Okay so, here’s what I have so far for my story. The first half is kinda dark, the second half isn’t nearly as bad so if the beginning is a bit much than I’d just skip down. Other than that, feel free to rip it apart. I don’t do a whole lot of writing outside of occasional RPing, so, I’m not a very good writer. Trying to improve! But I passed english with like, a 62 or something last year, and it’s not like I’ve taken any classes in the last five months. Lots of struggling with what to put in, what not to put in, where to put stuff, where’s too much detail, where’s not enough. So yeah, pointers are appreciated. Also the title is awful, I’m sorry, I can’t think of a good one. I wanted like, Anna’s Life Second Act, but then I feel like everyone would be looking for the first one which does not exist. Anyway, enjoy!
Anna sat there, more terrified than she’d ever been in her whole twenty two years of life this far. She had on her navy blue uniform, broken up by reflective tape and a star of life and the name of her service displayed proudly on one of her shoulders, and the American flag on the other. Not that much of it could be made out in the dark room she was sitting in, she couldn’t remember sitting down. Or maybe falling down would be the better word, although it all happened so fast she was still making sense of it in her head.
On her front was a name tag, although that was obscured by the dark, further down were a front pocket and then some buttons the lined the front. Most notably, though, was the abdomen of her shirt, soaking through with blood that pooled under her and saturated her pants as well thanks to gravity. One wound was pouring it and the other dripped it, with a knife still embedded in it. She knew she had to do something about that fast. She slammed her hand down behind her and began to drag herself over to her bag. Or where she thought it was.
“Robby?” She mumbled weakly, hoping and praying for an answer from the bottom of her heart, but she knew it wasn’t coming. Her partner was currently laying dead, easily seen from the light that managed to come in through the front door. Seemingly the only place light made it into this god awful apartment, covered in newspaper clipping and trash, reeking of some kind of mold.
“Alright Robby, g-get an IV,” she said, as if he was listening, as if he could do anything. She knew he couldn’t, but if he could that’s what she’d say, and since he’d taken her in as her FTO on day one, hardly ever having another partner so far in her year as a medic, she couldn’t even imagine saying anything else as she worked.
She managed to get to her bag, unzipping the florescent orange back and immediately reaching into it, grabbing out gauze to start stuffing into her wound. She started to push the first one in but went to cry out in pain. But all that came was a squeak as some tears started to roll down her cheek. But that wasn’t it, she knew she had to keep going. She put more in, and more in. In a process that felt like hours, but hardly took thirty seconds, she ended up beginning to wrap it down to secure it.
She knew next she had to address the knife, she knew how to and she knew she wanted to. But she felt so cold, colder than she’d ever felt before in her life. She couldn’t do it, she just hoped the second ambulance she’d called for came in time. She grabbed an emergency blanket and cracked it open, wrapping herself in the metal foil as tight as she could but not nearly as tight as she knew she should be able to.
With the pain far from her mind, and a chill that wouldn’t go away despite the blanket, she retreated into her own head. All that was there was anger, she was so mad. So mad at the man or women who had done this, but she couldn’t tell, she hadn’t gotten a good look. At the person who’d shot her partner and stabbed her, and who she could hear drive off in their ambulance. She was so mad she couldn’t hear the dispatcher talk back when she’d called, but she felt hope that somehow the message had gone out. She felt mad at the recovery she’d face when this was all over.
But she knew that a recovery wasn’t coming, a deep nagging dark part of her knew that she was going to die here, stabbed to death by a stranger she’d wanting nothing more than to help.
Laying on a floor that she liked to imagine was carpet but who knew what she was really laying in. She wanted to cry and scream, the tears came but she couldn’t muster up the strength from her lungs to scream. She couldn’t even muster up the strength to keep her eyes open now.
But she wanted to scream. To scream for her brother who was distant except when she needed him, but was always there when those moments came. To scream for her friends to tell her what to do, since she’d never been good at making decisions for herself. For her sister to sing to her, and remind her it wasn’t the end of the world. For her dad to show her how to do what she needed, or at least his way of doing it. And for her mom to hug her and see her as perfect even if she’d screwed up worse than she ever had in her life.
God she wanted her mom, she wanted her so bad, she wasn’t sure if she’d wanted anything this bad in her life before.
She wanted to yell for her and maybe she’d come, in fact she was starting to feel strong enough to yell. Then pain was gone now, but the warmth of the blanket was still there, although it felt heavier. She felt the strength she’d just ten minutes before when she’d knocked on the door of the apartment.
