The Awakening: Part III

The Awakening: Part III

Continued from Part II | If you missed it, Part I

Jake awoke slowly to find himself in a hospital room.

He felt drained. He tried to lift his arms, which were mere skeletons of what they once were just moments ago when he collapsed on the floor of his living room amongst scattered photos. Glancing around, he saw a photograph on a table of himself and his ex-wife. He thought that rather odd. There were also knick-knacks that seemed familiar but weren’t. There were some photos of his sisters that he recognized, but his sisters looked different than the last time he had seen them a few short weeks ago. They also had kids in the pictures who he didn’t recognize.

On the wall was a kid’s drawing obviously of a dog and the name “Shaggy” scrawled on it.

How long had he been here? Jake wondered. What had happened?

The door to his room opened, and a tall brunette with bright blue eyes walked in and gave him a huge smile. He recognized her, somehow, right away.

“Well, welcome back, Mr. Peterson. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Sarah,” she said, checking his chart and switching the fluid bag that was attached to the IV. She hovered around him checking his sheets and then moving his arms and legs. Jake knew it was her job, but he didn’t like her hovering around him and handling him so much. It felt intrusive.

Regardless, wanting to get some answers, Jake opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. Only a crackle emerged. He looked perplexed as was obvious by the nurse’s concerned look.

“Just relax. The doctor will be with you in a moment,” she advised before leaving the room.

A few minutes later a big burley guy dressed as an orderly came into his room. He seemed familiar. The orderly looked startled as he walked in the room and made eye contact with him.

“Mr. Peterson! You’re awake!” He looked nervously around. “Has the doctor seen you yet?”

Jake shook his head slowly, trying not to talk.

“I’ll be right back!” he said excitedly. It was strange to see such a big guy act so animated and giddy.

A moment later the door opened and a woman, who must have been the doctor appeared. She commanded the room and had flame red hair pulled back tight. Jake’s heart raced a bit feeling a familiarity, but still too confused to understand why.

“Hi, Mr. Peterson. I’m Dr. Turner,” the doctor said checking over his chart. “Don’t try to talk. You’ve been through quite an ordeal.”

Jake was very confused. The name ‘Gwen’ popped into his mind and he tried to speak again to say her name. But nothing came out and no one seemed to notice.

The orderly and a few nurses stood in the doorway. All of them seemed familiar.

They were all looking in with interest and curiosity. That’s when Jake noticed the name badge on the janitor. It read, ‘Kenny.’

“Mr. Peterson, I have some difficult news for you to hear,” the doctor spoke. “You were in a car accident and have been in a coma for some time. Do you understand?”

Jake nodded slowly. It made sense. But when had he gotten into the car? Had he tried to leave his house when the bright lights practically paralyzed him with pain?

“How?” he mouthed.

“Your car started to swerve off the road towards a bridge support, but just as you regained control, you had a blowout and ended up hitting the support after all.”

Jake blinked slowly several times, trying to remember. “When?”

“Your sisters will be here soon with their kids and husbands. They’ll talk to you about all of this. But, as I?said before, you’ve been here for some time.”

Jake nodded slowly again. Then he mouthed, “How long?”

Dr. Turner glanced back towards the door, and the nurses and orderly shifted uncomfortably, closed the door and left them to have some privacy.

“Five years.”

 


 

A few months went by as Jake picked up the pieces of his shattered life. He was able to get back into shape with only a few slight disabilities: diminished hearing, loss of range of motion in his left arm and a slight limp, which the therapists said would heal with full mobility in a few more months.

His life in the coma was comprised of only vague wisps of memories now. But from time to time, things that his sisters, their kids, the hospital staff and others did would bring small flashes of the dream back to him.

His wife — that was still a bad part that he would have to deal with over time. She had stayed around for about a year, but then she felt she had to move on. She had turned over all rights to his sisters and left. Their marriage hadn’t been doing well before the accident and just staying was not something she could do for him. A letter had been left behind and was actually quite heartfelt and positive.

The accident — he still couldn’t remember the night clearly. Maybe he had been suicidal. Maybe he had just been careless. But one thing was obvious, that fate orchestrated different plans for him.

Gwen — one of the different plans was that after several months, he had become close to the doctor that had helped him when he needed it most. They had finally gone out on a date and found that they had many things in common. He shared what memories he could of the alternate life and how most of his memories were about cleaning, organizing, and throwing things away.

They both decided that while he was healing, his mind and psyche were sorting through all the things in his life that mattered most and put them in their proper perspective. Gwen wished she had time to do that on a regular basis.

ShaggyJake did have one holdover from his alternate life, Shaggy. It turns out that Shaggy was the name of one of his sister’s kid’s dog. It just so happened, that his sister’s family was moving and Shaggy needed a new home.

