It was bright. When I opened my eyes, all I could see was light. It felt like I had never seen it before; it was unfamiliar and painful.
And then faces. Faces of people I didn’t know. Why are they looking at me like that? Who are they?
“Honey? How are you feeling?” A woman with velvety black hair and tear-stained eyes peered down at me.
“Sorry?” I glanced at the other people; there was a man with piercing green eyes, a fluffy looking beard and chestnut brown hair, accompanied by two younger women.
They must have been the man and woman’s daughters, considering the girls’ chestnut hair and green eyes.
“Ash you were out for like a week!” Laughed the younger of the two women, tears threatening to cascade down her face.
Ash. That’s me, right? I think so. “Asher! Asher Montgomery, come give your big sis a hug!”
“Sis?” I blinked, realising these strangers aren’t strangers at all - they’re family. MY family.
“Sweetie, I’m so glad you’re ok! Had us all worried for a moment there” my sister replied, glancing at my parents and other sister. “What happened?” Someone had to tell me.
All I could remember so far was my own name and fragments of memories involving the four people surrounding me. They all looked at each other, then back down at me.
“You were hit by a car.” My dad looked me in the eyes “we were told there was some damage to your brain”.
My mum began sobbing and held onto my hand. “But you’re ok, my love! You’re all ok” she gave me a watery smile, tears still streaming down her cheeks.
“Funny. I was hit by car. Figured I’d remember something dramatic like that” I giggled to myself, but stopped when I noticed the horrified looks on my parents’ faces.
“Your really don’t remember?” My older sister, Annia, asked. “Nope” I replied, realising why they were worried.
“My brain’s probably fine though, I can remember you all so it’s not all gone at least” I said cheerily, hoping to raise their spirits.
It was a major flop.
My dad walked to the hospital room door and turned back to us. “I’m calling the doctor. We’ll get you checked up on. You’re going to be fine, Asher.”
He left, and my mum immediately resumed her crying.“I’m sorry, mum. Really. I don’t want to make you cry”
I could feel the tears pricking my eyes, a lump growing in my throat.
“No, honey, you did nothing wrong” she wiped her face again, giving me her best smile.
“You really can’t remember anything?” My oldest sister asked again, squeezing my shoulder. I did a mental eye-roll, and assured her I wasn’t joking when I replied earlier.
Then the door swung open, and a doctor followed by my dad marched in.
“Good to see you’re awake, Asher.” My sisters parted to make space for him by my side, but my mum stayed next to me, gripping my hand.
“How are you feeling?” He asked me, looking down at his clipboard and rearranging his glasses on his nose.
“Kinda tired? Other than that I feel fine” I shrugged. “That’s good to know, at least.” He glanced at my mother.
“I have the results from last week’s brain scan. Everyone take a deep breath; the main stress is over. Asher is out of the danger zone.”
My mum visibly relaxed into her seat, releasing her death-grip on my hand ever so slightly.
“The bad news is: your hippocampus was damaged in the accident, and as a result, you have retrograde amnesia.” The death-grip returned.
The doctor peered over his glasses at me “you’ll be fine, but many of your memories up until now will be gone. This form of amnesia affects newer memories first. It’s highly doubtful you’ll remember anything from the past 2-5 years.”
My sister, Alicia, gasped in sync with my mum. The doctor cleared his throat and continued. “However, your childhood memories should begin coming back to you soon.” He gave me a gentle smile. “It will be ok, Asher.”
He turned to my parents and smiled “keep him at home for a couple of months, let him get used to life again. Don’t let him go places on his own; he could become triggered by something, and have an anxiety attack.”
He turned back to me, and moved his glasses onto his head “from what I’ve heard, you’re prone to those anyway, so your condition will increase your chances of having one.”
My mum was crying again, my dad holding her head to his chest and rubbing circles into her back.
“Take it easy, kiddo” the doctor smiled once more, then took his clipboard and left me with my family.
“Everything will be different now, Asher” my dad said, nodding at me. I grimaced. “Not like I can remember what was ‘normal’ before anyway”.