With all the strength she now felt, the pre-schooler opened up eyes, but quickly closing them at the pain of the morning light. Tears started coming from her shut eyes as she went about flinging the covers off. Her messy blonde hair went everywhere as she shot up in the bed, screaming at the top of her lungs.
But the voice she heard wasn’t her own, it was higher, different, odd. She brought her hands up to start wiping the tears from her face, and the crust that had built up over night. She flung her legs off over the edge of a bed she was almost certain she hadn’t been lying on, and opened up her eyes again.
As she looked down at herself a feeling of fear returned. She looked down at the body of a four year old, dressed in a pink sweater for a cold winter night, and a pair of gray jamie pants with a bulge in them. A pair of fuzzy green socks wrapped around her feet were certainly something she didn’t own! Frantically she grabbed at them tugging on the sweater, that was real, so were the socks as she bent down to tug them off. Pants were real, the bulge best she could tell was in fact from a diaper.
In her confusion she heard a voice, looking to side to side and seeing nothing she got up to her feet, realizing it must be beyond the door. She knew the voice but couldn’t quite place it for a moment.
The room felt bigger as she made her way across it, a tan carpet bordering on yellow, pink walls, shelves of plastic containers filled with toys. A lamp and a ceiling fan seemed to be the only things in it that were electric, in contrast to her own room with as many high tech useless things as her paramedic salary could pay for. As she reached for the knob on the white door she knew the voice, it was fisher.
“Fish…er?” She mumbled, opening eyes she she didn’t know were closed, feeling a tingling feeling all over her body that once again felt normal. She could see a strong tanned hand wrapped around her own arm that was reaching out, but it wasn’t the arm she’d watched herself use to reach for the door with.
Her head turned, she could feel hands all over her and hear the wailing siren of a fire truck outside. It’s red lights flashing and filling the room. As she turned her head she saw on her mouth an oxygen mask, but more importantly she saw the face of a firefighter she knew well. His blonde hair and tanned perfect body, a man that would be right at place on any sunny beach in the world if he’d just take off the bunker gear for once.
“Fisher?” She repeated meekly, her voice muffled by the mask on her mouth. For the first time in what felt forever she received a reply.
“Anna, anna honey it’s okay.” He told her, gently shaking her by one of the shoulders and then shining a light in her eyes. There was no romance between her, Fisher just had an awful habit of calling his patients ‘honey’ ‘sweetie’ ‘buddy’ or whatever else it was today. She now knew she was a patient, the feeling brought her both a feeling of safety and embarrassment.
She could hear the voices of people she’d worked with over the last few months echoing around her. In the calm collected manner that always brought the same out of herself no matter how bad things were. But in it there was something she’d only heard once before, a feeling that one of their own was on the floor and it wasn’t good.
“Robby, where’s Robby?” She asked in a panic, trying to push herself up but she was kept down. To be fair a toothpick could keep her down at this point. She watched fisher’s face as he frowned and ignored the question. Her attention quickly shifted to the feeling she hadn’t felt since school, of fluid entering her veins. She couldn’t bear to turn her head to see who was doing it, but she knew damn well they were pushing it too fast! And it was uncomfortable, and she didn’t like it!
“STOP IT! STOP IT!” She tried to yell, but to deaf ears. Although it was more a whisper, it felt like a yell to her. She couldn’t even gag, when she noticed that she knew there was a tube going in. Taking over her breathing for her as apparently she wasn’t able to now, a lifeline that was often missed. She felt like she could talk just a little more as she felt her eyes close again, mumbling what she knew might be her last words.
“Don’t miss…” She mumbled, her eyes closing to Fisher with a laryngoscope in one hand, and a thumbs up in the other.
“Don’t miss what honey?” Asked the blonde haired woman standing in front of her, with eyes like a clear ocean. Her hair was a mess suggesting she just woke up herself, and the white two piece pajama set she wore just confirmed it. She a groggy but loving touch she wrapped a hand around Anna’s wrist and one around her back, pulling her into her lap as she sat down at the girls level.
“Mommy?” Anna felt her mouth say, although she didn’t know why, this wasn’t her mother! But for some reason she knew it was the woman’s name. At Least to her. Anna could feel the squish of her wet diaper as she was sat in the woman’s lap, well that solved that mystery. She looked up at the women with a million questions. Where was she, what happened to her body? Why was she a preschooler? Why’s your preschooler in diapers you awful mother!? But none of those came out, she was too scared and confused for questions that made sense.
“I’m scared.” She said quietly, but unlike the emergency scene her whisper was heard. She women pulled her in even closer, Anna could smell her. It smelled more like her mother than her actual mother did, something she couldn’t even describe.
