Waking up proved not to be the worst part.
However, right then, the brightness of the lamps above seems to blind me and the feeling of something against my wrist is very current. A hand. Its coldness makes chills appear on my spine. When I blink, I can make out her shape.
“Mom.” My voice cracks against my dry lips.
She squeezes my hand. “Penn, my baby,” she whispers. I spot something glistening in her eyes now. She is propped inside a saggy sweatshirt, hair tied up in a greasy bun. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen her like this.
“W-where … what is this place?” I hesitate.
“Yes. I had the feeling. But why am I here?”
Her pupils widen. Then she lets go of me, calling the nurse behind her forward. I haven’t seen the woman until now, though she seems strangely familiar.
“Penelope,” the nurse addresses me. “You were in a car crash. The vehicle hit a tree. You were hardly conscious when you were found, though you could manage to speak a few words. Don’t you remember?”
“No.” I tremble, taking a look around in the maroon room. It looks simplified and clean, like it’s supposed to make you feel calm or maybe even nothing at all. There’s a certain emptiness to the walls around me that awakes an itchy feeling in my stomach: alertness.
“Why isn’t he here?” I stare at Mom.
She tucks at her auburn hair, making me stir. Tucking at her hair means that she doesn’t want to talk about it.
“Penn, there was other people in the car with you. Two were in the back seat. One was in the front.” She sniffles. “You’re the first to wake up.”
Later, they tell me that I am in a haze for the next hour. I won’t respond nor comprehend. Everything is a flick of agony. My eyes are horribly dry.
All I remember is this feeling of my lungs squeezing together so tightly that my air feels like needles. My whole mouth is numb from the broken memories, and all I can do is sit there and stare because my head feels so terribly empty.