Suddenly, she existed. She couldn't recall being born but, then again, who could? This wasn't the problem. The problem was that she couldn't remember much of anything up until this point. As if waking from a lifelong slumber she blinked her eyes as the light, pale and flecked with particles dancing through the beam, kissed her skin and caressed her hair. It was a beautiful way to meet the world and a smile temporarily graced her lips before the confusion crashed from the ceiling down on her and she flailed about in the constrictive bedding until a leg burst forth, and then the other, and an arm until finally she was free. She sat up and put feet to cool hardwood, bracing herself with hands on either side of the yielding mattress.
A quick survey of the room told her she was not in familiar territory. Why wasn't she at home? She furrowed her brow and a frown curved her mouth downward. This didn't make sense. She couldn't recall where home was or even how it differed from here. She glanced behind her. What? A man in the bed! She stood and backed away until she felt the window sill press against the small of her back. She self consciously pulled at the long t-shirt she'd apparently worn to bed, feeling a flush of red on her cheeks as she considered having being half naked in a strange room with a strange man.
He stirred. A sleepy groan and a half-snore before she watched his fingers twitch and he breathed in sharply through his nose. She saw his foot come up, tenting the blankets as he went rigid in a stretch and then his eyes blinked a few times and he squinted at her standing in the sunbeam, a silhouette with a golden aura in front of him.
"Lyra!" He was instantly awake and he sat up, naked chest easing from under the tumbling sheet that had concealed it. She tried to back up further, placing hands behind her on the windowsill and pushing her shoulders back against the glass. "You're out of bed! That's great! Oh Lyra!" He stood and Lyra dropped her gaze to her feet as he approached her. "God, baby. I've been so worried about you." He wrapped her into his arms and held her close, his chin resting on the top of her head and she stiffened, unsure of how to respond.
"Uhh..." She began awkwardly and pulled back, pushing him away gently and sidestepping out of his reach. "Umm, I'm sorry, you seem really nice and all that but, I don't know you. I don't know where I am. Can you just take me home please? I really just want to go home."
The man's face shattered. His shoulders slumped and Lyra could almost see the happiness evaporating into the air around him.
"They said this was a real possibility. I had just hoped that we would have been powerful enough, meaningful enough for you to remember. Selfish to think that, unfair too, but I couldn't help thinking it." He shook his head and sat down on the edge of the bed, looking up at her with a pained expression.
Car crash. Logging truck - impatient and passing on a double solid. Headlights ahead and not enough time. Panicked, the driver swerves back into his lane, smashing the small car he'd been passing in the process. A small bridge over a creek. The car crashes into the side rail and topples helplessly downward towards the water. The driver in the oncoming lane sees what happens, the logging truck driver either doesn't or doesn't care. A run down the embankment and finally he spots the car, upside down and a foot underwater. He calls for help on his cell and rushes towards the car, desperately trying to get the door open. Her head is under the water. If she's not dead from her injuries, she'll surely drown. Finally, jacket wrapped around his arm, he smashes through the passenger side window and reaches in, unbuckling the seatbelt and pulling her free and up the bank.
Doctors speak in terms unknown. What is understood, however, is that she'll make it. Bones will mend, bruises will fade, stitches will be removed. Brains don't always bounce back in the same way. Lack of oxygen for too long can cause severe damage. Nothing will be known until she wakes up. She will wake up. It's just a matter of time. The body just needs to heal first. Don't lose hope. She can go home with you if you'd like, her injuries are nearly healed. Call when she wakes up. Be prepared.
"You've been home for a week, Lyra. You were in the hospital for almost three months."
Lyra shook her head. This couldn't be true. This wasn't her life, this man was a stranger, this house was unknown. He sighed and ran his hands through his hair before looking back up at her. He could read her face, he knew her thoughts. Raising an arm, he pointed towards the low dresser with a large mirror on the other side of the room. A framed photograph hung beside the mirror. Lyra walked towards it slowly and as it shifted into focus, her eyes began to tear, blurring the image again.
"That was taken the week of our five year wedding anniversary." He called to her from the bed and she whirled around, tears splashing against her cheek. He smiled softly at her before pointing again, gesturing to the photo frame on the opposite side of the mirror.
A young girl, hair in ringlets the color of the pale sunbeam pouring into the room. She sat against deep green grass, arms and hands sprawled behind her in support as if she'd just fallen in a fit of laughter to the earth and stared from the picture, sparkling eyes and a wide grin. Lyra could almost hear her melodic laughter.
"That's Beth. She's four. She has my stubbornness and your sense of confidence." She could hear the waver in his voice and a sob bubbled up through her chest as she clasped her hand to her mouth. She looked in the mirror at herself before looking back at the picture of the girl. There was no denying she was hers. Their eyes were the same shape and color and the nose was petite and slightly upturned just like hers.
Suddenly he was behind her with a hand on her shoulder. He reassured her that her memory would return, it just may take some time in finding it's way back to her. He told her he knew she'd need some time to absorb it all and he didn't want to make her feel pressured or uncomfortable. He'd answer any questions she had, he could take her back to the doctor. He'd sleep on the couch. He sheepishly admitted to just wanting to hold her while she slept in their bed for the past week. He'd missed her so much.
Lyra nodded and turned to face him. She blinked wet eyelashes and brushed a tear from her cheek.
"Are you sure I'll remember eventually?" He nodded at her as she wrung her hands in front of her. "OK. I...I need to sit down." She walked back across the room to the bed, sat down and looked up at him again. "This is hard to take in."
"I know." He reassured her and walked towards the closet, pulling it open and retrieving a pair of sweatpants. Lyra's eyes went immediately to the line of skirts and blouses, the neat row of high heeled shoes and the purses hanging from a hook. They were hers. She didn't recognize them but they had to be. This was her room. This was her house. This was her husband.
"I have to get Beth up and fed. You can stay in here as long as you'd like. All day if you want. Take the time you need, OK?" She nodded her head at him and pushed another sob back down her throat.
He opened the door as he pulled a t-shirt over his head before turning around and looking at her.
"Lyra," he started as she looked at him with a stranger's gaze, "I love you."
Her mouth opened and shut a few times. Was she to respond? She knew he was her husband but at the moment she didn't know him from Adam. Her face contorted in pain and he smiled at her.
"I'm sorry. Please don't rush things. If it makes you uncomfortable, I won't say it until you're ready."
"Thank you." She whispered as a rogue tear slipped from under her lashes and escaped down to her chin. She looked up again as he moved to pull the door closed behind him and called for him to wait.
"I'm sorry." She shook her head and winced at him momentarily. "What's your name?"