“I know you are babe, it’s just a few more minutes.” The women whispered back, in a voice that would fill Anna with calm if she was terrified and confused beyond anything she’d ever felt before in her life. She could feel the warm breath on her neck and the body heat of the women cradling her. A few minutes more of what? The question crossed her mind, and as it did she blinked.
And when she opened her eyes up again she was in a surgical room, someplace she’d been a few times but never as a patient. She started to look around, wanting questions wanting answers and this time knowing to say them! But for better or for worse, the anesthesiologist was on point, and her eyes were closed again shortly.
With a renewed sense of panic she opened her eyes in her other body.
“Mommy! Mommy!” She said as she began to panic, although she didn’t need to reach or run around, the arms that were already around her just held her a little closer to announce their presence. And she just sat there in that woman’s loving arms and rested her head against her chest, hearing the air go around and her heart beat. She attempted to sort out the last ten or so minutes in her head. Her mother let her, rubbing her back as she watched the gears turn in her new daughter’s head
“I’m so confused.” Anna said after they had sat in silence for a few seconds. The giggle she heard in reply was the first happy thing she’d heard all day. She looked up at the women smiling down at her, pulling an arm back to take her daughter’s hand
“I know, listen to me honey. Everything is going to be okay. Just be brave for me and close your eyes one last time and it will all be over, okay?” She said, trying to sound calming despite the implications of her words. In her right now Anna was just a small child that would listen to her mother. While she knew that wasn’t exactly right, she had no idea who her daughter was. What life she lived, how old she was, if she was an old billionaire or an small infant. Well she guessed she could rule out the latter, she was managing to talk.
She could also make some guesses, the fact Anna was so young suggested she would die early. Although her current age had no direct correlation with the age she’d die at, small children just didn’t tend to make it far in their first life. Mostly due to making stupid decisions from the time they were able to go down a whole pack of mints at once, to the time they knocked on the door of a patient with a lengthy mental health and police record without any back up, and it ended it all for them.
She imagined Anna was much the same, she hoped it wasn’t too rough for her but given how many cycles she was going through she wasn’t sure that hope would be met. Anna. Not the name she would have picked, maybe she’d change it later on, but Katlin had decided as soon as she knew she’d have a daughter coming that she’d let her keep her name for at least a year. She’d read more than enough new parent articles that said so!
Katlin looked down as she felt warmth on her chest, frowning and returning to rubbing her new daughter’s back. Having been lost in thought for a second her new daughter had started to cry, that was no good!
“Anna, anna baby, it’s okay.” She said, beginning to rock her back and forth. “It’ll all be okay!” She attempted to explain to the girl who she’d just told would be dead next time she blinked. But the tears kept coming from the girl as she struggled to keep her eyes open, shaking her head vigorously and trying to form sentences she was too upset to say.
Anna struggled, her head was a muddled mess of incomplete thoughts and raging emotions. All she knew to do at this point was cry, and cry, and try to keep her eyes open because she didn’t want to die! She wasn’t ready to die! She had a life to live, she wanted to join the guard, she wanted to be a flight medic, she wanted to hop over to PA school when she was all done with that! She had such a life she wanted to live, and here she was, about to lose it all next time she blinked. But she couldn’t stop it, the tears were coming and she was shaking and there was nothing she could do now, every muscle in her body wanted her to close her eyes. She didn’t have the willpower to stop it.
And when she opened her eyes she was laying in an ICU bed. She knew it was an ICU bed from all the rounds she’d done in this very hospital during Medical school. She scanned the room, at the foot of her bed was a nurse, slaving away checking the IV pumps, the ventilator, the medications, and seeming to be preparing to administer something.
Over by her other side was a police officer, one she recognized well from her city’s department. Sitting there with a navy blue hoodie on, some jeans, two empty cups of coffee by his feet as he sipped on a full one, and his badge displayed around his neck. She guessed she was here for some mix of ‘Damn I need to investigate this’ and ‘No one has to be in the hospital alone’, although for the latter she was kind of expecting another Medic. Not that it mattered to her. She tried to talk but the tube in her throat and the paralytics were having none of that, to be fair she wasn’t sure how she was awake right now.
Her eyes caught a glimpse of the heart monitor, watching the lines go by, zigging and zagging their way along. It didn’t look normal to her, in fact it looked like it was about to deteriorate. She wanted to scream, to yell, to get someone’s attention! Her eyes darted over to the Officer’s, when they met he saw the fear in her eyes and nodded.
