The Blankest Moment Of My Life

Gray-- the world is gray, an impenetrable confusion of formless gray. It's not just the color gray, but the feeling gray. I try to open my eyes, to stretch my arms, to call out, but all I can sense is the gray haze.

The first feeling to pierce the gray is pain, a dull aching pain that seems to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once. Before I know anything else, I know that my body has been shattered.

I've been interminably awash in the pain and the gray when I realize my eyes are open and that there is white. White walls, white sheets, and white hot pain from my ankle. I reach back into my mind to understand where and how I am, but the gray again takes hold and pushes me under. I drown in the gray.

White again, then gray. Over and over until I discover a new bit of white. White paper on my chest with blue writing. An escape from the gray-- answers to my questions. I push aside the confusion and summon the strength to wonder where I am. Looking down, I read:

We are in Cabo San Lucas at the hospital.

Hospital-- the word reverberates through my mind. The pain is real then. I had known that, but then lost it in the gray. The realization that I'm in a hospital brings me closer to the surface. With the rushed greeting of a long lost friend my body comes back to me, and brings with it the pain. The pain is clear now-- sharp, excruciating. I am wracked. I am overcome. I cry out, and the world goes black.

Black-- then again the shapeless maze of gray, and finally returning to white. I am in a hospital, so I know there must be red. I find it in abundance. It stains the white that swathes my ankle, it's splattered over the pale green of my gown. Red-- too much red. My body is here, but it does not listen. It's broken, spastic, as if under the control of a drunken puppeteer.

Instead of my body though, I worry about my love. Our relationship is fragile, already weakened by the strain of different wants. Something has happened to me, but what of her? What of us? Has whatever rent my body torn us apart as well? I look to the paper on my chest and read:

We are getting along really well.

The walls maintain their harsh white glare and the pain in my body calls out its unignorable prophecy. But as I surrender once more to the gray, I know at least that I am not alone.

Eyes open-- pain-- white-- hospital-- Kaylea-- Note. I remember the note and this time read all of it:

We are in Cabo San Lucas at the hospital.

We are getting along really well.

We checked into the Solmar Suites.

We went for a walk by the ocean.

We watched the sunset on the rocks-- just you and me.

We were scrambling across the rocks to get back to the hotel; you were barefoot. You realized the scrambling was dangerous and you started to come back. The rock crumbled and you fell 35 feet to the rocks below.

You broke your ankle and got a bump on the head.

Eight men helped get you over the rocks and to the hospital.

We will fly home tomorrow and I will take you to the hospital at Stanford. You will have surgery on your ankle there.

There, I have it all. But really, I have none of it. A fall? I can't remember a fall. Mexico? Yes, I remember Mexico. I remember planning the trip with Kaylea, the plane ride, the windsurfing. I remember that, but rocks? Falling? I can't find it in my head and I feel myself start to slip away again.

I look up and she is there. I know suddenly that she has been there all along, that we have had this moment many times tonight. "I'll remember this time," I promise. She takes my hand. "I know you will," she says, as she has said every time, and the world fades away.

Pain first now, and this time I know what I'll find when I open my eyes: white walls, folds and creases where the plaster has been carelessly applied; my body broken, laying in a hospital bed; and Kaylea standing by my side, tears in her eyes.

"Is it bad?" I ask. "Yes, it's bad," she tells me. "How bad?" "Just try to relax honey." Her tone tells me what I need to know-- it is very bad.

Trying to remember how and why I fell, I find only confusion. There are pieces of the story in my mind but I can't order them and I don't know what's real and what's dream. That bit of my past is gone from me, and I know already I'll never recover it. As we all are, I am left with only the future.

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