4. One year later
It's different here. People pass me - woman with blue outfits on - holding trays of food and giving me welcoming glances. One woman sits down beside me, handing me a cup of cocoa.
"How are you doing, darling?" She asks.
“Okay…” I mumble, sipping at the drink. Like always, the pain is numbed.
But not the confusion.
"Why am I not at home?" I ask her, looking around at the unfamiliar faces.
"This is your home."
I look around the room, fixating on where the window always is. But just a flat wall remains. This isn't my home. I know that for a fact.
"Ah, Lily's here!" The woman calls out.
Looking up, it's lovely to see my daughter again. At least something is familiar in this alienated atmosphere.
"Lily, why am I here?" I ask.
"You're sick;" she says, tentatively, "you live here now.”
"Don’t be silly, I’m fine,” I reply, "Take me home.”
She shakes her head, eyes pricking with tears. "I can't, I'm sorry. It's getting worse and we have to be cautious."
"What's getting worse?" My voice catches in my throat.
“My memory is as good as new.”
"Mum, you were diagnosed with…” She stops, before changing the subject, as if trying to avoid something. "So how are things?"
I look away. "No different."
But it's a lie. Ever since the day I had that peculiar 'dream', my life's been different. It’s become a routine – waking up to realise I’m not in my own body – and it’s strange.
I want to tell Lily - I really do - but after she’s stuck me in this place? I just can’t trust her anymore.
"I’m fine,” I reassure her again, faking a smile.
But I can tell she doesn't believe me.
"You're stubborn, I know that, but this place will save you.”
She gets up, kisses me on the forehead and leaves for another millionth time. I think back to the 'dreams', how when I'm in them I'm no longer in my real body but looking upon it. I'm alive, I always say to myself, I'm very much alive. But am I?
Perhaps she's right. Maybe I'm dying. And maybe these are the effects of it.