“Hey, something’s wrong,” he said, the smell of coffee filling the room even stronger as he spoke in a voice that was utterly helpless in this medical environment. “Something’s wrong with our Medic, please, do something!” The nurse looked at him bewildered for a moment. She began to look over Anna and the monitors. She quickly found the problem and ran out of the room.
Just seconds later she returned with a team, the blankets were ripped off, pads were applied, people of all roles crowded the room as the cop slipped off to a corner. Anna looked around wild eyed, she would have screamed if she could at the first shock, and again at the second. Everything was spinning now, she wasn’t sure if it was because of her heart or some medicine she was administered, but she knew she wouldn’t be awake long now. It was all about to be over and she wasn’t ready, but she couldn’t move, she was helpless to fight it.
She looked over towards the door for something, some hope. For some celebrity to come in and tell her it was a prank. For some saint to come in and lay hands on her. For someone or something, anything! But what came through the door filled her with more joy than anything she could have hoped.
“Hey, out of my fucking way!” she heard, accompanied by the sound of a surprised orderlie being chucked out of the way. Robby came rushing into the room, his head all bandaged up, as well as one on his shoulder. He was wearing some sweats but had a hospital wristband on. And an eye patch! She’d laugh and tease him all about that as soon as she could.
“I’m a medic, I’m a medic! She’s my partner! What’s happening?” he asked, attempting to wade his way into the team. He knew full well this wasn’t his place, that he shouldn’t be here, that he was walking in on a well rehearsed team as experts as probably nothing more than a wrench in their gears. But it was his partner and damned if he wasn’t about to do something for her!
He made his way in, staring at Anna’s wide eyes filled with fear and running around to the other side of the bed where there was room. He gripped her hand smiled at her. “We got you, we got you,” he said, although his pale face and frown when he looked at the monitor said otherwise.
Her consciousness faded in and out, but she knew she had to keep her eyes open, and somehow she managed. At least for a few moments. She wanted to say her last words but she knew she couldn’t speak, maybe for the best, ‘Don’t miss’ seemed kind of badass to her. She’d need a last novel to really get everything off her chest. She stared at Robby, and she knew it was about to be over. It wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t anything she’d want it to be. She looked up at her old man partner arguing with a code team, but no one dared argue back after a man waded out of his ICU bed and smacked down a security guard. Anna reached out and grabbed his hand, and did her best to smile. She wanted to tell him he did great, she wanted to tell him it wasn’t his fault and he was a great medic stuck with an idiot girl who was bound to get herself into too much trouble eventually. She wanted to tell him to go on with the job he loved and just forget about her. But deep deep down, she really really wanted him to save her like she’d seem him do for some of their patients.
But all she could do was squeeze his hand, squeeze it tight and hope her feelings got through. She heard the monitor go before she did, and she blinked.
Anna opened her eyes back up, in the midst of the crying fit she started before she’d died and resumed it after she died, bawling her eyes out for all she was worth. Katlin rocked her back and forth and let her. It was almost five minutes before Anna managed to talk again.
“Am I really dead?” She asked, gripping her hands tightly around handfuls of clothes as she heard the swift answer.
“Your first one is, but that’s okay. You’re here now.” Katlin told her, rocking her back and forth and trying to explain to her, through her own flurry of emotions. “But now is forever, and it’s going to be okay.” It was hard for Katlin now, she couldn’t relate to Anna. She had a daughter, she’d known for one year that she was going to get one, but she didn’t know who, a few days ago she’d learned her name was Anna through a dream she had. She had a little girl of her own now, and all she wanted for her to be happy and healthy. The problem was she didn’t know how to make that happen right now.
“I don’t understand! I don’t understand!” Anna countered, as she devolved back into tears for a minute before needing to stop and catch her breath for several. She squirmed to get away, but was held tight to Katlin. Probably for the best, but Anna wasn’t happy about it.
“I’ll explain what I can later, they’ll teach you some more at school.” Katlin said, as she felt Anna’s body start to grow weak, knowing the girl was just going to tire herself out soon. While continuing to try and calm her daughter she went over what she’d read and heard in the new parent classes. Some people preferred to take their new children, especially older ones, to clinics for when they came around to quickly deal with the psychological blow of “Oh hey you’re dead.” Most adults also woke up in clinics. But there was a school of thought that suggested what was best for young children was to be with their parents when they came around. Although Katlin was yet to get a husband, she thought she could handle her brand new daughter with a home wake up. She’d taken weeks of classes to prepare. She couldn’t remember a single thing from those classes right now.
“School? Later?” Anna repeated confused, a windmill of confusion and emotions. Apparently she was dead, apparently she was now a toddler, this lady she just met was her mother and she could only assume she was in her new home. “Am I dreaming?” Anna asked with a ray of hope, looking up at her mother.
