One Moment Can Change A Life

James stepped away from his car. He had parked it at the edge of the forest. Now he closed the door, and he forced his feet to carry him into the trees. Beside him, a two-track of rutted dirt road leads off through the forest. As he walks along the road, he lost in thought when he should pay attention to the surrounding area. His thoughts cover the sound of an approaching engine racing a little too fast. He rounds the corner and his thoughts snapped back to the present by headlights blinding him. Those lights were the last thing he heard or saw that night.

His next moment of consciousnesses was being blinded by the brightest light he had ever seen. The doctor standing over the bed he was laying in. The doctor’s voice floated to him over strange sounds he couldn’t place. “James? Can you hear me?” The doctor asked.

James tried to speak. The only thing that came out was a low growl style noise. Instead, he nodded in careful movements. He swallowed, expecting a tube down his throat, but there wasn’t one. He could breathe fine. James tried to lift his right hand toward the doctor. The doctor spoke in a clear tone. “Don’t talk, nod or shake your head. I have a few questions for you. Can you do that for me?” He asked.

James drew in a breath. He nodded his head, hoping in that moment the man didn’t have too many questions. He wasn’t feeling strong enough to answer over one or two.

“Thank you. My name is Doctor Thomas Havensu. I’m the head of recovery care here at this facility. My first question is do you know where you are?” He asked.

James shook his head. He didn’t know what was going on. All he knew was his last memory was of headlights.

“Okay, let me give you the short version of what we know. A car on Revel Road on Halloween night. That was eight months ago,” he said, watching the emotions play over James’ face.

James blinked, his eyes widening as fear washed over him. He tried to push himself upright, falling back to the bed in pain, causing him to suck in a sharp breath.

Doctor Havensu put out his hand, pushing him back down to the bed. “Don’t get up. You have been healing for a long time, but you are going to tire. Your injuries include broken bones, a broken sternum, a punctured spleen, and two bruised kidneys. Somehow, your face escaped most of the damage,” he said.

James laid there trying to understand what the man was saying, but things weren’t connecting in his mind. He tried again to force words past his lips. “How? Katlyn? Where?” The words ripped through an unused throat sounding alien to his ears. How could that be his voice?

Again, Doctor Havensu pressed his hand to James’ chest. “Careful. If you must talk, do so with care,” he said. “now to address your questions. How, we don’t know. What we know is you were walking on Revel Road at night. We know a car came around the bend close to the river and you could not escape its path. Where? You are in a recovery facility outside of New Orleans. I know that is miles from where you lived. The doctors at the original hospital could no longer treat you, so they transferred you here. As for your last question, Katlyn. I don’t know who that is,” he said.

James’s face fell. The pain crossing it this time had nothing to do with the injuries he had gotten in the accident. The only thing he had wanted in the few moments since he opened his eyes was to know where Katlyn was and if she was okay. He couldn’t remember if he had seen her the night of the accident or not. Hell, he couldn’t even remember the accident itself. “Girlfriend. Katlyn Braddock,” he said, the words feeling like crushed glass in his throat.

“I will call the other facility and see if they have any information. Until I can do that, I’m going to send the nurse in to help you get more comfortable. They will bring you something to write with so you don’t have to struggle as hard to communicate,” he said. A moment later, he walked out of the room, only to have the door swing open again before it could even stop moving.

“Hello, James. It’s good to see you awake,” the nurse said. “I’ve wondered what those blue eyes of yours looked like with life and energy in them.” She moved closer to the bed, reaching out and taking his wrist in her hand.

James smiled and nodded, lifting his hand to receive the white board and pen she was holding out to him. He wrote in struggling stokes. ‘Thank you.”

She gave him a bright smile. “No problem. Is there anything you want or need?” She asked.

He shook his head. Thoughts of a broken future filled his head as memories of Halloween night flooded through his mind. Pain was going to be his constant companion.

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