The first sensation he was consciously aware of was the pain. It radiated from within him, and where it started as a quiet and subtle nagging, it quickly blossomed into an agony he could not ignore. He rose from the waves of slumber into a pained consciousness, slowly opening his eyes – or attempting to, finding himself unable to open one of them. Why was that?
It was bright, uncomfortably so. He squinted in the sunlight as it shone from the window to his left, and through his sleepy, addled awareness he surveyed his surroundings. He did not recognize where he was – a cabin, of sorts? The sheets of the bed he found himself lying in were warm and soft, but he was discomforted by the fact that he could not recollect how he’d gotten there.
“You’re awake?” came a voice from his right. It was a question; the speaker was uncertain of his consciousness, and frankly so was he. Though he knew himself to be awake, he still felt sleepy and slow. He turned to face the direction of the voice… a young woman sat beside him, her expression unreadable.
He struggled to respond, but his face felt… wrong, somehow. Though he tried to move his mouth to form words, to form sentences as he knew he could, it was as if his lips disobeyed his requests. His brow furrowed in his frustration.
“It’s okay,” the woman assured him. Blue. Her hair was blue, he realized now. “Take your time. You’ve… you’ve been through a lot. It will take time to heal.”
Her statement confused him. After a time, he was able to connect the pain he felt to what she was saying, but his confusion became even more insistent with this association.
“I know this is hard for you, I’m sorry,” she said slowly, leaning forward. “We’ve… how much do you remember? Do you know where you are?”
He moved his mouth again, and this time was able to create sound. “No.” Was that the sound of his own voice? He was unsure of what exactly he had been expecting, but it certainly hadn’t been the sound he’d just heard. It was jarring. It was in that moment he realized he didn’t know quite who he was, and this was far more alarming to him than realizing he didn’t know where he was.
“I see…” she seemed disappointed by his answer, but not surprised by it. “Do you remember your name? Do you–do you remember who I am?”
There was hope in her voice, he thought. He regarded her face, struggling through the fog in his mind. The pain in his head made it difficult to focus, but there was something stronger, as if he were wading through mud trying to reach an answer to a question he could not decipher.
As he looked at her face now, he could remember… nothing. But oh, how he wanted to – how he wanted to remember this young woman who seemed to care so deeply for his well-being. His vision was poor, but he could see her now, and she was lovely, he thought.
“No,” he admitted. Her expression visibly sobered, and he hurried through his words, struggling to enunciate the rest of his thoughts. “But I… I know your face.”
She paused, blinking as she searched his expression. “You what?”
“I know your face,” he repeated. His head hurt and moving his jaw felt as if he were trying to move an appendage only partially attached to him. “I … did I know you, once?”
Her eyes seemed wet, and he worried he had said something incorrect. “Yes,” she replied, her voice breaking. “Yes, you did.”
The pain in his head was unbearable, but as she spoke a new pain entered his mind; a tightness in his chest, a compassion for a forgotten memory he could not hope to recollect at this moment. He wanted to ease her worries, to assure her he did remember her… but his energy waned, and still his mind felt foggy and unclear. “I know your face,” he repeated once more, feeling himself slip into unconsciousness once more as the vision of the blue-haired maiden drifted into darkness.