When Puaura’s eyes first opened, she could not remember much of anything. She could not remember the accident that had landed her in the hospital. She could not remember where she lived, or even her last name. She could not even remember how to walk.
“That is not due to your memories,” Dr. Wu explained. “You suffered extensive injuries in the collision. It is possible that you may regain the use of your legs, with intense physical therapy. But it is also possible…” He paused, head tilted to one side, as though he was trying to decide whether Puaura was strong enough to hear what he had to say.
“What is it?” asked Puaura. “I may not walk again?”
The doctor nodded. “Yes. And, well…I’m afraid that I have more unfortunate news to share with you. We’ve learned more information about your identity, and about your family. Does the name Ahio Kaho mean anything to you?”
Ahio? Puaura frowned, trying to push away the cloud that fogged her memory. Where had she heard that name? Shadowy figures danced around in her mind – people and places, but her mind could not grasp them.
“Ahio used to be your husband,” said the doctor. “The marriage was recently annulled. Ahio’s whereabouts are unknown.”
Unknown. Annulled. Husband. Small pieces of the puzzle slid into place. Puaura gasped. “My mother!” she looked up at the doctor, eyes wide. “I was on my way to visit – how is my mother?”
Doctor Wu’s eyes filled with sympathy. “I’m afraid she passed away last month,” he said. “You were still in a coma.”
“No!” Puaura gripped the handles of her wheelchair tightly. She cried out again as a spasm of pain racked her body. Dr. Wu called for a nurse, and within minutes, Puaura was lying in bed, heavily medicated, her grief subdued for the time being.
As the days passed, she sat in silence in her chair as memory after painful memory flooded her senses. The moment she remembered, she wished she could forget again. She tried to escape by reading, but found it hard to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time.
Once per day, Dr. Wu brought Puaura to another floor for physical therapy. She was grateful to escape her room and her haunted thoughts, although physical therapy was the hardest thing she had ever had to do.
The therapist was kind, but tough. He pulled, prodded, and poked until Puaura was sore. As Puaura re-learned how to make her body move, he shouted at her to keep going, keep going, until she was ready to collapse. “You are getting there,” he assured her again and again. “You are going to walk again.”
But then what? Puaura wondered. She had no husband, no family. She had not seen any of her friends in years. She could not live here in the hospital forever. But she had no home. What was she to do?