A work of fiction written in response to The Daily Post writing prompt, Sink or Swim.
I woke up with beads of sweat trickling down on the side of my face. I wanted to wipe it but my hands felt heavy on my side. I noticed the IV dripping on my left, the liquid fell through the tube and went into my veins. Everything was a blur, I tried to pin point the reason as to why I’m in the hospital right now. I know that much that I am in a hospital; I find it incredibly stupid when people in movies woke up and asked where they are when it is beyond obvious that they’re in a hospital, surely these people have seen hospital in their life to know one, right?
I noticed a stirring to my right. A heap of black mass was crouching next to me. It took me a couple of seconds to register that the black mass was my wife’s hair. I can’t see her face but I’m sure it’s not a pleasant view to look at, although I’m also sure I am not better. She blinked her eyes at me, it seems like she’s struggling to form a coherent sentence. She must have been sleeping next to me since last night, if it’s noon right now judging from the bright sun outside the room. She must have asked me something, but I think I’m also struggling to form a coherent set of hearing and forming sentences; she walked towards the window and lift the curtains a bit to let the sunshine in, it is definitely noon, then.
In a rush everything came back to me, I was overwhelmed at how my memory plays its tricks on me, it felt like someone was holding down your head down a toilet as they flush it down, or like you are constantly drowning no matter how hard you try to stay afloat.
I remembered the translucent light, ever so dramatic and romantic. I’m not sure if the lamps in the hotel room were that translucent or was it my memory playing tricks on me. It still amazes me that I can find beauty in romantic lighting when I can’t even pat my own son for his painting that was praised by every single person who saw it hanged on the wall in our living room. I remember brushing her long hair with my fingers, her hair was so smooth that no tangled of hair stuck on my fingers; for a glimpse of seconds I tried to remember whether or not I have ever brush my wife’s short jet black hair like I’m doing right now.
Oh my God! What have I done? Who is this woman? Why am I in a hotel room?
I woke up with beads of sweat on the side of my face. Is this a dream? Why do I get the feeling that I’ve experienced this? I looked to my right, expecting my wife to sleep next to me. She’s not there. So, this is not a dream. But, my son is at the corner of the room. He’s sitting on the sofa, it looked like he’s reading but then I noticed his eyes were set exactly on me. We locked eyes but neither of us said anything, he stood up and went outside, all the time locking his eyes on me, on my eyes. Later came in my wife; again, she must have asked me something but I can’t pin point exactly what she said. She turned on the side lamp on my headboard. It was too bright. It hurts my eyes, I had to close it for a moment before I could adjust myself to the brightness of the light.
I remembered feeling of being tossed around, but not falling. I was so dizzy and confused. I can feel a tightness in my chest, I can’t breathe properly and yet I can’t even tell the people next to me about what I’m feeling inside. Everything seems to be moving in slow motion, and yet I can tell it’s not because the feeling of being tossed around is not something that is slow and beautiful. I decided to keep my head straight, see if it would made me feel better, see if the feeling of being tossed around would subside. I saw the rows of bright lights. I noticed that I’m in a hospital, I’m being taken to the Emergency Unit, I can deduce that much.
I heard a loud bang behind me, I’m guessing that’s the door swung open. I’m entering the Emergency Unit. Moments before the door was closing I saw my wife, my son, and that woman. My wife looked frantic, her hair was a tangled mess. My son looked confuse and angry. The woman looked flushed and out of place, like she didn’t belong there.
“Of course, she does not belong there. Just because you had a cardiac arrest, surely it does not affect your memory, right?”
“Oh, you’re awake? Well, I mean you have been awake and asleep the whole time. But it’s nice that you’re coherent enough to say something. Mum was already panicking the whole time, she thought you might have been mute because of the cardiac arrest, although it’s obviously impossible, right? Or is it possible? Wait, I’m going to get Mum.”
“Wait! No! Don’t! Can’t you just stay here for a bit while?”
“Sure, but I don’t see the point of not calling Mum. She would know what to do right now, now that you’ve properly awake and talking.”
“Just get me a glass of water, please.”
“Well, that’s new. You never said please before. Here you go.”
“Another new thing. I don’t want to jinx you or anything, but maybe you should have had a cardiac arrest since ages ago; it improved your manners tremendously. You sure you don’t want me to call Mum?”
“No, just keep things like this for a little bit while. Can you tell me something, though?”
“Depends, do I know what you want me to tell you?”
“I think you do. Why did you say she does not belong there? Was I talking in my sleep? Do you know about whom I was talking about?”
“Oh come on! This is too good to be true? What is this? Are you seriously pretending you don’t know what you’re talking about?”
“Just tell me what you know, please. I’m so tired right now.”
“Dad, of course I know about this woman you’re talking about. Hell, I’m sure everyone does. And, yes, to answer your question, you do talk in your sleep. Mostly it’s just a mumble but sometime you would say things pretty clearly. Just like moments before you woke up, you clearly were saying, ‘she does not seem to belong here’. Which of course, naturally I know instantly who this person you were talking about.”
“Who is she?”
“Can you really be amnesiac after getting a cardiac arrest? Wait, let me google that.”
“Please just answer my question first. Then you are free to google anything you want.”
“Dad, she’s your mistress. She’s the woman you’ve been seeing behind Mum’s back for years. Well, behind my back too, because when you cheat on your wife, you cheat on all your family as well. Actually, technically speaking, you’re not cheating on us anymore since 4 years ago. Mum filed a divorce when she knew about your affairs, and you were more than happy to divorce her. Do you remember that? The moment you kicked us out of the house when your divorce was final? You literally put no care whatsoever about us after that. I’m surprised that pathetic excuse of a woman called Mum to informed us that you were hospitalised for a cardiac arrest, and here I am referring to your mistress although I’m not sure whether or not she’s still your mistress now. Are you, by any chance, married to her?”
I left my phone in my room, I noticed about it when I was already in the office. During lunch, I went back home to retrieve the phone. That day, my wife and son was also at home during lunch. My son injured himself during soccer’s practice at school, so he was excused from school and my wife had to picked him up. She was taking a call on my phone and when she turned around because I entered our room, I knew instantly that this room would never be our room again. She knew about the affair. She walked out of my room, she calmly gave me my phone, she took our son, and I never saw them again until the next month when she file for a divorce.
I felt relieved when she had filed for a divorce. I can kick her out of my life without a huge battle of custody and other thing. All she want was for our marriage to end. I pushed them out of my life. I was living my life to the fullest for the first time, or so I think at that time. Life felt like a rush of waves splashing on my face, at least it was like that during the first few years. Later on, life no longer felt like a ride on a yacht but more like a slow and tiresome ride of a small boat, fighting the sea’s currents.
I was discharged from the hospital a couple of days later. My ex-wife and my son helped me get on my car. They insist on not wanting to join me to my house, or what used to be their house, or for a lunch. I was in my car alone. I was in my house alone. My mistress left me when she knew I had a cardiac arrest, apparently she does not want to be babysitting an old man, whose money would run out to pay for his health. My son promised me we could go for lunch or dinner every weekend, but he warned me that there should never be any contact whatsoever between me and his mum, my ex-wife.
I am alone. I am no longer rowing my boat gently down the sea. I am a lone island waiting for its time to drowned or be eaten by the coming waves. How do I survive this? Maybe I should get into my time machine and asked my younger self about this possibility, before he decides to get into a pointless affairs and left his family. Alas, there is no time machine. This is what is left of me. I don’t know what’s the outcome to this, but I can try to live it everyday and see what becomes of me.