I was floating in a pool of warmth, surrounded by darkness, more relaxed than I ever imagined I could be. There were no sights, no sounds, just weightlessness all around me. Worry, pain and heartache were non-existent in the place I drifted. Out of nowhere there was a loud smack! and I felt a sharp stinging sensation on my cheek.
“Wake up!” a female voice commanded.
I moaned and turned my head away, desperate to remain in the peaceful state.
“I said wake up!” her last word was punctuated by another slap.
I opened my eyes and stared up at the older woman – slightly slanted brown eyes, small button nose, full pouty lips, dark hair streaked with white. She was radiant, her beauty marred only by a long-healed scar on her forehead above her right eyebrow. I moaned again, the only sound I seemed capable of making.
“A razor blade in the bathtub? How original,” the woman sneered as she reached down to pull me out of the pink-tinted water.
I was surprised to find that I felt no modesty about my naked body, even when her arms brushed my bare breasts as she propped me against the tub.
“First aid!” she called out, and the small MedicBot came zooming into the bathroom. It did a brief scan before wheeling over to me and getting to work on my wrists. The four metal arms clicked and clacked as they gently applied binding cement to the deep gouges and then wrapped my wrists in sterile bandages. The woman glared bullets at me during the procedure, the anger radiating off her in waves. Once the MedicBot left she stood.
“Get up and get into bed,” she said, her voice softer, but no less angry. She turned and stormed out of the bathroom, as if it didn’t even occur to her that I would disobey the order.
I felt as weak as a newborn kitten, but I somehow managed to get up and make my way towards my bedroom. At the threshold, I tripped over one of my discarded boots and stumbled, slamming my head into the edge of the desk. I felt a warm trickle of blood begin to make its way down the side of my face, but didn’t have the energy to care. I propelled my exhausted body across the room to the bed and flopped down onto my back on top of the rumpled sheets.
Before I had a chance to close my eyes, the woman was beside me, lifting a steaming mug to my lips.
“Drink this. It’ll help rebuild your blood cell count.”
I sat up and sipped the noxious liquid and returned the woman’s steady gaze.
“He’s not worth this,” she said, her voice brimming with emotion.
“You don’t know a damn thing,” I snarled, because really, a person’s ego can take only so much before it snaps.
“I do know,” the woman said simply, and looking into her beautiful dark eyes, I could almost believe she did.
I took a big gulp of the drink since, disgusting as it was, I could already feel my energy returning.
“Who are you, anyway?” I finally asked.
She let out a bitter laugh. “Who am I? I’m nobody if you don’t get your act together.”
She used her sleeve to gently blot at the blood trailing down my face. I heard a beep and the woman looked down at an expensive-looking communication device wrapped around her wrist.
“I have to go soon, so listen to me,” she said. “First, nobody, not even Gavin, is worth this.”
“How did you …?”
“Second, I know it seems like you’re surrounded by an impenetrable wall of misery right now, but believe me, you can break through. There’s an amazing life waiting for you that’s definitely worth living for.”
She stood and for the first time I noticed the faded, green, space serpent tattoo that started at her collarbone and curved around her neck. I knew without needing to see it that the serpent ended at the base of her spine. My hand fluttered to my own collarbone where the tattoo was still a bright, vibrant green.
“One more thing. In a few years one of your co-workers is going to tell you about a great idea he has for quantum flux simulation software. Invest every cent you have in your bank account.” Her smile was dazzling. “The software is priceless – and so is he.”
The device on her wrist beeped again and she disappeared.