When I close my eyes, there is one—and only one—image that hangs behind their lids: that of an irregular, angular shape set against a brilliant backdrop of blue.
I have no idea what it is.
I suppose it should bother me, not knowing what it is that I see, if it’s real or something my mind made up. But the wondering is so common, my ever-faithful companion in life, that this image is the least of my worries. My first memory is so new, so fresh, this image behind my eyelids is merely a fascination.
Five years ago, today, I awoke to a face that was at once dear and frighteningly foreign. The man who owned the face told me he was my husband—that we had married only the day before after nearly a year of courtship. I had no choice but to believe him, and have no choice still. I was in his bed. His arms were wrapped around me ever so gently. He loved me. And, perhaps most importantly, I had nothing within my head to tell me otherwise. I awoke blank, like a washed school slate.
It was hours before I discovered the one remnant of my past in this image. At least, I think it is my past. My mind, so new to this world around me, could not possibly have come up with this odd image. The dark shape looks something like a squat triangle with the corners cut off, seated underneath what could be a rectangle but for the pointed top. And, in that pointed rectangle, there is a hollowed out space. Within that space, there is a warped half-circle, swaying gently. And behind it all, a brilliant blue, a shade I have never seen in my short, real life. At least, I hope it’s real. Given my state upon awaking, I am not sure what this life is. It feels real. My husband, my children, the love that grows within me—I hope I am not dreaming it all. If anything must be the dream, my heart screams that it should be the image that dances on the edges of my sight.
It did take hours, after waking, to close my eyes long enough for the image to be clear. They flew open immediately upon the shock of seeing something so very vivid and different from my surroundings. Recovery took little time, and I once again shut my eyes to the world around me, studying the strange, impossible image that waited for me. My eyes were so long closed, my husband, who had been showing me our house, asked if I was tired or ill.
No, I replied. Just dreaming.
Of what, he inquired.
I opened my eyes, then. I was fiercely protective of this image, and I could not share it with a stranger when I was still a stranger to myself. It is nothing, I said. Nothing more than a wish to have my memories return.
At that, my husband came to my side and promised to do his best to help me find the happy memories I craved. I almost protested that I would be willing to bear the burden of sadness if it meant I knew who I was. However, the intentions of my husband were so kind that I let it pass. I thanked him for his care and asked if I could go back to my—our—room.
He said yes, but only if we could make one more stop. I remember supposing that one more stop could not make the day any more shocking that it already had been.
How wrong I was.
It was on that last stop, the veranda, that I learned my husband was, and remains to this day, a king. He had gathered his subjects to meet his smiling bride, only to present them with a confused and frightened soul. He made excuses for me to the people who waited below. They gasped, horrified to learn that on what should have been a night of bliss, my mind had flown from me. And then, when I waved, they cheered. They embraced me, blank and damaged as I was, as their queen.
My next memory was again of waking to the dear and foreign face, this time contorted by concern. I closed my eyes once more, retreating into the comfort of the one piece of my past I seemed to have brought with me to my new, and quite overwhelming life. I patted the hand of my husband and lord, reassuring him that the day had been just too much for someone in my state. He nodded understandingly and gently pushed himself off the bed.
He crossed the room to the corner opposite and sat himself down at what had seemed to be a decorative protrusion when I passed it earlier. As it happened, it was actually a musical instrument, full of spikes and string, which seemed to be grown from the wall. I would have been shocked but for my husband’s playing.
The song seemed to resonate through the frame of the instrument into the wall and to the frame underneath the bed. It was felt more than heard, and that feeling was one of being soothed and resting and being no less than content. Since first waking, I felt right. I closed my eyes and the image was no longer there. My eyes flew open once more and I squeezed them shut desperately.
Behind the vibrations and the calm, there was a shadow of the image. Terrified of losing the one thing I could definitively call mine, I called for a stop to the hypnotic tune. I cited the stress of the day and the shock as the reasons for a much needed nap. Then, without hesitation, I settled myself down to reclaim the image my husband had nearly erased.
Still, somedays, that vibration causes me to forget for a little while: to forget the picture, the pain, the misery, the fantasy that I will one day find the missing pieces to myself. It allows me to find a temporary peace. And yet still, I look for that awkwardly shaped dark, mottled thing against a beautiful blue when the music is over.
That image is mine. It is all I own. And I will not see it float away on eddies and streams until I know what it is.