Joker and - fuck. I'd read more Marvel comics.