Nora awoke in a white washed room. The lights were blinding and the sounds of beeping electronics were present. She looked down at her arm, there was an IV pumping clear fluid into her veins. Wow, Nora thought, I can’t believe I’m alive. In fact, Nora felt great. She was tired and sore, but she could breathe deeper and her vision was clear. Nora laughed to herself quietly, after a horrific plane crash, she felt better. A nurse dressed in pastel scrubs walked into the hospital room. Her hair was in quite the 80’s up-do. It was full of hairspray and pulled into a neon scrunchii. She looked very familiar to Nora.
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“Hello, Nora, how are you feeling?” The nurse asked as she checked Nora’s IV drip.
“Fine, how is everyone else?”
“You mean your husband? Don’t worry he is down in the cafeteria getting some coffee.”
“My husband? You mean Jim?” Nora did not feel like explaining to the nurse that they were divorced, it was just easier to let her think they were married.
“Oh yes, I forgot his name. You did great, for a while there I was worried,” the nurse smiled widely.
“Oh,” Nora smiled confused, “where are my kids?”
“Kids?” The nurse asked, “do you want me to go get your daughter?”
“Yes..” Nora didn’t understand why only one of her kids was here. Why did the nurse look so confused when she said kids with an s? Hm. Nora looked down at her wrist at the hospital band. It said Malone, Nora. “Can anyone get my last name right?” she asked aloud, “for god sakes it’s Cassidy again!” Nora closed her eyes and tried to imagine what had happened after the plane crash. Her memory was completely blank. The nurse wheeled in a baby. Nora was confused.
“Here she is,” the nurse proclaimed cheerfully.
“Come again?” Nora asked, “whose baby is that?”
“It’s Sydney, silly!”
Nora’s stomach dropped. She broke into a cold sweat. What was the crazy nurse talking about?
“You must be mistaken, Sydney is 21 years old!” Nora said in a panicked voice.
“Nora, you just gave birth to Sydney earlier this morning, you must be awfully tired.”
“No it can’t be, there was a plane crash!” Nora yelled.
“Miss Malone, calm down, it must have been one strange dream you had,” the nurse looked worried.
Nora propped herself up in bed and looked at the infant. She was damned. It struck an uncanny resemblance to Sydney. She could not erase the image of that petite, red haired, green-eyed baby out of her mind if she tried. Something was terribly, terribly wrong! Nora picked up the child; there was only one way to find out if this was really Sydney. Nora peaked into the baby’s diaper. The real Sydney had a small brown mole just above her right butt cheek. Nora gasped when she saw, clear as day, that the baby had the same mole.
“Nora, are you okay? Maybe you should put the baby down.” The nurse reached for Sydney.
“No!” Nora barked, pulling the baby closer, “can you just leave us be? Yes I had a very strange dream. It was so realistic, I didn’t mean to frighten you, I was just getting over it.”
“Are you sure? Is there anything else I can help you with, Nora?”
“Yes, can you just tell me today’s date?”
The nurse was stunned, “well it is a date you should know, it’s your daughter’s birthday.”
“Please, it just slipped my mind, in all of this… excitement.”
The nurse smiled condescendingly, “April 2nd, 1988.”
Nora masked her unrelenting and utter confusion with a polite, “thank you,” as the nurse walked out of the room. What kind of sick joke was this? This was some elaborate prank that someone was pulling. Nora’s suspicion rose as she thought of Jim. He would go to some great length to trick Nora. But a fake baby, with a fake mole? It was almost absurd, but not as absurd as what some would call time travel. The baby looked up into Nora eyes, so innocent and forgiving. Not only did this baby look like Sydney; this hospital room was definitely the same one she had stayed in that fateful day in 1988. The hanging calendar on the wall even said April 2nd, 1988. This sure was elaborate. There was only one way to find out for sure, Nora set down the infant and scuttled slowly to the bathroom. Her reflection in the mirror hit her like a ton of bricks. She was 22 again. She put her hand up to her cheek. It was soft and wrinkle free. No crow’s feet or frown lines. Her hair was long and free of any gray coloring. Nora groped at her body blindly. It was all the same, her tight toned legs and her carefully pedicured toes. She moved as quickly as she could back into the room. Sitting on the bed was none other than Jim cradling the baby as it softly drifted off to sleep. Nora’s mouth physically dropped when she noticed how young Jim looked. He had a full head of thick brown hair and sported a trim muscular physic. He even had the same goatee that he had back in 1988. In addition, Jim was clad in the exact same clothes he wore on the day of Sydney’s birth. Could this be real? Had Nora just imagined that last 21 years of her life? Nora’s heart felt like it was going to beat out of her chest.
“Honey, what’s wrong, you don’t look so good,” Jim asked as he rocked the baby.
Jim hadn’t addressed her as honey in so long. Nora fanned herself as she practically collapsed into a chair. Jim quickly placed Sydney on the bed and rushed to Nora’s side.
“Nora, are you okay?” Jim felt Nora’s forehead with the back of his hand, “do you need me to call a nurse?”
“No, no, no,” Nora reassured him, “I’m just tired.”
Jim kissed Nora tenderly on the lips. Nora’s heart fluttered uncontrollably. She felt like a high schooler. Nora was scared to ask Jim what was going on. She knew she would look insane.
“Jim?” Nora asked timidly, “is this some kind of joke?”
“No honey,” Jim smiled coolly, “ha, I feel the same way, it’s crazy, I mean were parents now!”
Nora looked around desperately for some kind of an explanation. She knew for now she was just going to have to play the part until true sense was restored. However, it just didn’t make any sense. Was this some kind of an Ebenezer Scrooge deal? She was reliving her most crucial moments? It was certainly no out of body experience because Nora could feel everything. Her mind was cold sober. Jim hugged her tightly as she stared blankly at the white hospital room walls. Then Sydney let out her distinctive wail and it became all too clear to Nora that this was no laughing matter.