Jersey Six - Jewel E Ann
A simple bee sting can set off a chain of reactions to stop a human heart.
The man glanced at the stormy blue eyes taking pity on him, and he chuckled to ease the worry in the young nurse’s mind. “I think I was stung by a bee. Years ago … maybe as a child.” He shrugged, scratching his dirty-blond bedhead while lowering his gaze to his feet, clad in blue canvas sneakers, dangling from the side of the hospital bed. “I remember a sting and burn on my neck. Before I knew it, my whole body started to turn red, and I felt itchy everywhere. Hives appeared out of nowhere. My face began to swell; my throat constricted. I couldn’t swallow … I couldn’t breathe.”
“You remember that?” Faith asked.
Faith—the perfect name for a nurse.
“Yes. I think. I mean, why would that pop into my head if it didn’t happen to me?” The nameless man feathered his fingers over the burns on his hands. After countless surgeries, months of unimaginable pain, and the emotional tragedy of losing his memory, he stood on the precipice of being thrust into an unknown life.
“I’m not an expert on amnesia, but I would imagine any memory is a good sign. So yeah, that’s good.” Faith’s encouraging smile brought a tiny bit of light to the darkness. For months she had bestowed unconditional kindness on the man covered in scars.
Unrecognizable as a human. At least, that was what he thought.
Something a young child could create with crumbly, dry, Play-Doh.
Ugly felt like a compliment. Hideous and unsightly better described his appearance. Thick, raised, and uncomfortably stiff scars covered eighty percent of his body, making him unrecognizable. Erasing fingerprints—dissolving his identity.
“Good, huh?” He wondered if anything in his life would ever be good again. “Good that I remember something? Good that I know to watch out for bees? Because let’s be honest … I survived a fire. The doctors said it’s a miracle that I’m alive. I’ve lost my memory. It’s unknown if I’ll ever get it back. Yet … my one solid memory is that I nearly died from a single bee sting.”
The man chuckled. Glancing up at Faith, he found her wrinkled-nose expression rather cute. “So let’s review what we know. I can walk through an inferno, my skin literally melting from my body, but if on the other side there happens to be an angry bee … I’m a dead man.”
“Unless you have an EpiPen, which I highly recommend.”
He liked Faith. She had a husband and a two-year-old little girl named Izzy. They just got a dog, a doodle of some sort, and named it Gingie. He liked her all-American story. She was the best part of his day.
“So how’s this all going to go down?”
“What do you mean?” Faith cocked her head to the side, exposing two tiny moles on her neck. They were familiar because she comprised a large part of his new memory. The citrus scent of her rich golden hair pulled into a high ponytail, the pink lipstick, and the neon yellow sneakers would forever remain embedded into the working parts of his brain.
“No one has claimed me.”
And sadly, no one seemed to be looking for the nameless man.
“And I don’t have anything—money, a social security number, a bed. Just … nothing. How do I pay for the hospital bills? Where do they even send the bills? Where will I sleep tonight?”
Faith rested her hand on his hand. The scars made it difficult to feel certain things, but he felt her warmth, and it felt like everything.
“I’m going to have someone talk to you about all of this. They will help you figure it out. A place to stay. Maybe a payment plan. And the police will continue looking for some leads on your family.”
“What if I don’t have family? That would explain why no one is looking for me. What if they died in the accident? What if …” He shook his head, pinching his eyes shut. “What if it wasn’t an accident? What if I’m some sick serial killer who killed my family, blew up the home, and myself in the process? What if I hobbled incoherently to the hospital? Did they check? Do you think the police checked for arson, murder … something like that?”
Faith squeezed his hand. “You are the sweetest patient I have ever had the pleasure of helping. You never complained, even when I had tears in my eyes watching you endure