• “Caren, what do you think?”
    Throbbing – blurring shapes.
    “Caren? Hey Caren!”
    Screams. Splintering pain between the eyes.
    Legs fold, consciousness crumbles.


    “...name...Caren...19 years old...no immediate family that want to know her...lives with me...”
    “...medical history?”
    “Nothing that I know of...has been complaining of headaches recently...”
    Fractured far away voices penetrate the void, and then vanish completely. Only the feeling of gentle hands clasping my own ice cold fingers is left.


    “... are you paying attention to the patient? She’s coming around again.”
    Burning screaming pain, fire for a body. Blurred shapes swim in my vision, silent screams heave and burn in my lungs. A soft glow like a space craft in a forest fire, figures like probing aliens. Persistent and high pitched ear shattering ring from among the many dials and lights.
    “She’s on twice the normal dose! You’ve got to be kidding me!”
    Ice flooding through my veins, distant shapes and voices fade again, into murky oblivion.


    “...take her off life support if there are no improvements in three days. I’m sorry but that’s just the way it is.”
    “Please, just give her time, please.” Desperate, the voice floats through the darkness.
    “Please, she’s everything to me. Everything!” Sobs mixed with angry irrational words follow. Slowly I crack open my eyes to nothing. Shapes begin to solidify, fading in from grey. A nearly empty room snaps into focus. A chair, a closed and curtained window- moonlight seeping through, a door lit around the edges in a perfect rectangle by light from the other side. Ethereal. Voices in argument continue to spill through the crack under the door. I want to leave through that door and go to the desperate voice. I cough, try to sit up but fall back down amongst the creak of a rickety hospital bed, nobody seems to hear. But then there are only those beyond the door in a now invalid argument.

    My thoughts come in fragmented bursts. ‘My heart aches and drowsy numbness pains...fade far away, dissolve and quite forget’ Lines from a half forgotten poem. Where the hell am I? Who on earth am I? That voice, that voice, that voice, its somebody important to me, who? Who? Who? Who is it? Rushed and confused the ideas and concepts run, dance and tangle into one big mess. I let out a massive groan, try to form a word, a single word that will bring whoever it is from the other side of the door to my bedside. It comes out as a croak. Attempting to push myself up again, I manage to sit up a little and take a better look at the place I’m in. The door crashes open against the wall, light floods in, and a hiss of pain escapes my lips as it hits my eyes with full blinding force. Emerging from the light, a girl steps forward. Tears have danced down her face; her eyes, luminous green, are red rimmed from crying. She stumbles her way towards my bed, clasps my hand in both her own and buries her face in the sheets.
    “Caren, oh Caren. Thank god.....thank god.” Her voice is muffled by the bed, but my name reaches my ears and my mind attempts to scramble for the memories associated with being me. Fragments flit by in tantalising chunks. None manage to stick.

    Sighing, I gently squeeze the shaking hands clasping my own. The girl looks up, long dark hair falls over her eyes, she brushes it back from her face with thin pale hands. Her face flashes through my mind in many forms, laughing, crying, yelling, and screaming. Angry, happy, sad, in hysterics, in wonder, in love. She’s important, the most important!, the voice in my head shouts, why can’t you remember her? Ask her, ask her why she’s your most important.
    “ Who...who are you? Who am I?” My voice comes out in a rasping croak. Her eyes freeze, like somebody had stabbed her through the heart. She attempts to disguise a pain I can’t quite comprehend with a sad smile tugging at rosebud lips.
    “You are Caren. My friend. I am Harley.” She chokes out in-between sobs.
    “My most important.” I blurt. A spark of hope flashes across her face; it’s the last thing I see before sleep claims me again. The doctor leans against the door, his mouth agape.
    “It’s a bloody miracle. She shouldn’t be this....lucid.”

    Sunlight streams through the window. She is sitting like an angle beside my bed, dozing, a soft smile on her lips. Groaning I attempt to sit up and reach for her hand. An instinct. Starting, she leans over and gently props me up, takes my hand and smiles. Her green eyes haven’t slept much for a while. She struggles to say something. A conflict rips across her face. She sighs and hesitates.
    “I waited for you, watching you sleep, machines were breathing for you. Dolled up in white, and wrapped up in tubes, you wore them so gracefully. The angels and demons were fighting for you; your maidens do your bidding. If you wake, mine will be, the very first eyes you see....” she sings her voice sad, sweet and shaking. Tears trailing down her beautiful face in rivers. Taking my hand she presses it against her cheek. I remember being enchanted by this song, a long time ago, my back to hers as we sat reading somewhere by a lake in the sun. It was from our favourite band.
    “My most important.” I manage to say. She smiles, drops her hand from mine and rummages in her bag for something. Pulling out a battered photo frame she places it on the table beside the bed. A nurse sticks her head around the door.
    “Miss, visiting hours are over now, you need to leave.”
    The girl, Harley, sighs and stands up. Leaning over me, she hesitates a little before lowering her face to mine and placing a soft, sweet, kiss on my forehead. A tear jumps from her face to mine.
    “Love you. I’ll see you tomorrow ‘k?”
    “Okay.” I manage. She walks out the door; the nurse rests a reassuring hand on her shoulder guiding her to the exit. And I am left with a kiss, a tear, a photo frame and a vague memory of trees, lakes, books, bands and summer. And love.

