The incessant beeping from the instruments around her woke her up. She opened her eyes with difficulty and tried to remember where she was as she looked around with blurry vision. Her head felt as if it had taken a beating from a hammer. The rhythmic beep of a machine was the first thing that registered. Then came the sterile white, the stale air, and the suffocating silence. Panic clawed at Ava's throat as she tried to speak, but her mouth felt like sandpaper. A fuzzy image swam into view – a kind-faced nurse with worried blue eyes.

"Ms. Thorne? Can you hear me?"

Ava managed a weak croak, hoping that was her name. The nurse explained that she was in a car accident where she sustained severe brain injury. Ava tried to comprehend what the nurse was telling her, while her senses were overwhelmed with an excess of information. She was petrified, as she tried to remember her name, her face, anything that would give her some inkling. Seeing her terror, the nurse brought her a mirror, hoping it would trigger a memory. Ava's reflection in the mirror revealed a face that seemed both familiar and foreign, a puzzle of features she couldn't quite place. Her visage bore the marks of a life lived, yet her eyes held a poignant emptiness, devoid of recognition as they gazed back at her in confusion.

Her almond-shaped eyes, once alive with laughter and depth, now held a shadow of uncertainty, searching for clues within their depths. Dark, curly hair framed her face in unruly waves, a contrast to the controlled chaos of her thoughts as she struggled to grasp memories that remained elusive. 

Lines of worry and bewilderment etched her forehead, as if each furrow carried the weight of the unknown. The curve of her lips held a hint of sadness—a silent plea for answers to questions she couldn't articulate.

The reflection showed a face marked by recent trauma, faint bruises and bandages hinting at a life-altering accident. Yet beyond the physical injuries, it was the shattered memory that left Ava feeling adrift, disconnected from the person she used to be. Ava was devastated, she had absolutely no memory of her past life. 

Days turned into a blur of tests and questions. Dr. Reyes spoke of retrogradereterograde amnesia, an inability to recall memories frommemoriesfrom before the onset of amnesia. A detective, a gruff man named Miller, who was assigned to her case showed her photos of  a chipped passport, a phone with a shattered screen, and one with a bunch of friends and a woman with fiery red hair that seemed vaguely familiar. These were found at the scene of the accident. 

"Do you recognize anything?" Miller's voice was laced with frustration.

Ava shook her head, the emptiness inside mirroring the blank picture frames on the bedside table. With each passing day, fear morphed into a dull ache. With all her memories erased, she had no clue - Who was she? What kind of life did she lead? Was she loved, hated, alone? Did she like coffee or tea? Was she an introvert or an extrovert? Did she have a family? Was she married or single? Every face at the door, every phone call, brought a flicker of misplaced hope, quickly extinguished by the relentless amnesia.

A few days later, a young orderly named Ben shuffled in with a dusty box. 

"Found this in your belongings," he said, setting it down gently. 

It was a worn leather guitar case, the name Ava Thorne etched across it, along with a tiny purse and a battered phone.  Her purse just had a couple of cards and her ID. Her phone had taken a beating as well and its memory corrupted and wiped clean just like her brain. On touching the guitar, a faint memory flickered – the feel of the worn wood against her fingers, the thrill of a song taking flight.

A nurse, noticing Ava's reaction, smiled and asked "Music therapy session tomorrow?"

Hesitantly, Ava agreed. The next day, in the music therapy session, the nurse handed her guitar to her, and Ava felt like a missing part had returned.  The melody that flowed from the guitar was like a forgotten language, each note stirring emotions she didn't know she possessed. It was a journey, a rediscovery. As the days turned into weeks, songs slowly became memories. She got flickers of memory like playing gigs, the roar of the crowd at her music, the joy of creating melody, etc.

One day, a man with vaguely familiar laughter appeared at the door. His eyes widened. 

"Ava? Is that really you?" 

It was Alex, one of the people from the pictures that Miller showed her. He said he was a friend and a photographer who captured most of her gigs and that he had started looking around and inquiring in hospitals when he didn't see or hear from her for weeks. He spoke of her fiery passion, infectious energy, and her music that touched souls. He told her how she was loved and how much she lived for her music. Through Alex's stories and the melodies she coaxed from the guitar, Ava started rebuilding a life, a life not based on her past she might not remember, but a life she was determined to build and live to the fullest.

Ava Thorne might not have been the same woman who woke up in the hospital, but as she strummed her guitar, the melody carried a newfound strength. The future was a blank canvas, but this time, she had the brush in her hand.


About the writer 

Haritha Nukala AKA Harry  is  a photographer, writer, and a creative enthusiast whose love for storytelling knows no bounds. With a frequent dabbling in poetry and fiction writing, she honed her craft through a blog for over a decade during the early days of blogging. Though life's twists and turns led her to take a hiatus from writing after becoming a parent, Harry is now determined to reignite her passion and share her musings with the world once more. She currently posts regularly on her Substack platform - The Anecdotist, where she delves into the realms of fiction writing and introspective musings.

You can follow her on her Instagram Handle: The Anecdotist

And via her Photography Handle: Memories by Haritha

Haritha wrote this piece as her final assignment for a for a six-week Creative Fiction Writing WorkshopThis is what she had to say about the workshop.

"I recently had the pleasure of participating in the Creative Fiction Writing Workshop, and I must say, it exceeded all my expectations. As an aspiring writer struggling to find structure in my writing, this workshop was a game-changer for me.

Led by seasoned writing coach and author, Shweta Ganeshkumar, the workshop offered a perfect blend of theory, practical exercises, and personalized feedback. Shweta's expertise in guiding writers to unlock their creativity was evident from the very first session. Her insightful lectures on plot development, character arcs, and narrative structure provided me with a solid foundation to build upon.

By the end of the workshop, I not only gained a deeper understanding of story structure and writing techniques but also found a renewed sense of confidence in my writing abilities. I highly recommend this workshop to any writer looking to hone their skills, find their voice, and bring structure and depth to their writing. Thank you, Shweta, for an enriching and inspiring experience!"

Inkspire wishes Haritha Nukala all the very best on her writing journey. 

We hope to read more from her in the years to come. 


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