“What happened last night? Did I really have that much to drink? Did I say the wrong things? Am I just not that funny?”
Thomas stared into his swollen eye in the hope his reflection would actually have the answers. He remembered arriving at the third bar with his girlfriend and her co-workers, remembered telling some of his classic stories that usually killed and feeling like his jokes weren’t landing as he hoped they would. He remembered a few trays of shots arriving that he thought he might have ordered, and then smash cut to a splitting headache at home alone in bed. Which raised the question, where was his girlfriend? He walked back to his bed glass of water in hand, threw back some painkillers and started searching for his phone. As the painkillers started to kick in a sudden flash of memory seemed to erupt in his mind, bringing with it another wave of pain and nausea. But he could clearly remember storming across a street yelling at a group of people he didn’t recognise. Which at least meant it wasn’t his girlfriend douche co-workers he’d had a fight with. The pain staggered him into sitting down on his bed again and he tried to search his mind for more clue. A second wave of pain and memory come in the form of getting a bag of frozen veg out when he got home and a familiar sense of shame joined the party. Slowly he got back up, went to his freezer and found his phone sitting there waiting for him. As he pulled it out he watched 16 messages suddenly arrive and kill what was left of his battery and the phone shut down. Sighing he stared dumbly at the thing and noticed a small white hospital bracelet on his wrist and his confusion peeked. He desperately wanted to think and remember what had happened but the more he tried the harder being awake became so he staggered himself back to bed, plugged his phone in and fell asleep waiting for it to charge. When he reopened his eyes, it was a few hours later and his mouth felt like a desert. The pain in his head now felt like a bad idea lingering in the back of his mind. Reaching out one shaky hand he finally switched on his phone to check his messages, which had now increased to close to 30. In amongst the usual message from group chats were a lot of missed calls and worried messages from his girlfriend, desperate to know where he was and for him to call her.
After reading the words, ‘where are you?’ ‘How are you?’ And ‘why aren’t you picking up?’, a few times each he decided he needed to talk to her and pressed the little phone icon and lay the device over the side of his face.
“Oh my God Thomas, finally, where the hell are you?”
Her voice was scared and on the verge of tears which added another layer to his confusion. Why didn’t she know he was at home? At what point in the night had they split ways?
“Um? I’m at home? Is everything alright Gracie?”
“HOME! Wh… what?”
Thomas took a deep breath and decided that she was now definitely crying.
“Is it possible I got spiked last night?”
An image came back to him and he looked again at his wrist.
“Oh, and do you know why I have a hospital tag on my arm?”
He swallowed his pride and closed his eyes.
“What happened last night? What… what did I do?”
“Stay there I’m on my way.”
“Can you not just tell me now?”
A cold shiver of anxiety prickled over his body, he wasn’t prone to black outs and the more he realised he’d forgotten, the more freaked out he became.
“Please can you tell me what happened?”
“I will, but please I’ll be there in a couple minutes just stay there.”
Thomas let out a long breath and shook his head.
“Where else would I go?”
He ended the call, put the phone back down and tried not to fall asleep again. Which he managed for about 3 minutes and then darkness crept back over him. In the distance he heard the buzzer on his door, or he thought he did, but couldn’t be sure if it was a dream or not. His dreams lingered on the image of his front door for a few moments then shifted to a dark street swaying from left to right in front of him. Then his ears filled with a scream, and plea and then laughter. He looked up from the street which had stopped moving for a minute to see a group of people laughing and pointing and occasionally kicking at something. He looked harder and realised there was a person on the ground under them and his dream exploded. He saw faces burst, the world spin around, the sound of crashing and breaking and screaming. And suddenly the bottom seemed to drop out of the world and he sat up gasping his heart racing. He looked around and after a few seconds realised he was at home and then his door buzzer went off and stayed screaming until he picked up the phone.
“OH MY GOD THOMAS! Please let me in!”
He opened the door and staggered as he saw his girlfriend still in her clothes from the night before with her eyes puffy as if she’d spent all day crying. She rushed forward and started hitting him on the arm calling him names as her tears rolled down her face and he quickly put his arms around her.
“Shit, what’s wrong? What happened?”
“I’ve been standing out there for 10 minutes!”
He searched his memory and found it full of wholes which sent a cold shiver over his body.
“You, you what? Why?”
She pulled away and looked at him, desperate to see a smile or some indication that he was joking.
“You, you don’t remember calling me and me telling you I was coming over?”
Another cold shiver ran over his body and he flushed.
“I… what? When did I called you?”
Grace’s whole demeanour changed from desperate to in charge and she grabbed his hand.
“You’re coming with me.”
She pulled him to her car and drove him straight to the hospital. As they walked in a few of the doctors quickly came up to them and Thomas was surprised to find they knew his name and that he already had a tag on his wrist. A wheel chair arrived and he was taken off to a room and put into a bed. He turned to his girlfriend.
“What… What’s going on?”
“You drank a lot last night and then suddenly disappeared. Then hours later I got a call from a doctor telling me you’d been picked up by an ambulance at the scene of a fight. Witnesses said you saw some people beating up a homeless man and threw yourself at them, but quickly got over whelmed. Luckily the police showed up and they scattered. By the time I got that call and arrived here you’d gotten yourself out of bed and disappeared again.”
Thomas lay there letting the words wash over him and considered them, trying to find memories to pin them to and after a while he looked at the room then turned back to her and said.
“But … How did I get here?”