In the mirror there is a face, quiet, pale. It smiles, it frowns, it yawns. It stares at the brown eyes, the thin lips, the high cheekbones. They tell me that it’s my face, that I am me, that I exist, that I have a name. Gineva. They tell me a lot of things but I feel none of it. They tell me the tall man standing in the corner by the window is my husband, that I have a child. A girl. Five years old. I hear the words but they don’t connect with wherever my brain is floating.
I can feel my breath, in, out, in, out. My heart drums away in my chest. I know I am alive, but I have no interest in food or water. They tell me that is why I am tethered to a hose. I can’t walk, I can’t run. I am stuck here like I am glued. I have a mouth but no words flow out of it. I have hands but they touch nothing, feel nothing.
My husband calls my name. I hear it. It echoes through the emptiness in my head. Bounce, bounce, bounce. If there was anything to hurt, it would probably hurt. They tell me I am lucky to be alive. What does that mean? Is breathing alive? Are eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that beats but it all means nothing — is this the definition of alive? I wonder if I should mourn Gineva. Was she fun? Was she smart? Was she bitchy? Was she a good lover, a good mother, a good anything?
I hear my husband tell me to come back to him. I’m right here, can’t you see? I am right here. He is crying. I don’t know why. I am not dead. They tell me I am not dead, that I am lucky to be alive, so why is this man crying?
I don’t know why I am here. I don’t know where here is. It is an awkward place, busy, loud. Beep, beep, beep, say the machines. Maybe I am a machine, and I am broken. Do men cry because the machine is broken?
Sometimes I see a cloud. Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it chokes. They don’t know about the cloud because they can’t see it. It is my own cloud. A Gineva cloud. My Gineva cloud scares me. When it comes, I can’t hear. I can’t see the man in the corner who is crying, I can’t see the face in the mirror, the face I don’t know, the face they tell me is mine. The cloud wants to take me away. That’s all I know.
There comes a day when the husband in the corner is no longer there. There comes a day when it is no longer day but night always. I am still a broken machine. The face in the mirror is not the face it once was. They tell me this is my face — sunken eyes, crevices in the skin, sagging jowls. No, this is not my face. This is the face of the dead. I have battled the cloud, and won. I am still alive. Don’t you understand?
I have forgotten my name, but it doesn’t matter. The man in the corner is no longer there. He no longer calls my name. A woman in white calls me Hon when she is fiddling with the machine that goes beep, beep, beep. I don’t answer, of course, because I have no voice. Waiting, waiting, waiting. That is what I do. I don’t know for what.
Sometimes a woman with blond hair visits me. She stands at the window, sits in the chair, calls me Mom. I don’t know what this means. Who is she? Where is the man in the corner who is no longer there? The woman sometimes holds my hand. So cold, she says. But, don’t you know that I am lucky to be alive? Breathe in, breathe out. So lucky. So very, very lucky.