My eyes opened as ants crawled along my forehead, ears and mouth. The birds shrieked out conversations from their perches in full-flowered bushes and tree branches high above my head. There was that initial moment of confusion, when someone returns from the other side, as I just had, every detail of my surroundings amplified and vivid as the manic brushstrokes of a crazed artist, the colors so violent, even within the folds of the flower petals. This world of shards. The sun splinters down and I’ve awoken to witness its intricate assault on the stark white of a virgin canvas. Their world is not an island without castaways like me.
The scene formed in fragments, memory shards fusing back together at their shatter points, while the sirens wailed, squirrels scurried up tree trunks, taxis screeched and honked, police boots click-clopped on sidewalks, someone screamed, other voices talked in a low mingled mumbling, sun, burning, sweating in too many rags, grass clippings stuck to my cheek, a raft for ants, I was, I am; my voice still works, words flying out like vomit, screaming before I spotted the mother with her baby watching me with fearful eyes. I’d screamed to remind myself I was alive. I was alive. Where, what park, in what city was I? What was my name? New York? Will? Will ran through my mind, over and over. Turn over, Will, turn over. Will. I was Will, before I died, that had been my name.
I raised my head from the matted grass and swiped ants from my face and ears, spat one from my mouth. I noticed the hard plaster of the cast on my left arm and the bandage, stained brown and stiff with dried blood, wrapped around my right hand. I didn’t remember the hospital, how the arm had broken or how the palm had been cut. I reached into the deep pockets of my trench coat for a cigarette, but instead found the rolled-up pages of the script—the one I’d lived by for what must have been years by then, the one I’d once memorized, but now had forgotten every word of.
The script could tell me where I’d been. The script would tell me who I’d been. Here. Here it is. Will Chase. That was my name. I played the lead role in a film that had very nearly killed me, and brought me here. I’d played an addict. Washington Square Park, Tompkins, Central? It was New York. I could be sure of that much now. I could smell New York. I could smell myself.
This is the downside to method. You don’t act, you become. And when the film wraps, you know you need to walk home, and that it will be a long, long walk; but the real challenge lies in the fact that the road home has no signs, and for the first night or two there won’t be a trace of moon, and the streetlights are dim as shit.