The question echoed in my mind. All that would come back in was blank space. Emptiness. My eyes opened, and it was blindingly white all around. I squinted my eyes to get used to the brightness. I heaved in a lot of air and breathed like I’d never breathed before. The picture in front of my eyes was still blurred, still out of focus. Nothing was clear. Slowly, the pupil shrunk, and the vision cleared. A person was leaning over me, examining me with an indifferent expression in his eyes. He pressed the nerves of my wrist to check my pulse. Slowly, he removed the tubes sticking from the tip of my little toe, and from the large machines that rested on the side, and helped me sit up. My legs were shivering at the slightest movement, and it took me long to bend my legs to sit properly. The doctor was patient, but his expression remained the same.
I tried to talk to him, but the words wouldn’t come out. It was like at the prospect of speaking, my insides had come to a standstill, and were thinking of what to do. I struggled as I tried physically to signal the voice box to start vibrating, but it wasn’t of any use. It was after a long time of opening my mouth and trying to utter a word that my mind realized what it had to do and I finally uttered a word. Well, not exactly a word, but a long yelp of both success and desperation. The doctor raised his eyebrows and looked at me with indifference, and continued to press my knees to make them stable. I looked at him now and finally spoke clearly.
“Where am I?”
“You are exactly where you should be right now. Let me finish my work, and I’ll tell you what you need to know. Now, quieten down.”
The expression on his face didn’t change once while he said this. His voice was comforting, sympathetic, but bored at the same time.
As he detached the wire from the machine that lay at my side, a hissing sound came, and it flattened to the side of a small table, which he stowed away, in a corner of the room. A corner, which I couldn’t really see, because the room was so white, that it was hard to make out where the room ended. There was the doctor or whatever I could call him, healthy but pale, his skin a vibrant color of beige, and eyes that would be colorful and vibrant in a better mood.
He stepped away from me after working on the tip of my toes, stretching each one into shape. I could see him fully now.
No long doctor’s coat, no stethoscope around him, he looked like a normal person, not the average doctor you’d meet across the street. He wore normal clothes, light crimson color with a little white and black here and there. The outfit was weird but suiting him. It was a rather satisfying place; it felt good to be there, but still felt somewhat out of place for no reason.
Suddenly, he spoke.
“So you wanted to know what’s up. What is happening here? It’s simple. You wouldn’t realize it, none of them do, but then most of them don’t wake up from their slumber like you just did. You must be particularly disoriented about who you are, currently.”
I thought to myself for a name, but my head gave me more emptiness. I couldn’t remember things properly. They were coming to my head and going through it, not stopping at a place inside, just whizzing past like a clip playing on fast forward. Always the same clip. But I couldn’t make out much from it. I nodded in response. I was disoriented indeed.
“Let me start from the basics. You are a memory. An old, old memory from years ago of a person whom only you and I know. And possibly, some other people like you know. You are like a pod, a ball, in a huge ball pit of memories. This ball pit has many people like you, many little pods, sleeping in their little slumber. Sometimes I wake them up and send them across, creating the effect of nostalgia. Other times, they remain where they are, passing time by moving around inside, something moving them across each other, creating a ripple. But sometimes, one of you burst. Like a balloon losing its air, you slowly start to descend into the depths and come here, right to me. My job is to refill you, exactly like they fill balloons, and send you back up so that you’re remembered again. You’re a forgotten memory but I still hold you and will have you remembered again. These tubes you see, will nothing but refill you with the air that makes you float. In here, we call it hope. The ones who don’t wake up through this process just go back up and stay in the huge ball pit. The little ones like you who do, ascend up to the top of the mind, and onto the zenith, where you are remembered again. Good luck going back up there. My work is done, and I guess I’ve said enough.”
I understood most of what the person said. After the treatment, I did feel a bit lighter. Not just lighter, I felt like I was floating.
And floating I was. Slowly, I drifted away from the white, and only the doctor was visible. Everything was clear inside, but one question remained.
“Who are you?” I shouted across.
For the first time, I saw him smile as he said,
“I’m the mind.”