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.
Kara wasn't very good at it.
The doctor could tell that something was wrong immediately, though he allowed her parents to have the last say.
They didn't seem to care, either way.
Both of them just did what Kara wanted and brought her home, then left her in her room.
"If you need anything, call us, alright?" her father said.
"Lunch will be ready soon, but if you feel hungry before then, just tell me. We should have something for you," her mother said.
They were so distant, it actually frightened her a bit.
"That's alright," she said, watching as they sighed in what she interpreted as relief. "I'll unpack now."
They nodded and scurried out the room.
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.
"Kara, is everything alright?" her mother called.
"Oh, yes, mother!" she called back.
She blushed at how childish she just acted.
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.
To quell the craving of making the door creak its soothing melodies, Kara fell onto her bed.
Her room in the hospital had been alright, but this was on another level.
Nothing beats home.
Home, sweet home.
Her home was the nectar of her life.
She never wanted to leave.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It could work during the night, but now...
She vowed to check the box out when she had time.
The next thing she noticed was a shelf of school materials.
Just... school materials.
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?
Did this accident just mess up her final scores, completely?
A kind-of panic mode overwhelmed her, and she moved on.
A cupboard, probably filled with clothes, a wall full of pictures, and a fireplace with actual wood stacked up a corner of the room.
That was the strangest thing in her room.
No books, no instruments, no smartphone, no television, no laptop... nothing. She didn't even have any games or something.
Was this really how she spent her life?
Schoolwork and nothing else?
That couldn't be.
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.
Maybe her parents wanted her focus on her studies, first and foremost.
She had a lot to catch up to, she knew that much.
This was a bit of a let-down, but all the same, it felt like home.
She wasn't about to complain about it.
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.
This was enough.
First, get some sleep...
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.
Kara fell ill.
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.
Her big sister only needed to take one look at her before she sighed in exasperation, shaking her head with a wry smile.
"I can't believe you..."
"*sniff* Sorry, sis... *sniff*"
"Please, Kara, don't cry... it's all right. Just stay in here for a bit, you're sure to get better..."
And she did, but only after Doctor Lederer personally paid her a visit, the kind woman from physical therapy with him.
"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?"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"I see... and you don't work, Miss Jakobson?"
She never liked her last name.
Kara Jakobson... just repeating it three times made her head spin like it was some sort of voodoo curse. Kara Jakobson...
See, her head was spinning... oh, this was bad!
"Sorry, sorry... I'm fine, it's alright."
While Nia looked close to panic, the doctor was calm.
"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."
"Bye, bye, Kara," Zera said, winking at her.
She waved back, and Nia followed them with another worried glance over her shoulder. Once they were gone, Kara dropped the act.
Her head was spinning...
It must have been that name of hers...
She heard the doctor and his family speak downstairs, only as muffled noises, though, and she didn't even care all that much.
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...
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.
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.
Her mind wanted to stand up, to live.
Her body wanted to get healthy, to rest.
Kara was caught between the notions, knowing that both were fine choices.
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.
Something told her these were on a happiness-scale she seldom experienced even in her life before the coma.
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.
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.
Her parents started working again after two weeks of her coming home, and they hadn't looked very enthusiastic when she asked them, either.
She'd much rather not bother them about these things.
"Say, how am I supposed to find out x's value?"
"Don't you ever talk about anything but school?"
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...
Yes, even Kara knew how pathetic that sounded.
"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.
They had held this conversation a dozen times, already, or so she felt.
"Yeah, that space," Nia mumbled.
She didn't look ready to talk about it today, either.
"Can't you get me a book or something, at least?" she asked.
"For what? To study?"
"To read, Nia. I'm bored. I'd even devour one of those hardback-classics you always warn me about."
"You, read a book? I want to see that."
"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!"
"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."
"What if I want to?" Kara said, sulking.
"Be happy, Kara. That's one of the easier integrals to calculate. Did you skip ahead a few pages? Those become terrible later on!"
"Thanks for the encouragement, sis..."
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...
"Almost 5 pm..."
"What of it?"
Kara looked at Nia.
"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-"
Nia's gaze shot to the door.
"Don't worry. I'll go," she said.
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?
As the voices downstairs stopped and Nia shut the door, Kara saw Bonnie skip away from the house, schoolbag still on her back.
She stopped and looked up, directly at her window.
Her eyes widened when she noticed Kara, and they exchanged an awkward wave.
"Would you look at that," Nia said when she came back. "A bunch of homework. As usual..."
"You mean there's more than this?" Kara groaned, going back to her sister's side.
"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?"
"If you say so..."
That seemed like bad advice to Kara, but she didn't say anything. She had enough stuff to do as it was.
"Where are mom and dad?"
"Out," Nia curtly answered. "They should be back tomorrow."
"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."
A jolt raced through Nia's body.
She quickly hugged Kara so tight, she couldn't move her arms anymore. Gone was the tantrum. Here was the hug.
It was a nice hug.
"They care about you in their own way, Kara."
"I know, sis. I know..."
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.
"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?"
"Yeah. Yeah, that would be nice."
Making a grimace at Kara's sounds of protest, she left the bed and crossed the room. Kara pushed herself up and followed her.
Nia seemed hesitant when she noticed.
"When can I leave?" Kara asked.
That seemed to surprise her sister.
There were so many things she didn't understand.
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.
"Do you want to?"
She took the hand Nia offered her and finally left that room of hers.
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.
It was all so difficult.