As he relaxed in his living room with Shaggy on his lap, he remembered back to when his family finally got to bring him home. He had entered to find a house clean and organized. They had come together to clean and gathered what was theirs, get rid of what they knew he never used, and grouped things for him to sort through when he got home.

Shaggy let out a contented sigh as Jake looked around his home at the pictures on the wall and old memorabilia on shelves from the past. He smiled and realized with some contentment of his own, that in his home and in his thoughts every memory had a place, and there was a place for every memory.

FIN


© 2005-2012 Eric Huber. The Awakening is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The Awakening: Part II

Continued from The Awakening: Part I

Two months passed. The date had been a failure, which allowed Jake’s shed cleaning project to continue along nicely. He figured he would need only two more weekends before all the clutter in his shed (and house) would be either gone completely or stored neatly. He had heard a saying once that “clutter is just postponed decisions.”

He had a lot of decisions to make still.

Saturday was ‘sorting through photos’ day. Gobs of them. From infancy to just the past month.

Once the photos were done, it would mostly be going through clothes, dishes and an assortment of items too big to box. Those would go quickly. He had inventoried them in his mind several times already. He just had to focus on his methods and never waiver.

But after just a couple of hours of just sorting the photos, he started developing a headache again. This one was a lot worse. Even after taking some pain medicine, the pain hadn’t subsided much. Against his better judgement, he decided to focus on the clothes and dishes and leave the photos.

By Sunday afternoon, all that was left was the photos.

The headaches had been getting worse. With only the photos left, and everything packed away, he was surprised at how much this one was killing him. He was so close to complete organization he couldn’t stop. Eight years of sorting through all the things he’d collected over the years were almost at an end.

He sat there, in the middle of his living room staring around the room and rubbing his temples. He was surrounded by photos in stacks sorted by time period, subject matter and photographer. All the photos and albums from his childhood, college, the wedding and up to a year before the divorce were in order and just needed to be boxed.

He stared at the photos of his ex-wife, thinking back to the time when things had gotten so bad in his marriage that he had thought of just ending it all by just driving head on into a bridge support on the way back from work one night.

Of course he was too scared of the physical pain that would result and instead spent the next three years in emotional pain. “Yeah, that was a much better decision,”?Jake shook his head which just increased the pain and made him dizzy.

But when it came to the divorce, he knew deep down that he had made the right decision. There were so many things he had done and experienced since then that he couldn’t imagine what it would have been like to miss them all.  He started to think about a trip he and Kenny took when a sharp pain pierced his head and sent sparks across his eyes. He reeled for a moment and after a few minutes the pain subsided.

“Whoa. That sucked,” he rubbed his temples as his vision cleared.

The dog stared at him from her comfy spot on the couch overlooking the mass collection of memories and sighed. “Well, might as well finish this up, right Shaggy?”

Jake reached for the first stack and had a searing flash of pain coupled with a bright white light that filled his vision. These weren’t mere sparks. And the flash of pain was like that from a dagger.

After a few minutes the lights and pain subsided, and he found himself lying flat on his back staring at the ceiling. Some of the photo stacks had been knocked over and scattered around.

“Okay, that really sucked, Shaggy.”?He glanced over, but Shaggy had left. He called her name, but she didn’t come. Jake wondered how long he had been lying on the floor and tried to check his cell phone, but it was completely dead.

“Swell,”?he thought, “Okay, only eight more stacks, and I’m done.”

Jake reached for the first stack that he had knocked over. As he flipped them over, he gasped when he saw they were blank. All of them. Just as he was trying to comprehend why the photos were now all blank, a wall of pain hit him full force making him reel with nausea and his heart start to race.

“What the hell?” he cried, his eyes winced in pain.

He was just recovering and was, stubbornly, reaching for another stack of photos as pain, light, and, now, a blaring static sound began washed over his sense. As the light dimmed, he saw that this next pile, too, held blank photos.

His body started to tingle, and his legs began to ache as the light and noise made focusing on the room around him more difficult. He scattered the remaining photos only to find every single one was blank.

Then he started coughing as if something was caught in his throat. He couldn’t breathe through his nose either. He felt nauseous. Was he dying?

Jake started for the house phone, but his legs didn’t carry him. He fell to the floor, writhing in agony.

The lights were everywhere, and the sounds were just as piercing as the light. They started to sound like voices and machines. Metal clanking. Wheels rolling.

What is happening to me?’ Jake thought as he, thankfully, lost consciousness.

To be continued….

The Awakening: Part 1

The Awakening: Part 1

A short story by Eric Huber


The newly constructed shelf collapsed, sending boxes crashing down and scattering their collected contents spanning decades across the shed floor.

“Dammit!” Jake muttered.

The dog padded into view and tilted her head as if to ask, ‘Are you okay?’ Her tail wagged slowly.

Jake, more than a little irritated at yet another setback in organizing the years of accumulated

junk, scowled at the dog and said a little too angrily, “What?!”

