Jacob would read the first page of his diary each time he had the chance. This was typically late at night or early in the morning, whenever Miss. Garside, his nurse, was not around. The diary was not a secret yet he kept it well hidden. Each time he wanted to add to it or read from it Jacob would have to move aside his bedside desk and prise three small sections of floorboard up before even seeing the embossed leather cover of the only thing that instilled feelings of freedom within him. The first page recalled his only memory from before waking up an amnesiac in isolated care and some memories from shortly after regaining consciousness, it read:
I was walking through a train. I can’t remember what train it was or where it was going, why I was on it or where I had to be. The train moved quickly through a long dark tunnel, there were some problems with the lights, they flickered on and off leaving everybody in darkness at certain intervals and I had to keep stopping whenever it went dark. A baby cried as its mother whispered her reassurances, two young children giggled through the sputtering lights and played chase games throughout the shadowed carriage. Others showed annoyance through sighs and grunts. I managed to reach the end of the carriage and get through the doors before more darkness. When it came I was stood waiting between carriages. As the lights blinkered into life again a horrendously metallic blast of sound screeched loudly from not too far away. Hysteric screams began in the distance and before I knew it I was being tossed around in this small compartment. With my face and limbs feeling mashed and contorted I could just about distinguish my legs through the globs of blood that my eyebrows couldn’t divert. Then, the final thing I saw was a glistening rod of metal pierce through the underside of my right thigh. That was it. The next thing I knew a beautiful, blonde haired and feline faced woman was waking me. This was Nina Garside, my nurse. The first thing that she did was to tell me all about what had happened. She made a point of the fact that she had little to do with my care until this moment and that she did not know the full extent and details of my injuries and had only been given a summary herself. Following the crash I had needed intense surgery to reconstruct sections of my body. During these operations complications arose which meant later having to put my body into a comatose state. Sections of my brain had been badly damaged and despite their best efforts to rectify the damage this meant that I would have difficulties with certain brain functions. She cut herself short saying that I need not know anything accept what she had told me until I was in a more stable state. She then explained the unusual method of care I am now kept in. I have been assigned a bungalow, in which I am locked into, deep in the countryside because of the inability to find anyone to account for me. I find this odd but know no better, maybe all of my family was dead and I never had any friends. It’s not a big place, the front door opens into the sizable living room with a corridor on the opposite side. My bedroom is on the left of this corridor, the kitchen on the right and bathroom at the far end.
Around a year after the accident and Jacob stood studying his face in the mirror as he did every morning before Nina would arrive at nine. He would stare into his big blue eyes that were divided by his thin but long nose leading to his plump red lips. His thick black hair had begun to grow back in patches that varied in lengths, divided by scars. Jacob never saw his scars as reminders or as symbols of his pain. He didn’t view them with any sadness at all. He soon broke his stare, opened the cabinet before him and took a pill from three separate bottles. He looked at them sitting in his hand and without much hesitation reached across and tore some toilet roll, wrapped up the pills and threw them into the toilet before sitting down to relieve himself. Whilst he did a key turned in the door and the soft but prominent voice of Nina echoed through the bungalow, “Hello…Jacob? Jacob, it’s me.”
The toilet flushed and whilst Jacob’s figure appeared through the frosted glass of the toilet door Nina proceeded to unpack a newspaper from her black briefcase and place it on the coffee table in front of Jacob’s chair. He walked straight past her to take up his usual place slouched on the lone armchair of his cottage and turned on the television. The nurse broke a bemused stare as if to hold back her irritation and continued into the kitchen. Whilst busying herself, rushing to prepare breakfast for Jacob, she called through to him, slouched and mouthing something as he sat fixated by the television, “have you taken your pills?” To which there was no reply. The nurse paced back through to Jacob, blocking his view of the television but failing to break his stare and continued in her attempts to gain his attention, “Jacob? Jacob, I know that you heard me.” Jacob simply rolled his eyeballs upwards to make eye contact holding his stare in silence, “well then? Jacob, answer me I’m in a hurry.”
“What’s with the suit?”
“I asked first, so you answer first.”
“But you want an answer more than I do.”
“Well, I have a meeting with my managing director today. I’ve only come to make breakfast today and I’ll be returning this evening to make sure you get to bed ok.”
“What’s the meeting about then?” he asked.
“I think it’s your turn to answer my question.”
Jacob stared blankly at Nina until she carried on, “look, I don t know myself alright, now tell me Jacob, have you taken your pills this morning?”
To which Jacob simply mumbled beneath his breath with a slight nod of his head. Nina took this as a yes and after finishing preparing his breakfast she left him alone for the day. She had never done this before but felt confident enough to leave him in the knowledge that upon her return he would almost certainly still be sitting transfixed by the television screen. Jacob immediately turned the television off after she had left and fetched his diary once more. He didn’t read the first page as he usually does but instead went straight to work on his latest entry writing,
It’s been a month since I began flushing my pills, at first I just wanted to see why I needed them, a bit sadistic, but what have I got to live for? Now I know I never needed them. I feel a lot more focused than when I was taking them. The first week was difficult, trying to act as if I was tanked up on whatever the pills really are but I seem to have got the hang of it, well, Nina doesn’t notice anything different. I figure sitting like a slug in front of the television and falling to sleep when she is around is all I need to do, that being all that I ever did on those things. In itself this seems strange when I think about it in more detail. This nurse has been assigned to me by the health service with the main priority of seeing to my basic needs, most of which I can actually carry out myself, surely then she should be aiding in my rehabilitation if nothing else, trying to help me recollect the memories I have lost, but no, she is completely content to let me numb my mind, carrying out no kind of mental exercise, whilst she rifles through what I can only presume are official documents relating to her work. I can only speculate, all I know is that I never needed those pills, sure I feel weak and need to keep my health up, but in terms of basic survival, no, I never needed those pills.
Jacob was interrupted from his writing by the sound of his letterbox snapping shut. Without fully considering the noise he quickly hid the diary back beneath the floorboards and tentatively walked towards the front door. On the floor sat an envelope with his name scrawled hurriedly on its front. He picked it up and quickly moved between each of the bungalows windows, surveying the surrounding grasslands in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the sender. Unable to see anybody he sat back in his chair and opened the letter that simply read, ‘Jacob, if you believe there is more to your situation than meets the eye then this is the confirmation, I wish to meet you. Find your way to Millview Cottage, the red house overlooking the disused quarry. Sebastian’