I woke hearing a thin and close metallic screech, coming out of that strange dreamless and timeless numbness I felt stuck in.
The mind was still completely numb, like all my two hundred and six bones that seemed to have mummified in that fetal position for who knows how many hours... or days.
I tried to open my eyes but as soon as a crack of sunlight was able to seep through my eyelashes, it felt like I was hit by a laser piercing my eyeball all the way to my brain, which began to throb painfully.
I barely managed to grunt in pain, my mouth feeling like sandpaper.
I tried to make a deep breath, but m nostrils felt clogged with sawdust, itching me with each breath I took.
I coughed with little success. My ribs had no intention of expanding to allow oxygen to fill my lungs more than the bare minimum.
Meanwhile that metallic noise, similar to a chain grinding against smooth metal, kept tormenting me, making its way into my brain, reaching the rational part of my mind.
Where did that noise come from? It wasn’t familiar, yet it comforted me, as if I wasn’t alone.
Intimidated by that foreign sound, yet reassuring by it, I slowly started moving my fingers, recovering their circulation.
My legs also started moving and I immediately realised I was lying down.
I felt a silky smooth fabric under my still numb hands.
Bed sheets, I thought.
I was in bed.
I couldn’t say. I couldn’t even remember how my bed was, in that moment.
Everything was unknown.
Even the woman’s scent I was able to breathe into the pillow was unfamiliar to me.
With great struggle, I managed to move my head and finally breathe better.
The air was fragranced but stale, as if the room I was in had its windows closed for a long time. It smelled of roses, new carpet and fine wine left to decanter for several hours. But also something else… Something unidentifiable, something I wasn’t used to.
Suddenly my mind started listing all stimuli: the metallic noise, the wine, the carpet, the bed sheets, the woman’s perfume…
I thought about my bedroom.
I thought about it so much I almost dosed off.
I couldn’t remember it.
I couldn’t even remember how it was made: the colour on the walls, where the bed was, the smell of the room…
It was a moment before anxiety started taking over every cell of my body.
At lightning speed my mind started looking for answers, expanding the research form my bedroom to the entire house.
How could I not remember my home, my kitchen, my living room…
I mean, I must have eaten and cooked once in my life, right?
I must have watched TV sitting on a couch or a chair, right?
Vague, cloudy memories started to come up: the wonderful sizzle of bacon and eggs, a dark red chair, a finger cut I got with a Japanese Santoku knife, the movie ʻBlade Runnerʼ, a card singed by Phil Rizzuto of the Yankees, Derek Stevens’ ʻQuiet Huntʼ…
Memories, but useless and too foggy to time-locate them.
ʻThe address! Yes, I need that… Where do I live?ʼ I tried thinking about it, as my eyes tried to open again and adjust to the sunlight filling the room I was in.
I slowly but surely my eyesight returned, I couldn’t say the same for my memories.
Roads, neighbourhoods and even cities... Nothing! A deep black hole had sucked in every image. Even the writing on the correspondence was so confusing to be unreadable through memories.
As if seeing better I could also focus on those few memories of a past that never seemed to happen, I opened my eyes.
Dozens of layers of fabric seemed to have wrapped me like a sea of white foam, soft and light.
ʻWhat is this?ʼ I asked myself panicking, trying to make my way through with my arms, still stiffened by the uncomfortable position. The fabric got mixed with the white sheets and the shirt I was wearing. That one was white too, with just a golden stain on the chest.
I didn’t know why, but I knew I wasn’t a guy to go bet still dressed.
I barely managed to pull myself up a little and smelled the stain.
A Bollinger, I doubtless deduced smelling the fruity but also exotic and spicy scent, with a note of honey perceptible to the palate, which made it unique in its kind among the most renowned champagne in the world.
I also had a loose bow tie hanging over my shoulder. It was as black as the elegant trousers and shiny shoes I was wearing.
Everything seemed out of place, but I couldn't say exactly what. Or what wasn't.
I was no longer able to recognise anything.
ʻNot even myself!ʼ my mind screamed in shock and finally free of the fog caused by that odd exhaustion.
The question I could already hear in my mind made its way to my chapped and dehydrated lips:
“Who am I?”
Those two simple words hit me with the power of a punch violently hitting my guts.
I felt like throwing up but knew I was empty stomached.
I had nausea and an overall feeling of discomfort that soon led me to thing I had been drugged a taken into that strange room that, as my body started to be able to move again, I started to examine.
I tried to get up and suddenly I heard that metallic noise that had woken me up in the beginning again. It was coming from behind me.
I turned around and only saw the wrought-iron headboard against the spatulated caramel wall.
I sat down trying to take a breath, thoroughly oxygenating my neurones, because in that moment I needed every fibre and nerve ending of my body to start working again to their maximum performance to answer the thousand questions I had and that were swallowing my mind back towards the abyss from which I felt I was just coming out of.
I closed my eyes and tried to do some deep breathing exercises... perhaps learned in some yoga class or who knows where and how.
However, when I opened them back I saw something that threw me back into a fit of fear, paralysing me and freezing my lungs and the air inside them.
In front of me, immersed in white tulle, came a light brown head full of curls that adorned and softened the slightly squared face of a woman.
ʻA woman!?ʼ my mind screamed shocked.
The was lying next to me and by the movements of the massive white dress she was wearing, I figured she was about to wake up.
Intrigued and terrified by the fact that even scanning every single fragment of face and body known in the past did not correspond to that of the person who was blissfully sleeping a few inches away from me, I started staring at her as if to memorise every feature, for fear that in my next awakening I could forget her too. The only one who could possibly answer my questions and tell me who I was.