“No Anna, this is all real.” Katlin explained, recalling she shouldn’t mislead her daughter at all. Unfortunately she really couldn’t recall what she should say instead, so she smiled and kissed her on the forehead!
Anna just tried to comprehend that her life was gone now, snatched away in the blink of an eye. Well, several. It wasn’t something that was easy to swallow, it certainly didn’t help that her body with different now. She pressed her head against her new mother’s chest and stayed quiet. She didn’t know what she wanted, but eventually one want did come to the surface, and she asked before she even knew she wanted to talk.
“Can I go to a mirror?” She asked, in a voice that sounded like it cried all she could cry today. She heard a reply whispered back to her but she couldn’t make out what it was, she wasn’t really listening. But she did feel herself rise up in the air as her mother stood up and started to carry her, lifting her up higher and letting Anna rest her chin on her shoulder.
From the new spot for her head she could see her door fade away, it was a pretty normal and plain one except for the sparkly pink butterfly that was on it, she guessed to mark her room to anyone wandering the hallway. The hallway itself was pretty boring, grey carpet and pictures. All the pictures were just landscapes or buildings, one was mommy with what she assumed were her friends but she had no way of knowing.
Mommy? Why was that stuck in her head! This wasn’t her mother! She felt some love for this lady for some unexplainable reason, but it wasn’t her mother. Right? As she felt them turn into the bathroom she couldn’t help but ask, there wasn’t any harm in it she guessed.
“Are you my mommy?” Anna asked, as her mom took her and went to stand her up on the bathroom counter, keeping a hand on either hip to keep her steady. She stared into Anna’s eyes and smiled even though she looked like she was about to cry, giving a few quick nods.
“Yes, and you’re my baby.” She said with a smile, giving Anna a kiss and adding on. “But you already knew that.” It was true, Anna did, she wasn’t sure what else she knew for no reason! But before she could consider it more she felt mommy trying to turn her around and remind her “You wanted to see a mirror didn’t you?”
With that Anna was turned around, standing on a dull green bathroom counter, despite standing on it she could see her full self in the mirror, even if just barely. She looked herself up and down. The pink sweater and sweatpants were still there, she could see the top of a diaper poking out over the top. Her hair was blonde, she was on the thin side but certainly not unhealthy. White without a lot of freckles, in contrast to her irish freckle filled frame from life. If she had to guess she’d say she was four, but she wasn’t very good at guessing ages despite her profession. Most startling to her though, was there her eyes were purple.
As soon as she noticed that she squeaked in surprise, pulling her hands up to rub her eyes and check. Then rub them and check again, nope still purple! She looked over her shoulder at her mother for answers and just saw a women smiling at her, taking a step closer to wrap an arm around her midsection so her free hand could point to pieces of her daughter and give her an explanation.
“Are you ready for a lesson?” Her mother asked her, Anna replied with a quick series of nodding. She loved learning, she loved nothing more than learning! She hadn’t gone to college due to personal reasons, but she always wished she could have. Realizing her burst of enthusiasm she quickly tried to suppress it, but still showed plenty of interest as mommy started pointing to pieces.
Katlin started with a brief explanation. “Your new body is made from your soul, some things are random, like your skin color. But things like your hair.”
Katlin then went to grabbing a lock of her daughter’s hair and straightening it out. “Your hair’s blonde because mine is, and your my daughter.” She explained. In reality it actually was usually because someone was gullible, but that wasn’t something that she wanted to tell her! She would make sure to warn her to be cautious at school, to avoid bullies who knew that.
“Your skin’s clear because you don’t have many secrets.” Katlin said as she ran the back of her hand across her daughter’s face, watching as Anna stared into the mirror and tried to think. Katlin wondered what was going through her head, the shift from an adult brain to a child one was always strange from what she had read. She’d never personally experienced it.
“Your eyes are purple because it shows what job you’ll like! Purple tends to be really adventurous honey, what’d you do for a living?” Katlin asked, feeling Anna being to get a bit squirmy, seeing her eyes drift around the bathroom and shift between her feet she guessed she was done looking at her new body. So she lifted her back up and started to carry her down to the living room, taking her time deciding the wooden steps.
“I’m a paramedic!” Anna said with pride, sitting up a little straighter in her arms and beaming up at her. She didn’t have a lot to be proud of in her life but that was it, that was what she had and she clung to it as tight as she could. So whenever someone asked, she was bound to babble on about it.
