A Dark Comedy About Mistaken Identity
I only laugh when it hurts
by Lulu Martine
When I first woke up I flashed back on that previous hospital awakening after the accident back in the fall. I hurt all over, just like before, but the pain was distant and dull, just like before, because of medication. My chest hurt, my face hurt, even my feet hurt but mostly, my groin hurt.
It was a front-to-back, deep-set pain, like getting kicked there but it didn't get worse or better, it just stayed the same. The hernia, I thought, although that could get bad, then worse, then worst. Maybe this was how it hurt after they fixed it.
I could move but that hurt, too. I could move my hands and arms and those did not hurt. Wait a minute, I thought, isn't my arm supposed to be broken, too? My eyes opened.
"You're awake," someone said in a mellow but concerned voice. I moved my head to see a heavy-faced blonde woman I didn't know sitting right next to the bed in one of those padded sleeper chairs hospitals have for visitors who are going to stay in them all night.
I opened my mouth but she said, "Ah. Don't try to talk yet. They said you shouldn't try to talk for a few weeks."
Weeks? They? Who they? And why shouldn't I talk, I wondered. So I tried anyway. "Ah. Tah?" I whispered. That hurt, a lot, even my lips hurt, feeling stiff and bruised. I brought my hand up to my throat and felt a bandage there.
The woman beside my bed reached out a rather large hand and put it over my mouth, not pressing, just holding it there. "I'm serious, no talking for at least two weeks? Remember what the doctor said?"
I stared up at her, noting the heavy brows, the coarse skin, the voice that seemed lower than alto and the too blonde hair. I shook my head, just a bit, suddenly frightened of this strange person in my hospital room.
"You don't want to damage your new voice, honey," she said. "No talking, okay?"
This time I nodded and she took her hand away from my mouth.
"I'll call the nurse to see if you can sit up, I've got a detachable keyboard here and a laptop you can use to talk with but it's hard to do that lying down. Huh?" She smiled at me. "Your face is all bandaged but I can't wait to see how pretty you're going to be." She turned away to use the call signal.
I checked my face out with my fingers. I had bandages all over, my nose, my forehead, my chin, my mouth. In fact, I had only small openings at mouth, nose and eyes.
Once again, trauma or anesthesia had removed memories. I did remember talking about the surgery with my parents but I didn't remember checking into the hospital. Had something else happened? Had I been in another accident? How long ago were my most recent memories? I didn't know.
A nurse came in, a pretty woman wearing cross trainers and a shapeless green tunic and pants . "Sure, she can sit up. I'll crank the bed for her," she said when the big blonde asked.
The bed cranked up to a sitting angle revealed more pains, I gasped, or I would have if I could have but my voice reduced the noise to a whine.
"Is that better, Miss Lewis?" the nurse asked.
"Martine," said the blonde.
"Miss Martine," said the nurse. "Is that better?"
I stared at them. Miss? Martine? I started to open my mouth but they both put fingers to their lips, so I just shrugged. Maybe, I decided, I hadn't really woke up yet and this would all be very funny when I did.
And maybe it wouldn't.
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