It is difficult to recall what memory was exactly your first. It only becomes clear when life flashes before your eyes in seven seconds. You remember the first time you heard your mother’s voice, and how she fawned over you as a toddler. When you are alive, you restrain yourself from remembering such moments, until you die and are ready to release it. As humans, we have difficulty realizing the precious moments until it is too late.
Emily’s eyes fluttered open; the sound of a voice muffled in her ears.
Her vision became clearer. She was able to make out a head hovering above her.
“Hello?” The voice finally sounded clearer too. It was a lady’s voice, low and firm.
“Hello.” Emily mouthed, unable to muster the strength to produce sound from her vocal chords.
“Good. You’re awake.” The doctor shone some light on Emily’s eyes with a flashlight. “My name is Dr. Foster. I found you passed out in the middle of the street. You’re currently at my clinic.”
Dr. Foster lowered her flashlight. “Can you sit up?”
Emily laid still for a few seconds before she complied. But she found it difficult to push herself up. Her arms felt too weak.
“No need to force yourself.” The doctor said as soon as she heard Emily grimace. “Go lie back down. Say ah.”
Emily did as she was told and opened her mouth. The doctor put a tongue depressor into her mouth and aligned it with the flashlight on her other hand.
“You don’t seem to be sick.” She turned off the flashlight and threw the depressor in the bin next to her desk.
Emily’s eyes followed the doctor’s movement towards her computer. That was when she realized the room was tinier than she thought. Apart from the bed that Emily was lying on, there was only enough space for Dr. Foster’s computer desk and filing cabinet.
It was eerily quiet. The only sound that could be heard was Dr. Foster typing on her keyboard.
“Do you remember anything before you collapsed?”
Emily thought to herself for a while, but no memories popped up in her head. It was like her mind was a blank canvas. The only thing that she could remember was this very moment.
“Still can’t talk, huh?” The doctor sighed. “There’s not much I can do but wait, so I have to close the clinic in a bit, kid. You can sleep here for the night, but don’t go running anywhere, alright? I need to ask you a couple of questions tomorrow to complete my record.”
Dr. Foster removed her white coat. Underneath, she wore a black turtleneck with sleeves that went just below her elbows. Tattoos were all over her skin, like she was a walking art exhibit. There was a tattoo of a bundle of roses on her right arm, and of cobwebs on her left, reaching down all the way to her fingertips. Although Emily could not remember anything, she had a hunch that doctors were not supposed to look like that.
That was when Emily noticed other unorthodox features. The lady had multiple earrings. There was one large, golden looped earring on her right ear, with two silver studs at the top, and a black pearl earring on her left, with another two silver studs at the same position. Another stud was also pierced below her lower lip. Her black hair was tied up neatly high in a bun, with a streak of it dyed turquoise blue. Emily did not know if witches existed, but she was starting to wonder if she was looking directly at one.
“Goodnight, kid.” She turned the doorknob. “Don’t go escaping this room, alright? You could get the both of us in trouble.”
She opened the door, then turned the lights off before closing it. The door made a tick sound, which Emily assumed was the sound of it being locked.
Emily did not know whether she was sweating because she was scared or because the room was just humid. It was most likely the latter. She did not have it in her to feel any sort of panic, despite having an inkling that she may be being held as hostage. Maybe it was because she did not have any memories at all to inspire fear in her, or that she did not have the energy to move. Besides, there was no point worrying now, especially since it was pitch black. It was impossible for Emily to investigate.
The only sound that filled in the room was the ticking of a clock. Emily found it strange. She knew what a clock was, how a computer worked, even remembered that tattoos can cause skin infections if the needles were not sanitized properly. But she could not remember who she was, except for her first name.
She continued to lay perfectly still on the clinic bed and closed her eyes, pondering to herself.
What was her full name? Did she have parents? Where did she come from? What did she like to eat? Did she always feel this fatigued?
Was she dying? Maybe she had some terminal illness. Or what if she was an old lady? She did not even know how old she was. But perhaps she was not. The doctor called her a kid after all.
What did she look like? Did she have tattoos like the doctor? Or have dyed hair?
What did she even sound like?
Just who on earth was she?