“Oh? That’s a big job for a little girl like you! How long did you do it for?” Anna heard her mother reply, with some feigned interested. But for some reason Anna picked up a little bit of pity in her voice, she couldn’t imagine why. But she couldn’t really imagine anything right now, her mind was stuck in the moment.
“Almost a year…” She mumbled in reply, as they made their way down into the living room. The stairs went straight to the living room, a hard wood room with a big blue rug on it, containing a couch on one end opposite a TV that was mounted on the wall, with some windows facing the driveway off to the side.
Anna adjusted herself to get comfortable as she felt her mother sit down, going to climb off the lap and take a seat on the couch. But she felt arms keeping her firmly where she was for the moment. So instead she put her hands in her lap and looked straight forward, feeling her face grow a bit warm with embarrassment. She wasn’t sure if she could have a serious conversation while sitting in someone’s lap.
“Well, this is your life now, I know it’s kind of sudden.” Anna heard her mother start to explain, as she stroked her hair gently and kept an arm wrapped around her midsection. “There’s a lot to learn, you’ll get it all over time, you’re free to ask me or your teachers. Oh I guess that’s a thing, you will be going to a transitional preschool.”
“Transitional?” Anna asked, she assumed a preschool was the same thing. As she got comfortable and felt some adrenaline start to fade she felt a headache grow, and started to notice how tired felt all over her body. Deciding the best way to deal with both those things would be to block out some stimulus, she closed her eyes and leaned back into her mother’s warm body.
“Mhmm, transitional.” She heard the soothing voice say, quieter than it had been talking before. “School levels are the same, transitional means you haven’t been in your second life for more than three years yet. Well it varies by grade and school. The one you’re going to, is called Blue Vines. They partner with a few great regular preschools in the area, the teachers go back and forth, the staff was nice. Oh you should see it, well you will soon, they have a lot of…”
Anna could hear her mother keep talking, droning on about the preschool. Sounding like she’d just taken a tour of it, it was awful, it was the most boring thing Anna had listened to in weeks. Despite the enthusiasm the list would suggest, her mother’s voice stayed quiet and calm, almost like she was trying to get Anna to sleep. Well, it worked. After what she just went through, she needed a good long rest for her brain to sort it all out.
“Your brother’s going to lose his new job.” Anna heard a voice say in her head, piercing into the dream she had been having. A dream she couldn’t even remember now. “He’s going to lose it, he won’t deal with this well and he JUST started.” Anna could feel her heart pick up it’s pace. No no, that couldn’t happen, she had to do something to help him.
“Your parents have to bury you now.” She heard a second voice say, she couldn’t make out who it was, but just the thought of her own funeral made her start to choke up. “Everyone’ll be there, they’ll have to skip work, they’re going to be overcome with grief. It’ll be expensive.” Anna shook her head, no that wasn’t true, insurance would pay at least. Right?
“Because you were stupid, because you couldn’t keep safe. What was the first they taught you in class, idiot? Stay safe. You failed, you failed everyone.” Anna heard a third voice say, she could kind of recognize that one, it was certainly from her service. No it was Robby, why was robby yelling at her. “Stupid stupid! Anna I almost died because you were so stupid, you think I’ll still have a job with a chunk of brain gone?” No no, Robby would never yell at her like this. This was a dream, she knew it was a dream, she just needed to wake up! Just wake up!
Soon enough the sound of her own yelling woke her up, her eyes darting open and staring at the wall. She could feel her heart nearly beating out of her chest, pushing herself up into sitting out from under her blankets. Well only for a few seconds, as soon as she realized her diaper was the only clothing she had on she wrapped a blanket back around herself.
Breathe in breathe out, in and out, use your tummy, do it slowly. She held her blanket tight around herself to try and alleviate the shaking she felt. It would be okay, they’d all be okay, they were strong, they could do it. Right? Right! And there was no voice to tell her otherwise.
She opened her eyes back up and scanned the room, half expecting the see her new mother run in but she didn’t. This process must be exhausting for her too, Anna speculated there was probably a lot of paperwork and phone calls to be done. But she could only guess. She scanned around the room same as it was before, but now only lit up by some moonlight making it through her curtains.
Once Anna felt her heart get under control she went to pull herself out of her bed, keeping the blanket wrapped tightly around herself she ventured to the door. Reaching over to open it up and step outside. She didn’t know what to do, she just knew that sitting around solved nothing! She looked up and down the hall and noticed one door cracked open, feeling the bulk between her legs making her walk a little different while she made her way towards the door.
