Chapter 2:

A Child's World

Who am I?

It turned out that a restless night of nigh-sleeplessness wasn't the best thing for a weak, sickly girl to experience. She felt awful when she packed her things, but the desperate urge to get back home, a place she almost forgot, kept her going.Bookmark here

Kara wasn't very good at it.Bookmark here

The doctor could tell that something was wrong immediately, though he allowed her parents to have the last say.Bookmark here

They didn't seem to care, either way.Bookmark here

Both of them just did what Kara wanted and brought her home, then left her in her room.Bookmark here

"If you need anything, call us, alright?" her father said.Bookmark here

"Lunch will be ready soon, but if you feel hungry before then, just tell me. We should have something for you," her mother said.Bookmark here

They were so distant, it actually frightened her a bit.Bookmark here

"That's alright," she said, watching as they sighed in what she interpreted as relief. "I'll unpack now."Bookmark here

They nodded and scurried out the room.Bookmark here

The door closed with a sound Kara didn't know she missed, but now that she heard the slow creaking noise, she played around with it for a few minutes.Bookmark here

"Kara, is everything alright?" her mother called.Bookmark here

"Oh, yes, mother!" she called back.Bookmark here

She blushed at how childish she just acted.Bookmark here

Playing with the door, who does that these days? What did the kids even do these days? Most of the important bits of common knowledge for a kid her age seemed to have been drowned in the abyss of her coma.Bookmark here

To quell the craving of making the door creak its soothing melodies, Kara fell onto her bed.Bookmark here

Her room in the hospital had been alright, but this was on another level.Bookmark here

Nothing beats home.Bookmark here

Home, sweet home.Bookmark here

Her home was the nectar of her life.Bookmark here

She never wanted to leave.Bookmark here

As such thoughts overwhelmed her, she didn't have it in her to stand up. Now that she was home, the excitement subsided for a sense of calm she didn't expect.Bookmark here

Her body refused to move, and so she merely looked around her room, searching for clues of her life, clues of her as a person.Bookmark here

She didn't know if she forgot or if it was simply the feeling of remembering memories she hadn't bothered to look for in years, but there were some surprised among her findings.Bookmark here

Letters stuck out of a cardboard box, filled to the brim, stashed under her desk. If that was an attempt at hiding them, it didn't work. The only thing that kept them from being read was a shadow falling over them, but that barely even counted as darkness.Bookmark here

It could work during the night, but now...Bookmark here

She vowed to check the box out when she had time.Bookmark here

The next thing she noticed was a shelf of school materials.Bookmark here

Just... school materials.Bookmark here

It had struck her as strange that she actually stuck to her schoolwork so diligently in the hospital, too, but did this mean that she was an honor student?Bookmark here

Did this accident just mess up her final scores, completely?Bookmark here

A kind-of panic mode overwhelmed her, and she moved on.Bookmark here

A cupboard, probably filled with clothes, a wall full of pictures, and a fireplace with actual wood stacked up a corner of the room.Bookmark here

That was the strangest thing in her room.Bookmark here

No books, no instruments, no smartphone, no television, no laptop... nothing. She didn't even have any games or something.Bookmark here

Was this really how she spent her life?Bookmark here

Schoolwork and nothing else?Bookmark here

That couldn't be.Bookmark here

There was this huge hole in furniture right next to her bed that seemed ominously artificial. It consisted of a few square meters of empty space, enough for all sorts of things.Bookmark here

Maybe her parents wanted her focus on her studies, first and foremost.Bookmark here

She had a lot to catch up to, she knew that much.Bookmark here

Kara sighed.Bookmark here

This was a bit of a let-down, but all the same, it felt like home.Bookmark here

She wasn't about to complain about it.Bookmark here

Having discovered everything her room had to offer in less than 10 minutes, she thought about getting out of bed, only to snuggle deeper into her sheets.Bookmark here

This was enough.Bookmark here

First, get some sleep...Bookmark here

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In the end, she was confined to her room for a few weeks, after that. That's not because her parents imprisoned her in there, or anything. They were the only ones who wouldn't care if she left, for that matter.Bookmark here

Kara fell ill.Bookmark here

She had gotten too excited the night before going home, and while she somehow fooled her parents into believing her secluding-act of studying in her room all day, Nia didn't have any of that.Bookmark here

Her big sister only needed to take one look at her before she sighed in exasperation, shaking her head with a wry smile.Bookmark here

"I can't believe you..."Bookmark here

"*sniff* Sorry, sis... *sniff*"Bookmark here

"Please, Kara, don't cry... it's all right. Just stay in here for a bit, you're sure to get better..."Bookmark here