    The days turn to weeks, weeks to months. There is a pattern in how I spend my day. Wake up in the morning, rehabilitation – the art of learning things I should already know, rest in the afternoon, a visit from her every evening. The highlight of my day. A new photo joins the first every second visit, and new indistinct memory joins my vague understanding of me every time. It’s a gradual process.

    Sometimes I ask her questions. Sometimes we sit in a comfortable silence. Her head resting on the bed. Her hand clasping mine, long slender fingers gently tracing my own.
    “How old am I?”
    “How old are you?”
    “22. That’s the sort of question you don’t ask in polite conversation you know.” Her laughter is infectious. Her features shaded in sunlight, beautiful, like a painting. My heart twinges every time I lock eyes with her. Remember! I tell myself.
    “Well this isn’t a polite conversation!”
    “True. You have a point. It’s more like an interrogation.” I can’t help but crack a manic grin at this statement.
    “What do I do?”
    “You’re a student. You study English Literature and Classical History at the University. You have a part time job in the local comic store. You nerd.”
    “What do you do?”
    “I study Fine Arts at the University. I work part time in a cafe.”
    “Were do I live?”
    “With me, in an apartment near campus.”
    “Are we lovers?”
    “.....yes.” Her voice is always hesitant when she answers that one. It’s like it hurts her I have to ask her that question. It hurts me that I have to ask that question. I want it to be true; I want to remember it to be true. But all I have is scattered memories, and half formed dreams. The unusual thing is I remember everything about the world, current events, what University is, what I have studied. Nothing solid about me or her though. Except that she is my most important.

    “What happened to me?”
    Her face always twists with grief when I ask this; she slams the gates shut on waterworks every time.
    “You collapsed on me in the pet store.”
    I snort with laughter. Of all the places to collapse!
    “It was a tumour. You had been complaining of headaches for a while, but we both thought of nothing of it. You just collapsed on me. You woke up briefly in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, I was frantic! They told me you woke up during the surgery too. The fact you survived is a bloody miracle.” She smiles then shivers, weeps silently. “I nearly lost you. Don’t do anything like that again!”
    Where youth grows pale, and spectre thin and dies.
    The most depressing line of a half forgotten poem hits me with force.
    “I won’t” I promise rashly, not sure if I can keep it.


    “You’re being discharged today.” The nurse checks the machines by my bedside for the millionth time. The soft blip of the monitor stops as she unhooks me. I smile and swing my legs over the bed. I collect the pile of clothes form the chair beside the bed and shoo her out the door. Changing I marvel at how weird it feels to be in normal clothes again. How weird it is to wear pants again. How weird it feels to stand un-assited again. I peer into the mirror beside my bed. Reflected in the glass is a mere shadow of the girl in the photos Harley has been bringing me. Sunken cheek bones, sharp - almost intelligent hazel eyes, soft fuzz masquerading as hair, a long knoted scar running from the front of my forehead to just above my left ear. Running my hand through the short dirty blonde fuzz, I trace the knotted scar, hopefully my hair will grow over and cover it eventually. Hopeful my memory will grow back with it.

    A knock sounds at the door.
    “Oi! I’m coming in!”
    Harley barges inside, then comes to a sudden stop as she realises I’m not in the bed, but standing up fully dressed. I laugh at the beautiful surprise dancing behind her luminous green eyes. Throwing my arms around her I give her a quick squeeze. I grab the small bag and place the many photos from the bedside in it. Smiling I take her hand and lead her out the door. The doctor is waiting outside, a wheel chair at the ready.
    “You sit,” He points at me, then the wheel chair, “you, come.” He points at Harley and leads her around the corner. Begrudgingly I sit in the wheel chair, more than slightly miffed that I have to surrender my new found independence so soon. I start to play with the hem of my shirt. Wondering what on earth he is saying to my most important.

    Several peices of paper, many messy signatures and several hours later, I arrive with Harely at a beautiful old apartment building. She helps me out of the taxi and into the much hated wheel chair. Pushing me up the ramp she starts to giggle.
    “What?” I demand as we enter the elevator.
    “I’m just delirious. You haven’t been home in over six months. Would you rather I cry?” I smile sadly at her reply and reach for her hand bringing it to my lips.
    “No. You’ve been crying too much lately.”

    The elevator bings, the door opens, and the wheel chair rattles down the hallway. Fumbling with the key she unlocks the door. Pushing me inside, Harley starts humming, a sound I love.
    “Harley? Love? Why are there two beds? I only remember one.”
    She pauses, turns and looks at me. Radiant green eyes alight with joy, wet with tears. I grin as my memory starts to solidify. Defying the doctor’s wishes, and her protests, I stand, advance and embrace her. As an afterthought I take her face in my hands, caressing her soft cheeks, I lean in, drawn by the spicy scent that is her, and place a kiss on her indescribable lips.
    “We only ever used the one.”
    “I know, mymost important.” All uncertainty is gone, in its place many bittersweet and happy memories. The missing pieces now finally in place.
    ‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, but being too happy in thine happiness....