Anna pushed it open and looked over the room, a big bed on and dark wooden stand. A TV on the wall, a nightstand on both sides. Was there someone else who lived there? The thought entered Anna’s head but was pushed away as she noticed the figure in the bed closer to her. Mommy! Should could fix this! Wait why would she be able to fix this?
“Mommy!” Anna shouted, her mouth moving before her brain could her off, cursing herself in her head. Both because she shouldn’t just go waking the women as far as she knew, and shouting in the middle of th night was generally frowned upon! However there was no reprimanding, instead just a groggy women opening one of her eyes, and becoming the girl over with the arm that was already hanging off her bed.
“Baby? Shouldn’t you be asleep?” Anna managed to make out. “Well I guess it’s been what, ten hours? Think you can do another two, it’s almost morning.” Anna heard her mother explain, while she walked over to her. She felt herself lifted up, letting go of her blanket in surprise! She was quickly brought into her mother’s blanket though, already warmed up by her and her body heat.
“I had a bad dream.” Anna told her, resting her head against her new mother, as she curled up next to her where she was placed. That was the right term for it, but Anna felt weird saying it. She felt weird saying anything with this new voice.
“Well stay right here and I’ll make sure you don’t have another one.” Her mother told her, keeping her close with one arm around her. A flash of a grin and a giggle as she suggested. “Wanna hear more about the preschool?” Then Anna felt a kiss on the top of her head, and couldn’t help but smile a little bit too.
She laid there and tried not to think, not about what she guessed was now her past life. Not about what was the terrifying future in a new world. She just thought about now, laying in bed next to someone she hardly knew but felt the same love for as she felt for her real mother. Other mother? First mother? Anna didn’t know what term to use, but that didn’t matter, because that wasn’t right now. She could hear the breathing pattern of the women change as she went to sleep, the hold she had on Anna loosening. Anna tried to do the same, copying her breathing.
For the the third time in twenty four hours, Anna woke up. But this time it wasn’t fierce and terrified, just a groggy release from the dreams she’d been in. She noticed her mother was gone but before any confusion could set in she heard the rattling of pots and pans down in the kitchen. Anna pushed herself to sitting up, knocking loose the pile of blanket she’d been under as she let out a loud and long yawn. Her thumb sliding into her mouth without her noticing while she climbed off the bed and went to waddle her way to the door. As she walked she felt the weight of her wet diaper hanging from her hips. As she noticed it, she noticed she was wetting herself. Huh! She looked down in a panic and grabbed at the front, she wasn’t sure when it started, but felt it come to an end a few seconds after she noticed it. A deep red blush now stuck on her face.
Anna got to the door a few moments later and reached her hand up, grabbing the handle and pulling it down and out to open the door. Just outside the door there was a stair case however, and on that staircase was a child gate that she had no idea how to open. As she went to call down, since she had no other choice with the gate in her way, she noticed the thumb and quickly yanked it out. Well this was embarrassing, but not as much as she thought it should be. Some strange feeling of this all being natural was stuck.
“I’M AWAKE!” She shouted after a deep breath, taking a second to frantically try to fix up her hair as she heard the noises of someone starting to get ready to cook fade, and the steady foot steps make there way to the bottom of the stairs. Her mother coming into sight a few moments later, and starting to make her way up after stepping over the gate at the bottom of the stairs.
“Well good morning, did you sleep well?” She heard her mother ask, replying with a few nods as she stepped back to make space for the women as she made her way over the second baby gate, and then started to lean down to pick her up. Anna let her do so, but didn’t know why she was so into carrying. Anna’s first pair of parents didn’t carry her this much at all!
“I had a accident.” Anna squeaked, burying her face into her mother’s shoulder so she wouldn’t have to look at her and see her face. Truth was, Anna didn’t expect any sort of retaliation or scolding, she had a diaper on so she figured it was expected. But her logical brain felt some sense of shame, and she forced herself to behave as she thought she should, not as she felt she should. The reply that came was a light hearted chuckle.
“A? Just one?” Her mother asked, gently patting the rear soaked padding. The gently bouncing and rocking of being carried along made the rest of her embarrassment fade away as well, especially as her mother launched into a brief explanation.
“A Lot of your physical skills don’t carry over, like potty training, riding a bike, writing.” Her mother explained, as she took Anna into her room and set her down on the changing table that was in there. Anna hadn’t noticed it before, but she guessed she shouldn’t really be surprised by it.
“Just… You have enough stress in your life right now, try to not worry about diapers okay? Just keep it on and I’ll handle the rest. We can cross the potty training bridge when we get to it. Do you have any toys you like?” Anna felt relieved by the explanation, somewhat, she wasn’t sure how she felt about accepting diapers. She guessed that wasn’t really a choice though. She rolled her eyes at the question. What toys as a twenty three year old professional could she possible be into? Although as she almost scoffed at that she remembered one, although she hadn’t done it in awhile.