The dog’s tail stopped wagging, drooping between her legs, and her head sunk a little as she plodded off across the carport.

Jake immediately felt guilty.

“Shaggy?” he called out. But Shaggy wasn’t up for more abuse and just laid down on the cement, letting out a little huff before turning away from him.

Jake sat down too and started putting the scattered contents back into his neatly organized boxes. He picked up the first item and turned it over in his hand. “Seriously, Shaggy, why am I keeping a cast iron bulldozer my grandfather gave me when I was ten?”

Shaggy moved her eyes towards him. Her tail wagged a few times, but she remained otherwise still, refusing to get up.

diggerOf course, Jake knew that answer. The bulldozer was a replica of a huge Caterpiller used for excavating. He had spent his summers with his grandparents, and each day his grandfather would take him out to the IHOP for pancakes and blueberry syrup. Afterwards, they would head out to the quarry that his grandfather owned.

What fun for a little boy. Big “Diggers,” massive “loaders,” a fleet of dump trucks and gigantic ranges of mountains made of gravel from the mammoth rock crushers that filled the air with constant grinding and dust.

Such a flood of memories.

“I can’t throw this away, Shaggy,” Jake said as he rubbed his temples. He always got headaches when going through the junk. Maybe it was some allergy to mold or mildew.

Shaggy finally gave in and lifted her old bones off the pavement.

Jake finished packing up the “Grandpa” box and set it aside as Shaggy came over and laid her chin on his knee.

“That dog is pathetic,” Kenny said, walking into the carport. Shaggy spun around and rushed to him as Kenny bent down and smothered the dog with affection. “Pathetic. Yes, you are,” he repeated several times. It was always amazing to see such a big burly guy go all soft and talk baby talk to a dog. “Are you STILL sorting through all this junk?”

“Shut up.”

“Make your sisters take some of it to sort and store.”

“They don’t have the space and don’t know what some of it is anyway. I’ll give them the stuff once I sort it all out,” Jake told him.

“Dude, I told you when your ex just left everything for you to deal with, just burn it all and be done with it. Half this stuff has been boxed already for 5 years and hasn’t been opened once. Do you even know what’s in them?”

“Nag. Nag. Nag. My ex didn’t nag me as much as you do,” Jake complained. “I don’t know why I’m keeping it. I just – feel like I have to. It’s part of me. My history.”

“Yeah? Well, if you aren’t making little notes and attaching it to each piece of memorabilia, it’s not going to do anyone any good after you’re gone.”

“True. Maybe it’s just for me.”

Kenny’s cell phone rang at that moment. With a quick glance before answering, he said, “It’s Gwen.”

“Yo.”

Kenny’s eyes darted around the shed and finally alighted on the object for which he was searching. He took a few steps and picked up Jake’s cell phone.

“Yeah. I’m over at his place now, and he had his phone off,” he said, scowling at Jake and showing him four missed phone calls. “What good is a phone if it’s not on?”

“The phone is for my convenience, not the convenience of others,” Jake replied in faux indignation.

“Blah. Blah. Blah. Here,” Kenny said, thrusting the phone at Jake, “She wants to talk to you.”

“Hey boss!”

“Don’t make me smack you. Quit calling me boss,” Gwen spoke.

Even though Gwen actually was Jake’s boss, they had become best friends. She took care of him whenever he needed help but only let him help her with small things. There had never been any romantic involvement or tension except when things were busy on the job. In fact, he had rarely seen her with her long, flame-red hair let down. She always kept it pulled back tight and professional, even after hours.

While only 5’ 6”, she easily commanded any room she entered. She was clever, resourceful and could get a whole room laughing. Her beauty was the kind that could keep men off balance in business but that was not so striking that other women were intimidated.

Her friendly demeanor quickly calmed any jealousy women had, and her knowledge and insight easily dissuaded men from hitting on her.

Her friendship helped tremendously after his bitter divorce.

“You know I love ya. What’s up?”

“I’m introducing you to someone tonight, so put your game face on and get ready to play,” she informed him.

“Oh, no, you don’t. The last time you ‘introduced’ me to someone, I ended up holding some strange woman’s head up from falling in the toilet after she drank too much. That was fun…NOT!”

“No excuses. You’ll love her. She’ll love you. You can get married and have babies. Plus, she falls into one of your two stereotypes.”

“A tall brunette with blue eyes? You know those never work out. They’ve always been too clingy.” Jake said laughing.

“No, the other one. The masculine Hungarian type with three eyes. Now shut up and go get ready. See you as seven o’clock at Stephano’s. Now, gimme Kenny again.”

Jake handed over the phone.

“Yeah, I’ll make sure he’s there,” Kenny hung up and scowled at Jake.
“Step away from the shed, and no one will get hurt.”

Shaggy wagged her tail in agreement with Kenny.

To be continued….

awakenings_lead


© 2005-2012 Eric Huber. The Awakening is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.