And she did, but only after Doctor Lederer personally paid her a visit, the kind woman from physical therapy with him.Bookmark here

"This is quite normal for coma-wakers," he said, taking her temperature. The dark bags under his eyes had turned a black shade of purple, now. They might never regain their normal color if he continued like that. "We should've seen it coming, to be honest. It might've been too early... What do you think, Zera?"Bookmark here

"She did quite well, but maybe we shouldn't stop her physical therapy just yet?" she suggested, cocking her head. She had this weird sense of grace about her Kara liked a lot. "Maybe another month or two after she gets healthy again, and only then allow her back to school? Though she might have to repeat the year at this rate."Bookmark here

"It won't bother her now when she doesn't remember her friends, but eventually, she will remember, and then... it would be too hard on her. That#s the work of the school, though, and not ours. It's up to her parents to decide that."Bookmark here

"I'll see to that," Nia immediately chimed in, ready to help. Doctor Lederer raised a brow. "Her parents took some time off work for her waking up, but they'll be back soon and it'll be up to me to look after her, then."Bookmark here

"I see... and you don't work, Miss Jakobson?"Bookmark here

Kara winced.Bookmark here

She never liked her last name.Bookmark here

Kara Jakobson... just repeating it three times made her head spin like it was some sort of voodoo curse. Kara Jakobson...Bookmark here

Kara Jakobson...Bookmark here

See, her head was spinning... oh, this was bad!Bookmark here

"Kara?"Bookmark here

"Sorry, sorry... I'm fine, it's alright."Bookmark here

While Nia looked close to panic, the doctor was calm.Bookmark here

"For now, just take all the time you need to get healthy. Don't worry. This is nothing your body can't defeat. If you'll excuse me, now, we'll talk things over with your parents."Bookmark here

"Bye, bye, Kara," Zera said, winking at her.Bookmark here

She waved back, and Nia followed them with another worried glance over her shoulder. Once they were gone, Kara dropped the act.Bookmark here

Her head was spinning...Bookmark here

It must have been that name of hers...Bookmark here

That name...Bookmark here

She heard the doctor and his family speak downstairs, only as muffled noises, though, and she didn't even care all that much.Bookmark here

She closed her eyes and waited for the darkness to stop spinning like a fidget spinner, then allowed her body to drift off to sleep...Bookmark here

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A room without entertainment was amusingly boring. Kara found herself staring off into space more and more, daydreaming about her school, which was the next place she needed to go in order to rediscover the world she lived in prior to her accident.Bookmark here

It was a bad predicament because her will to stand up and her will to rest were equal forces, waging war inside of her body all day and night.Bookmark here

Her mind wanted to stand up, to live.Bookmark here

Her body wanted to get healthy, to rest.Bookmark here

Kara was caught between the notions, knowing that both were fine choices.Bookmark here

Even here, the weekends were her favorite time. Nia didn't have to leave during the day, and the sisters spent most of their time together. These were Kara's happiest memories after waking up, and maybe even before that.Bookmark here

Something told her these were on a happiness-scale she seldom experienced even in her life before the coma.Bookmark here

Nia just talked about the world and what she wants to do for a living. She had spent the last year studying way up North, but she takes online classes now, all to look after her sister. Kara hoped she could hold her good grades, even then.Bookmark here

Hearing about that inspired her to work harder, too... but the school books did a poor job of explaining the complex subjects on their own, without the help of a teacher.Bookmark here

Her parents started working again after two weeks of her coming home, and they hadn't looked very enthusiastic when she asked them, either.Bookmark here

She'd much rather not bother them about these things.Bookmark here

"Say, how am I supposed to find out x's value?"Bookmark here

"Don't you ever talk about anything but school?"Bookmark here

It was early in the afternoon. Kara felt exhausted from staring into space all morning and making the door creak while her sister was out to buy the groceries. Even her long nap after lunch didn't really help, so she decided to energize herself with a round of studying...Bookmark here

Yes, even Kara knew how pathetic that sounded.Bookmark here

"Well, can you help it? I don't have physical therapy on Saturday, and there isn't much else to talk about. You don't even tell me about that ominous blank space over there," Kara said, rattling off her usual list of complaints.Bookmark here

They had held this conversation a dozen times, already, or so she felt.Bookmark here

"Yeah, that space," Nia mumbled.Bookmark here

She didn't look ready to talk about it today, either.Bookmark here

"Can't you get me a book or something, at least?" she asked.Bookmark here

"For what? To study?"Bookmark here

"To read, Nia. I'm bored. I'd even devour one of those hardback-classics you always warn me about."Bookmark here