“Twisty puzzles.” She said, looking up at her mother. “I like twisty puzzles, like um… Rubik’s cubes?” She finished, her eyes lighting up as she was handed one! She felt the rest of her attention fade away, if she could remember how to solve this she could really impress her new mother if she could solve this! First was the white cross on top, she got that no problem, then was onto the corners. Once again she remembered that in a flash. But the middle layer gave her some difficulty, she couldn’t quite remember the algorithm for it. She was sure she’d get it eventually, but instead she felt the cube taken out of her hands.
“Needa get your shirt on, Anna, can you sit up? Arms up?” The offender requested, making Anna look over at her. Shirt? She was getting her diaper changed! But as she thought about that she noticed it was, she was clean and dry. And some pink overalls had been slid up to just past her knees! With a blush she sat up and held her hands up, she can’t believe she got so engrossed in something, how could she end up so focused on one thing that a diaper change just flew by her attention?
“You really like those huh? One side done! That’s better than I’ve ever done.” Anna heard, giggling at the complaint but she wasn’t about to share her secrets! She felt a purple shirt pulled onto her body, and then cooperated as the overalls her snapped onto her as well. Soon she was once again in her mother’s arms and being taken to breakfast.
“I can walk you know.” Anna felt the need to explain, but was quickly shot down by some comment about having to redo and undo child gates. “I don’t need those either!” She huffed but was just met with giggling and disarming hair petting. She looked around when they got into the kitchen, noting the ingredients for pancakes and some bacon. Along with a booster seat she was soon put into, but she didn’t seem to mind.
The face of joy Anna gave her mother made it easily clear she was a fan of pancakes. She was also given the Rubik’s cube back while being told. “Play with this while I cook, okay honey? After that I wanna take you to the park.”
The park, already? Going out and socializing? Was she really ready for that, after barely an hour of time spent awake in her new body? The idea started to fill her with stress, thankfully she had a puzzle placed into her hands to deal with instead of worrisome thoughts. She started working on the middle layer again, some spark of memory helping her solve that and help her with the top layer. It took her trial error, a restart, and a lot of digging through her memory, but she finished and looked up.
“I got it! I got it!” She chimed in a sing song voice, proud of herself and holding it above her head for her mother to see. She finished just in time as a plate was put in front of her, a pre-portioned amount of syrup already drizzled on. Along with it came a sippy cup of milk, and much to her chagrin, a bib.
“Like I said, physical skills, didn’t come with your soul.” Her mother explained ahead of any complaining as she tied it on, then took the cube. Placing one finger on it to drag around and test the integrity of the stickers! Then again on a second stick. Her face quickly turned as she felt impressed, then proud of the skill her daughter had. “Wow you really did huh? Good job honey.” She told her, reaching over to ruffle her hair, then go about the cleanup process.
Anna felt proud, unable to help herself from squirming and giggling some. Yeah she did it, she couldn’t believe the look on her mom’s face either, she hadn’t felt this proud since finishing her paramedic program. And over something so silly and trivial as well! Now her attention turned to her new challenge as she grabbed a fork. But she couldn’t remember how to grab a fork! A few attempts later she just wrapped her full hand around it and went to start eating before her pancakes soaked in all the syrup. She could feel not all the food made it into her mouth, she could see some ended up back on the tray and knew some ended up around her mouth and on the bib. She encountered a similar problem to the fork as she went to reach over and drink from the cup. Needing to wrap her hands around the two sturdy handles and even then the first attempt missed. Despite the difficulty, Anna soon finished her meal, and looked up at her mother who was holding a hand over her mouth as she tried not to laugh.
“You’ll get better at it!” She insisted,to Anna as she ran a wash cloth under some warm water, and went to use it to clean the face. Despite the face she knew it was what needed to happen Anna still squirmed it resistance lightly. It was natural! She couldn’t help it! After that she smiled at her mother as the bib was removed, and went to get out of her chair on her own before her mother had any say in it!
“So are you ready to go to the park?” She heard her mother say, making Anna gulp. No, no she was not! But she also didn’t want to have a fight. “Yeah…” she mumbled unconvingly, as she felt herself be taken by the hand and led to the door where she was assisted in getting on a pair of green slip on shoes.
“It’ll be fun.” Her mother insisted. “I promise, okay?” She explained, as she gently rubbed Anna on the shoulder and got up to her feet. Then she opened up the door and led Anna out.