Beverly woke to the sound of a strange voice speaking right next to her ear. She would have flinched except for the fact that she seemed frozen in place, her body immobilized.
Her eyes slowly focused, as if they'd been open all along but not seeing. A bright light hung overhead—too bright to be anything in her house.
Where was she? A body came into view; a white jacket hung inches from her nose. A tiny light flicked back and forth across her face. She tried to close her eyes against the pain it caused, but her eyelids didn't cooperate.
"Patient is unresponsive."
A hospital…she tried to tell the doctor that she was awake but her lips didn't move. No sound issued from her throat either. A spark of panic lodged in her brain when Beverly realized she couldn't even shift her eyes from side to side.
Had she been in an accident? The last thing Beverly remembered was window-shopping in front of Hardy's Department Store. After that…nothing.
A withered arm came into view, flaccid and covered with age spots, as they strapped a wristband to it. The tag said Doe, J.
The doctor still spoke as if she couldn't hear him. "…patient looks to be approximately eighty-five years of age."
Beverly silently screamed into the abyss of the nearly dead.
"I'm only twenty-three!"
All eyes followed her entrance, but Darla was used to stares. She soaked up the admiration from the male contingent and ignored the daggers that seemed to spark from the female eyes.
Her green silk gown complimented her dark hair, making Darla the best-dressed woman at the party. The men circled around like moths to a flame, the atmosphere charged with possibilities as she danced with one after another.
She accepted a glass of champagne and drank to new beginnings, determined to leave her old life behind and start anew.
"Hello, police department? This is the manager of Hardy's Department Store. No, I'm not calling about the woman who collapsed outside the store yesterday. I'm calling to report a missing mannequin. She has dark brown hair and wore an expensive green silk dress…"
©2011 Laura Eno