Nia laughed.Bookmark here

"You, read a book? I want to see that."Bookmark here

"Try me," Kara challenged defiantly. Nia watched her in silence as the pencil stopped... yet another dead end. She tossed the notebook through the room. "I can't believe I've been sitting on that for two days, now!"Bookmark here

"Is that why your notebooks look so terrible?" Nia jested, picking it up again. "∫x³dx=? An integral calculation, huh? Can't say I've seen that in a while. Trust me, you'll only need that if you plan on becoming a mathematician."Bookmark here

"What if I want to?" Kara said, sulking.Bookmark here

"Be happy, Kara. That's one of the easier integrals to calculate. Did you skip ahead a few pages? Those become terrible later on!"Bookmark here

"Thanks for the encouragement, sis..."Bookmark here

Another chuckle.Bookmark here

"You're welcome."Bookmark here

Kara could only sigh at the carefree nature of her big sister. In an attempt to get her thoughts away from the defiant math problem, she looked at her clock...Bookmark here

"Almost 5 pm..."Bookmark here

"What of it?"Bookmark here

Kara looked at Nia.Bookmark here

"The last couple of weeks, every Saturday around this time, someone came to visit. Was it the postman? I never went to look... I was just wondering if this person would come again today-"Bookmark here

Ding Dong!Bookmark here

Nia's gaze shot to the door.Bookmark here

"Don't worry. I'll go," she said.Bookmark here

"Yeah."Bookmark here

With quick strides, Nia crossed the room and paced down the stairs. Who was it? Someone she knew? Still, Kara found it weird that they came by every week around the same time. Now that she thought about it, her window pointed to the streets, didn't it?Bookmark here

As the voices downstairs stopped and Nia shut the door, Kara saw Bonnie skip away from the house, schoolbag still on her back.Bookmark here

She stopped and looked up, directly at her window.Bookmark here

Her eyes widened when she noticed Kara, and they exchanged an awkward wave.Bookmark here

"Would you look at that," Nia said when she came back. "A bunch of homework. As usual..."Bookmark here

"You mean there's more than this?" Kara groaned, going back to her sister's side.Bookmark here

"I mean there are more than four months of this," she said, skipping through the sheets. "Let's divide them by class, as least. By experience, you only need to catch up with stuff like Maths and Physics, anyway. The rest changes topics all the time, and the past ones are forgotten, then, aren't they?"Bookmark here

"If you say so..."Bookmark here

That seemed like bad advice to Kara, but she didn't say anything. She had enough stuff to do as it was.Bookmark here

"Where are mom and dad?"Bookmark here

"Out," Nia curtly answered. "They should be back tomorrow."Bookmark here

"Why are they out on a Saturday?" Kara complained, throwing a playful tantrum by using her sister as drums. In reality, this was only an excuse to hug her. "I want to eat as a family."Bookmark here

A jolt raced through Nia's body.Bookmark here

She quickly hugged Kara so tight, she couldn't move her arms anymore. Gone was the tantrum. Here was the hug.Bookmark here

It was a nice hug.Bookmark here

"They care about you in their own way, Kara."Bookmark here

"I know, sis. I know..."Bookmark here

They spent a while like that, then they moved to the bed. They snuggled against each other, basking in the heat and affection. Kara probably fell asleep as when she woke up, the sun was already down.Bookmark here

"You awake?" Nia gently moved some straggling strands of hair out of Kara's face, tucking them behind her ear. "Are you hungry? Should I make dinner?"Bookmark here

"Yeah. Yeah, that would be nice."Bookmark here

"Alright."Bookmark here

Making a grimace at Kara's sounds of protest, she left the bed and crossed the room. Kara pushed herself up and followed her.Bookmark here

Nia seemed hesitant when she noticed.Bookmark here

"When can I leave?" Kara asked.Bookmark here

That seemed to surprise her sister.Bookmark here

There were so many things she didn't understand.Bookmark here

Nia looked at her like she was a curious animal, one she'd never seen before but knew she'd love, anyways. There was no animosity in her eyes.Bookmark here

"Do you want to?"Bookmark here

Kara nodded.Bookmark here

She took the hand Nia offered her and finally left that room of hers.Bookmark here

It always felt like she was expected to stay in there, as if leaving was... bad. Unnatural. Kara realized once again that she didn't even understand herself.Bookmark here

It was all so difficult.Bookmark here

Nina Kamiya
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