I remembered clearly, however, that I was supposed to draw pictures of my family and label them. There was a bedside table and a light colored spot. Yes, paper. I fumbled around and found a pencil, then clumsily drew three stick figures on the paper and tried to write names. I couldn’t feel the pencil well, and it was difficult to hold, with my numb, nearly immobile fingers. I couldn’t see any of my drawing or writing, but I made some squiggles on the paper and moved on.
I was getting nervous. I’ve always been an “A” student. I needed to ace this test! The table. Yes, I was supposed to clear the table. The napkins and plates were red and fairly easy to see. The plastic utensils were white. There were some plastics cups. I piled up the paper plates, then put the napkins on the plates, then added “silverware.” I could feel the woman looking at me and I wanted to ask where to put the stuff, but I couldn’t talk. Finally, I just placed it all in the far corner of the table.
Then what? I wandered around. I looked at everything. I wracked my brain. It had seemed so simple when the woman at the door named my tasks, but I knew now that the voices had distracted me.
What next? I couldn’t find another thing that triggered a memory.
The woman in the shadows spoke. “You’re doing fine, she said. “Just two more tasks to complete.”
I don’t remember if I was startled into speaking or if I was just thinking, but my response was, “Two? I’ve done four. I had five. She’s saying six. Two more? Is she trying to trick me?”
I felt imprisoned by time. I just wanted this over. I no longer needed an “A.” I spotted a chest in a corner. On top was a pitcher and there were some drinking glasses. I fumbled around and carefully got my gloved and taped fingers through the pitcher handle. I knew that this wasn’t my task, but I also knew I should do something – anything – to prove I wasn’t failing.
I poured some water in a glass. Should I drink it? I was thirsty. What if it isn’t water? What if it isn’t even meant as part of this training? What if it’s toxic? I put the glass down. When will this be over? When? Six minutes? They are lying. They are playing with my mind.
I stood still, eyes roaming the room, trying to concentrate. I struggled to look around those horrid black circles, through the cloudy lenses, into the darkness. What am I missing? This is an eternity.
Finally, the woman spoke. “Your time is up,” she said. The door to the brightly lit hallway opened. A different woman came through the doorway and grasped my arm. She led me into the hall. Someone from behind took off my confusion earphones and put on another pair. The voices in my head were gone. Now, all sound was muffled.
“We’re going up some stairs,” the woman told me. Grabbing my elbow, she guided me as I hesitantly felt my way up one flight of steps. I had to bump my toes into the riser of each step, then shuffle up. She was going too fast. Should I tell her my feet hurt? She’s going too fast! I’m afraid I’ll fall. We got to a landing, turned, and I stumbled my way up another flight. We went through a door.