The lightly made up eyes were still closed, while her plump and pink mouth was opened in a sweet smile.
In a daze, I found myself smiling too, as I finished examining those soft, silky cheeks, low forehead, and a small round nose.
The was good looking yet funny, undefinable age. Perhaps between twenty eight a thirty two years old.
ʻWhat about me? How old am I?ʼ I frowned, as I did with every new unanswered question that came to my mind.
ʻWhat do I look like?ʼ I wondered frantically touching my face as my eyes searched the room looking for a mirror.
I had to know.
I needed to know!
I kept having more questions.
My head felt like it was about to explode under the weight of those doubts and blanks.
I reached to touch her and shake her, but I found myself shaking in fear.
I was terrified that if I spoke to her, things would have complicated further and the question, they would become more.
Furthermore, that white dress I barely noticed before, suddenly became an alarm in my head.
ʻA wedding dress… She is a bride… My bride?ʼ My rationality mumbled aimlessly roaming like a flipper ball.
Shook and closer and closer to throwing up bile, I looked at myself.
The shirt was unbuttoned halfway through my chest and stained with champagne. It was obvious I had been partying before falling asleep.
ʻBut why? Am I a party animal? I don't think so... I don't know... I can't see myself getting drunk… especially with a womanʼ.
Yet my luck with that unmistakable: I just came out of a wedding.
With my anxiety on the rise, I moved my left hand to my face, looking for a wedding ring.
That’s when I heard in the chain again.
I looked again.
“What the hell…” I uttered in shock finding myself handcuffed to the headboard.
In that moment the shiny, brand-new golden ring shining on my finger was definitely the last of my worries.
Someone had tied me to the bed and the noise I heard was the metal chain running against the headboard!
Okay, but who? Why? When?
Suddenly the rage I was feeling, settled to nervousness that had been clutching my chest until then.
Trying to contain my irritation I pulled at the chain on my left wrist.
The chain looped around a declaration of the iron headboard. It was impossible to remove the chain from the bed without cutting the metal unless you had the key.
I was about to look for the key among the sheets, hoping that the idiot who had had that stupid idea, had also had the decency to leave me the key at hand, when I realised that the other end of the handcuffs wasn't connected to the bed but tightened to the woman's right wrist.
A sharp and sudden scream pierced the silence in the room, making me scream.
I turned in a panic.
The woman had woken up and two blue eyes full of terror were now staring at me.
“Who are you?” she shrieked, rolling off the bed.
Unfortunately the chain wasn’t long enough and I soon found myself with my wrist painfully bent next tot the headboard while she had her arm extended as she unceremoniously dell back on the mattress.
“Ouch!” I growled trying to pull the chain, while she continued to scream and squirm like a poor fox cub with its paw stuck in a trap.
We went at that tug of war for a while, trying to earn ourselves a few inches of chain.
“Let me go!” the woman further yelled.
“I can’t!” I roared, tired of getting my wrist slammed against the wall. That woman was stronger than I thought, even if she didn’t look like it.
“I said let me go.”
“I would but I can’t! I am tied to, don’t you see?”
“Free me! I want to leave… I don’t even know where I am! Where did you take me? Who are you? Let me go.”
The insistence of that woman and her questions screamed at 150 decibels, as if she wanted to break that chain with the force of sound, surely were injuring my eardrums.
And what infuriated me even more was that I didn't know how to calm her since I wasn't able to answer any of her questions.
“Please, calm down, alright? I don’t know why we are here. I don’t know who or what got us here. I don’t even know why you are wearing a wedding dress…”
That last sentence got her attention, as she suddenly stopped yelling to look down at the dress.
“I got married?” she barely whispered, looking at her hand and confirming it with the wedding ring that sparkled at her finger like a star in the night.
“I don’t know, but I thing you did” I answered carefully trying to avoid another panic attack.
“With who?” she mumbled scared, he cheeks turning bright pink.
“Perhaps with me?” I found myself asking, hoping in her memories, as I showed her my on ring.
“Perhaps?” she repeated sceptical.
“I don’t remember” I confessed giving way to despair.
In response, the woman stared at me for a long time.
I could see in her eyes the same anguish I felt inside me.
“But who are you?”
That question had the effect of destroying all my hopes.
She didn't know who I was either.
“I do not remember. I was hoping you could help me. I woke up a little while ago and I didn’t...”
I couldn’t finish the sentence that the chain started pulling again, while the hysterical scene from before resumed.
“Help!” She shouted at the top of her lungs. “Help! Someone come free me!”
“Will you stop screaming?” I puffed after five minutes of lacerations in my ear canal.
“Who are you? Why did you bring me here? What do you want from me? Why did you dress me like this? You drugged me to get married! Admit it!”
“Did you understand what I just told you? I lost my memory! I don't remember anything!”
“Do you think I'm stupid enough to believe you? If you think you're pitying me with this melodramatic story, you've made a big mistake. I intend to file a divorce if this marriage is even valid, you understand me, you damn stalker?”
“Stalker? Are you crazy? I don't even know you” I shouted indignantly. It was true that I didn't know anything about myself, but I refused to think myself capable of such things.
“How can you tell if you've lost your memory?” She countered triumphantly.
“You are right. I can’t. I think... ”I gave in, trying to keep my nervousness in check.
“Oh God! These things happen all the time: women kidnapped, raped, married under the influence of drugs…”
“Hey! Take it easy! As far as I know, this carousel may have been staged by you. A mad woman who kidnaps and drugs the man she is in love with”
“And how can you tell?”
“Unlike you, I know who I am.”
That statement totally blackout my brain.