The first thing I noticed was the smell: it was egg. No, not quite egg. Rather it was more of a Styrofoam kind of egg sandwich, clinical and tasteless. I unstuck my eyes and creaked out of the hospital bed, while pausing to stare at the white walls that were bleached with my imagination. I chewed on the processed breakfast, coughing, dryly salivating, and hating it. I took another bite. My mother made her famous omelette that night, It tastes just like fireworks we’d always say, but instead I was eating neutral egg.
My foreign finger tips untied the back of my patient gown and I placed a pair of washed out jeans onto my body, wondering why I would have ever chose to wear such taut and hard-edged denim. I exhaled.
My awkward and small hands felt their way to my cellphone, Are you OK? Call me I’m worried! Haven’t seen you since that night! Come to the bonfire! from Sarah, Connor, Becks, Kieran. These were names that felt alive but distant in the way I felt familiarity after looking at myself in the mirror after two weeks in the wilderness. These were friends, friends, I exhaled the word off of my alien tongue. My friends were loving, kind and worried about me.
I peeled off the sticker off my body, Claire Woodson, PHN: 9868981717, BE:UWAI 02, and knew the day I was hoping for was finally here: the release back into the warm footprints of my life.
The second thing I noticed was the taste of a good memory: ruined by consequence. Mike’s Hard Lemonade, the poison of choice tonight at the Happy Band-Aid Bonfire in light of my release, was again an ominous reflection of the past. As people tripped on their drunk feet around the fire, I moved deeper into a bush tasting Its lemony vodka flavour which sparked a distinct bitter-sweetness, not just in taste but in recollection. I recalled and drank, my thoughts grew vague and sticky. The taste bolted me back to that night, the dreamy way it made it so easy to talk to Connor, how easy it was to linger on his lips, to let me fingers cascade on his face, to smile, to get in the car, to drive, to wake up and smell egg.
I breathed, charcoal and vomit filled my nostrils.
The third thing I noticed was the noise: a sound I would have associated in my memory to friendship- but instead its context was unrecognizable.
It was Connor, my boyfriend, who I love. Love was real, even when he yodels in my ear:
“Claire! Check out Lisa’s Instagram, isn’t she just such a slut? I bet she doesn’t even put out like you.”
“Claire! You look really good, and by that I don’t mean lumpy at all. Lots of puddings in the hospital right?”
“Claire! Can you be quiet for a second, I need you to listen to me. You never listen to me!”
Maybe love was different than my daydream reminiscence, so to stop the noise I tried to notice the fourth thing, the touch. Our lips, slimy and gross, slow and wet, salivating and breathy, mouth gaping… I decided to take my footprints in a different direction.
The fourth thing I noticed was the sight, when I was back home and reaching for my cell-phone from Sarah, Connor, Becks, Kieran messaging me, Why did you look so disappointed last night? You know we are only friends with you because of him.
Friends, a word that was alien on my tongue.
The last thing I noticed: the egg. I had a bite of my mom’s omelette for breakfast the next day.
It tasted better than Styrofoam but it was far from fireworks.