Thomas Hatlen, a man in his septuagenarian years, swiftly sits up and starts to heave-in through his old, beaten, worn out lungs. Raising a weak, wrinkled hand to his mouth, he coughs, violently, before lying back down on his bed. His bed? No. This can’t be his bed. It doesn’t feel right. Thomas or more commonly known by his peers, as Tommy, begins to scan his surroundings, the squared patterned ceiling hanging over his bed, and the awkwardly hard mattress underneath his frail old body. Confusion soon dissolves to disappointment, then to anger. How did he manage it this time? Did he fall?
He shakily raises one hand and starts to inspect his face. He starts with his chin rolling his palm around it; no pain. Gently he flattens out his hand and slides it slowly up his left cheek, frowning as he feels every disgusting wrinkle and indent upon his face. Then, there it is, about a centimeter above his left eyebrow. A large gash around two inches thick and God only knows how deep. Tommy slowly rubs his old worn out finger along it, counting the ridges. One. Pain flooded Tommy’s body, causing him to wince at how delicate it was, but curiosity forced him to carry on. Two. Pain once more rushing over his weak, frail form. Pain again, as finally he felt a third. A sigh leaves his mouth. Only three stitches. That isn’t too bad, he calmly thinks to himself. No! How did I let this happen? He thinks to himself, how could this have happened?
Tommy’s pain and anger and shame are soon masked by that of a song that begins to play on the hospital radio. Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A Changing’. Tommy recognizes the music instantaneously. He recalls being in his mid-twenties on the date of its release. Tommy begins to close his eyes. Begins to think.
Tommy’s mind begins to drift to his wedding. His late wife June Hatlen, formerly June Carter, standing before him in a ghostly white dress at their local church, ironically where she now rests. Thomas, is now withered and old like a beaten old prune, which in fact quite clearly represents his life. He still regards that day, his wedding day, to be the happiest of all his memories.
The music suddenly changes to some form of modern, up beat song, with some kind of irritating repetitive beat. Tommy watches the ghostly figure of his beautiful wife starts to blur and fade, his surroundings, now foggy, as if a sea mist has swept through his mind. In the distance, Tommy stares at the woman of his dreams, as her figure starts to dance in the mist, her distinctive features slowly fading as she drifts away from him like how the crest of a wave becomes buried not long after its peak. His memory. Once again blank.
Thomas was awoken by a doctor tapping on his shoulder.
“Thomas, Thomas can you hear me?” Tommy reluctantly began to open his eyes. A doctor, young in age, looking around his mid, to late twenties, was gently tapping Tommy’s shoulder. Tommy stared into his youthful happy eyes and gave a small subtle nod.
“You had quite a fall didn’t you Mr. Hatlen?” The doctor spoke in a slow, caring voice, as if to reassure Tommy. Tommy merely nodded in reply to the doctor, as the embarrassment of the whole ordeal made it so that he was too ashamed to answer.
“Well, the good news is Mr. Hatlen we are happy to discharge you. However, I would like to talk to you about Alzheimer’s. Have you heard of it? It isn’t uncommon for men of your age to experience a sudden loss of memory.”
Tommy began to fill with anger like a kettle coming to boil. Through Tommy’s eyes, he saw the young doctor telling him he could go, yet still talking to him as if he was better than him. Tommy stared directly into the doctor’s youthful eyes as he blurted out a strong but short “No! Just let me go home.” Almost taken a-back, the youthful doctor calmly agreed, and discharged Tommy.
Tommy starts to heave in through his old beaten worn out lungs. He lay back down on a soft comforting mattress. A slight grin leaves his face as his body feels as if it were protected by the comfort that the mattress provided. Tommy scans his surroundings, at the old yet somehow familiar white walls. Rolling, he spotted a picture frame on top of an old wooden cabinet. He examined it closely from afar. The picture was of a woman, a very beautiful woman in a white, and what he presumed to be a wedding dress. She stared at him from the picture, her luscious blue eyes staring into him. The gleaming white smile which mirrored that of her dress and the overall excitement she showed, flooded Tommy, like a wave of pure emotion. He stared at it as if trying to make some kind of connection. Rising in the distance the sun shone on the picture, yet his mind was still blank, as if some thief was stealing his thoughts every time one entered his mind. Frail old eyes continued to blankly stare as one question left his mind. Who is she?
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