I wrote this in about fifteen minutes the other day, then spent several days revising it, and have since submitted it to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (of which I am a subscriber).
I sat on the edge of the bed beside the motionless man. He was alive, and his eyes were open, but he was completely unresponsive.
I was writing down a few notes pertaining to an idea of a story I was working on, and looked over at him from time to time to see if there was any change in his demeanor.
“Well, you had a lucky break, old boy,” I said to him, patting him on the leg. “You’re still alive, for what merit that still has to you. I hope that you come fully back before long.”
We went way back, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on
how we knew each other than that, ironically, despite a lack of memories pertaining to it, we had a very close relationship.
The room had no windows – though, oddly, it was well lit with what appeared to be sunlight – and no doors for me to enter or leave by.
Three people walked through a nonexistent door into the room: a man who appeared to be a doctor, and a woman and boy who both appeared to be in quite a state of shock. The woman’s eyes were tinged red from tears.
I arose from my place on the bed at their entrance. The woman and boy were quite familiar to me, thought I couldn’t say where I had seen them before.
I stuck out my hand to shake theirs and offered a greeting, but they all ignored me completely.
“I’m afraid to inform you that your husband has shown no signs of recovery,” the doctor was saying.
“Ah, he’s your husband?” I asked the woman. That must’ve been how I knew them; just in passing when we were getting together or… something. I couldn’t say what we did together, really. I knew – thought – that he was a writer, just as I was, though I wouldn’t swear on it.
The woman, again, didn’t respond at all to my question, so
I stated it again. “You’re his wife?” I said, a bit louder this time, but just as I said it, the man on the bed groaned
slightly, and all four of us looked at him, my question to the woman forgotten in our suspense at his sudden reanimation.
After a moment of silence, the doctor looked back at the other two. “These sorts of things are fairly common in our brain-damaged patients, just a few nerves randomly firing in unison as a coincidence.”
The woman burst into tears, and I walked over to her and put an arm around her shoulders. “There, there, it will be all right. I’m sure… he’ll be fine before long.”
The hesitation was caused by me failing to remember his name. I mentally shook myself. Must’ve just been nerves at everything that had happened interfering with my cognitive abilities.
I began to pat her shoulder, but found that it had no substance; my arm just went straight through. Or perhaps…
A sudden thought struck me and I rushed over to a mirror that I now found was hanging on a wall near… a window, the window through which the sun had been shining all along. I looked into the mirror and saw myself and gasped in shock in realization just as my image started fading away and…
The man on the bed took a sudden breath and blinked his eyes, getting them to focus for the first time in a while.