Author: David Tam McDonald

“Cara, can you hear me?”

I opened my sticky eyes to see a doctor standing over my bed. A nurse stood next to him looking concerned. “I know you must be confused, and I’m sorry to rush you but we haven’t much time.” he said. “Do you remember before you went to sleep Cara? You were very ill and your parents put you to sleep, until we could cure you. Do you remember that?” I didn’t remember, but somehow I knew it was true. “We can cure you now Cara, but we haven’t much time.” The doctor’s voice was urgent and the nurse was fiddling with something in the background. “We really are very short of time to do it. We didn’t wake you until the last moment, until the theatre was prepped, so you need to be ready now Cara? Are you ready?” I nodded and felt a jag in my hand. The doctor told me I was going to sleep again, but this time only for a few hours.

When I awoke for the second time I was in a nicer room with a window looking out onto some trees and this made me remember trees and the outdoors, which in turn made me remember going inside the capsule, to go for my very long sleep. I remembered saying goodbye to everyone and I remembered being scared. The trees were nice so I tried to shift myself to get a better look at them, but there was a sharp pain in my lower belly and I flopped back onto the pillows, exhausted. Also, there was a very old man sitting in the chair next to my bed. Between the pain in my belly and my fuzzy thinking, I didn’t have a chance to be frightened of him before he smiled at me. His face trembled and his eyes watered but he looked deeply happy.

“Cara, you’re awake, we’ve been waiting so long for you.” He reached out to me, but then stopped and put his shaking hands in his lap. “How do you feel? Can I get you anything? Something to eat or drink?” I gestured to the water jug next to the bed and he stood and fussed with it for some time before passing me a slick glass, half-filled with water. “I’ve had decades, a lifetime really, to think about this moment and how to tell you everything. I’ve imagined this so many times, rehearsed it in my mind, but now that it’s come, now that you’re here, I can’t think what I was going to say.” He smiled, and then laughed. “I’m sorry Cara, you must have so many questions, so please just ask me.”

I did have questions; about my family and friends, about my illness, about how the world was now. Going by his face and the way his hands shook I had been away a long time. As we talked memories flooded back and when we talked through the good ones he would laugh and also cry a little. After a while he leant forward, his elbow on the bed, took my hand and just held it. I was sure then it was really him, and I felt safe, finally, so I fell asleep again. A real sleep this time; from tiredness, not from medicine, or from that awful capsule.

We were both sleeping, still holding hands when the nurse came in to check my stitches. But when she woke me, the old man, my brother, he stayed asleep.