My recollection of the outside world seemed to distort and blend into an unintelligible mess of greys and greens. That being said, the multitude of imaginary escapes I had dreamt up over these 14 long years may resemble familiar places from distant memories but I cannot be sure.
As the nurse wheeled me, painfully slowly, towards the exit into the garden, I began to see glimpses of sunlight blazing in through the canopy of a nearby tree. My heart rose in my chest. How I longed for the pure, non-artificial warmth of sunlight tingling my skin and the impressive sight of nature displaying its grandeur. As the safety door was shunted open ahead of me, a crisp summer breeze bathed my face and exposed skin, causing the hairs on my arms to stand on end. It was fortuitous that it was a mild day; my frail frame required additional warmth in order to maintain any internal body heat.
Passing through the doorway, the green fire escape glinting above my head, my excitement peaked. The untrimmed grass swayed in the wind, the memories suddenly gaining context, the greys and greens taking shape again. I could feel tears gathering at the corners of each eye; not knowing whether to be happy or sad, I allowed all emotion to pour out.
My parents had been around throughout my time in the hospital, visiting every other day when they could manage it, between looking after my other two brothers. The accident had been quite the strain on the family at times, I could tell through the subtle tones in my mother’s voice in particular. I often felt frustrated, quite naturally, at my inability to perform any of the basic functions I had been capable of. Waking up had been quite the surprise, gazing around at my plain, rather morbid surroundings. I was aware that my room had changed over the years as I was shipped about the place. Hearing the voices reverberating off at different angles and distances, I had a basic perception of where others were.
My physical appearance had been the most shocking of all the sights after all this time. The ‘extensive bruising’ I had been told about had long faded but the effects of my paralysis had led to what seemed to be malnourishment. My first glances in a mirror had felt distant, as if still being a dream. For so long I had been frozen as my twelve year old self, this man in front of me I simply could not accept as me.
Fitting into this new world take adjustments. After missing out on 14 years of normal life, I had my catching up to do. So many unfamiliar sights and hazy reminiscences of the outside world had all summated at once, overwhelming my senses. The sensory aspect of the garden had been developed in my eighth year of residence, as they’d told me. The aromas filled my being, creating an unfamiliar feeling of heady ecstasy, infused with images of my previously forgotten past.
I’d had my fill of sleeping; now it was my turn to live.