After the fire

“So, can you start over from the beginning?”

Her head hurt. The light was too bright above the man. She still felt a little dizzy. She wondered if she should worry about sleeping.

“I already told the other officer,” she said.

He shook his head. “No, he’s not police.”

“No?” She rubbed her forehead.

“No. He’s a paramedic.”

She let her eyes close. I don’t have time for this, she thought. Annie will be upset. She must be waiting –

“Listen, I have to pick up my daughter.”

“No, you have to tell me what happened. Your husband’s been called. I’m sure he can get her.”

“My husband?”

She looked down at her lap. The floor was formerly white tiles that had cracked and lost their sheen.

“I was driving to get my daughter.”

“Where was your daughter?”

“At the …”

“What’s your daughter’s name?”

“Annie. She was at dance. She takes tap and jazz.”

“And where is her class?”

“On…”

“Can you remember the name of the street?”

“No,” she said. Her hand wiped her eye. The pain in her head swelled and subsided.

“I’m sure your husband will get her. Can you tell me what happened on your way to get her? I need you to say it.”

“I don’t know,” she said and covered her face.

“Okay,” he said. He crouched before her and put his hand on her knee. “I’ll check back later, then.”

When she looked again, he was gone and the door was closed. She let her back ease into the chair. Her head hurt. She looked around at the walls and out the window. There was no sound in the room.

The door opened and a woman pushed a cart into the room. “Are you hungry, dear? Thirsty? Is everything ok? I have a couple of pills for you.”

“Oh, thank-you, my head is breaking in two.”

“There, now. That will be better.”

She picked up a clipboard from her cart and marked something on it with a pen.

“Can you tell me what day it is, dear?”

She thought hard. Annie had dance on Tuesday and Thursday. “Thursday,” she guessed.

“Mm-hmm,” and more writing on the clipboard.

“I can’t find my watch, do you know what time it is?”

“You should get some rest. The doctor will be in soon.” She pushed the cart out and closed the door behind her.

She leaned back to feel the chair behind her but it wasn’t there. She looked around again and saw she was on a bed. She looked around again and saw the room was not where she had just been.

“What’s happening?”

“How often have you been having this dream?” he asked.

She took her hand off her face. The doctor was sitting in a brown leather chair, she was sitting in what her father would have called an easy chair. The room looked like suede.

“Dream?”

He looked over at her without moving. “Are you ok? Do you need to go back to your room?”

Maybe. Maybe maybe maybe. I want to go back. Something is missing here and I want to get it back. I think I need something more here. I think I see it now. I think it’s just a fantasy. I think you made me wrong and made everything go to shit. This earth baked my life. This earth baked my life. This earth baked my life. I am a golden goddess born but burned to blackened capon. And this is my inheritance – a world of morons and psychopaths who think I have made a mistake. But it’s all been taken. And the blisters won’t pop – they just press more and more….

She smiled. “Hello.”

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