OUT OF SYNC BY GREGORY ALLEN
Thinking back, it was when he saw the picture that he realized that something wasn't right. He remembered the woman pictured, her sad, resigned, beautiful face, her eyes seeming to look into his, imploring him to some action, that there was hope. He had shaken off the impression, determining that the feeling was merely an echo of his recent recreational drug use.
The picture had belonged to a sweet, little old lady, whom he had helped move into the retirement center. He did not remember her name, probably because she was already gone by the time he came the following week. He thought nothing of it. Although it was unusual, he had learned from his court-ordered, community service at the nursing home, that sometimes the old folks passed away quickly once you removed them from their homes and put them into such a hopeless place.
Soon, he completed the prescribed treatment for his addiction, and his obligation to the state's penal system was fulfilled. He went on with his life, but was never able to lose the feeling of alienation he felt from that time forward. Memories, even those as recent as the previous day, lacked the color and clarity of those he remembered from his younger years. It was if he had left a movie theatre that had been playing his life on the screen to get some popcorn and had wandered back into the wrong theatre that had no exit.
As the long years stretched slowly on, he searched and researched the length and breadth of man's knowledge to the very edge of lunacy, never finding a solution or escape from his accidental prison. Always, he was goaded on by the soft voice in his head, calling his name, that faded and became more desperate as time went on.
Time and despair finally took their toll and he, like many old people, was committed to a state-run nursing facility. The final irony being assignment to the same home and room that had prompted his realization of disaffection all those years before. The home was no longer clean or maintained; its primary use now was for indigent, wards of the state, like himself. The picture, of course, was no longer there, if it ever had been. Likely, it was merely another symptom of his, then, emerging, and now in full bloom, insanity.
For months, he endured the callous and impersonal treatment by the unsympathetic and jaded nursing staff. At last, his heart failed and he was finally released from his body. He drifted upwards, feeling indifferent to the fact that the medical staff made no attempt to revive him. He passed out of the room and found himself accelerating rapidly down a dark tunnel towards a brilliant, white light. An arm reached out from the tunnel wall and grasped his shoulder, preventing him from going to the light. He knew that the light was the place to go and struggled to free himself as other souls passed him on the way to the end of the tunnel. The hand held its grip firmly.
"It's a trick!" a voice whispered urgently in his head. The hand pulled him through the side of the tunnel, into empty space and released him to fall though the black void. He fell for a long time until he was jarred by an impact.
Where he was now, he did not know. Awareness crept over him. He had a body and it was lying on a soft surface, perhaps a bed. His body was damaged in some way. He could feel the tubes in his arm discharging their fluids, fluids that would help him heal.
He opened his eyes and saw that he was, indeed, in a bed, a hospital bed. A short dark-haired woman was sitting in a chair at the foot of the bed reading a book. He stared at her familiar face, trying to get some sense of orientation. The woman felt his gaze and looked up. Her eyes widened as she jumped out of her chair and rushed sobbing to his side, clutching his hands and saying his name. The voice sounded so familiar. He had heard it in his head, crying his name for all those years. He had seen her picture. She was his.wife.
She looked, smiling into his eyes.
"Welcome back, honey." she said.