Who Am I

This short story was written for a Short Story Competition. It's goals were: 1200 words, with the prompt 'new me'.

I wake up, feeling a terrible headache. A blinding brightness enters my eyes as I open them. My eyes seem to have trouble adjusting to their environment. Everything seems vague. Still, it’s clearly not home - wait, where am I? I try to think, but my memory is foggy. All I remember is the word danger, followed by bright yellow light. In an attempt to try to lift the haze, I try to remember, well, anything. My name; Maria. Ok, that’s at least something. Sirname, Williams. Maria Williams. The mist slowly lifts as I remember my parents, my birthday, my dog, my brother.

I hear a scratching noise, which seems to be a very loud door. I see two figures standing next to my bed. One of them is wearing white clothes. The other is wearing more colourful clothes, and feels less distant.

The person in white clothes starts to speak : “You’re awake. How do you feel?”.
After thinking about it for a moment, I answer. “Weak. Where am I?”.
The other person, in a friendly and familiar voice: You’re in the hospital. Don’t you remember what happened?
“Everything is vague, I don’t remember.”. Gradually, my vision returns. I recognise my mother, and a doctor.
The doctor glances at a machine that stands next to me. He then replies: “That’s to be expected. I would like to ask a few questions to test your memory. Do you remember your name?”
I nod, and reply: “Maria Williams, 20 years old.”.
He nods, and says: “Do you remember where you live?”.
I answer: “In Islington, with my parents, and dog.”. Then I remember: “Wait, no, the dog moved out when my sister moved out.”.
The questions continue for a while. Gradually, the haze in my mind lifts. However, I still cannot not remember what happened. I therefore ask “What happened”. Without waiting for an answer, I immediately ask a second question : “Is it bad?”.

I hear the doctor answer, in a kind voice: “You were in a car crash. However, the ambulance was there quickly, and you will make a full recovery. You were lucky. “. I feel a strange sense of him not fully speaking the truth.

I look at my body, as though trying to see what’s wrong with it. I can’t see anything wrong with it, but most of my body is hidden under a blanket. I get the urge to try to wiggle my toes, but they seem reluctant to listen to my request. The doctor seems to notice me trying to move my toes.
“Don’t worry if they aren’t moving much, it’s just the anesthesia. It helps your body recover more quickly.”, he says. “You should rest, you’ll recover sooner that way”.

I fall asleep, and wake up a few hours later. I look down at my body again, and get a strange sensation again. It feels wrong, as though it doesn’t fully belong to me. Before I can worry more, my sister enters the room. She stares at me, as though she had seen a ghost.
I ask her : “What is it?”
She looks at me, seemingly lost for words. Then, slowly, she answers: “It’s just strange, seeing you like this.”. She sighs, “It will just take getting used to, I guess.”
I ask her what she means by that, since it does not really seem to make sense.
She looks as though she was struck by lightning, and then looks at the door, seemingly hoping someone would enter. “They haven’t told you yet?”.
“Told me what?”, I ask.
She looks away again, and stays silent for a while. Then, softly: “I’m .. not supposed to tell you”.

After a silence that could have taken seconds, or hours, my mother came in. I look at her, and ask: “What haven’t you told me yet?”.
My mother and sister look at eachother, and say nothing. My sister then says: “I didn’t know you didn’t tell her yet. Shouldn’t she know?”.
My mother sighs, and answers, “Yes, and she will, at some point. The doctor said it would be best to wait with it.”.
I wait for them to finish talking, and ask: “Well, what haven’t you told me?”

I could see that my mom was unsure what to say. “The accident.. “, she stutters, “Your body.. You would never walk again.”. I can almost hear her think about her next thing to say. “We love you so much”
I answer: “What did you do?”. I tried to scream, but my body didn’t let me.

I heard my mother answer: “Your body wasn’t healing after the crash. You lost your left leg, and your right leg was not doing much better. You were going to live the rest of your life in a wheelchair. We couldn’t let this happen. Your dad and I then heard of a procedure. It fixes everything.”
I look her in the eyes, and say: “What procedure?”.
“Well, basically, your mind is put in a new body”, she says. “Therefore, you are healed. You will need to relearn how to control it, but the Doctor says that that will take just a few weeks. After that, you can do everything again.”.
“Where did you get this body?”; I feel my heartbeat increasing as I say this. “Please tell me nobody got hurt for me. Oh my god, what did you do?”

“According to the doctor, this body was grown without a mind. It was made so someone could at some point live in it. We picked it for you, because it looked a bit like you. According to the doctor, it never happens that someone figures out they are in the wrong body.”, my mother says.
I open my mouth to answer, but can’t find anything to say. I just feel.. wrong. Finally, I am able to decide what to say: “So, you planned to just keep this a secret from me?”
“Of course not. We would have told you, eventually.”, she answered. I don’t feel like answering anymore.
There’s an electric silence in the room, that only gets released as my dad enters the room. He says hi, and apologises for not coming sooner. “As you know, I was in France for work, and this was the earliest I could come. How are you?”.
I smile and say: “I know, its
OK..”. It seems as though my dad now feels the electricity in the room as well, since he starts to look at my mom, seemingly questioning her.

After giving it some more thought, I decide there is no point in discussing it further. Instead, I ask them : “By the way, do you know when my brother will come to visit?”.
My mom looks strangely surprised: “Your brother?”. She stares at me as though what I said makes no sense.
“Yes, Vincent”, I reply. She stays silent.

Then, she answers: “You don’t have a brother.”. I close my eyes, trying to think. I remember his face, his voice, his quirky laugh, and much more about him. Yet, somehow, I know that the memory isn’t my own. I stay silent for a while.

Finally, I whisper: “Whose body is this?”.