I moved over to one of the chairs and sat in it, watching the door. I wasn't sure where I was, or quite how I'd gotten there. But I didn't feel anxious. That surprised me, slightly. It occurred to me that, not knowing where I was should have made me worry. But it simply didn't.
I closed my eyes and sunk deeper into the chair. For all their simplicity--it was very comfortable. For the first time in months, I felt like I could fall asleep and sleep for hours and hours, uninterrupted. As I sat, waiting, time seemed to move quickly around me.
A very soft knock at the door opened my eyes as the handle turned with a click.
I stood as it opened and I found myself face to face with a kind, familiar face.
My second grade teacher, Mrs. Linden.
Her face, just as I remembered it, smiled at the surprise she saw play across my features. Her gray hair, plaited into a braid. Smile lines around her mouth and eyes. I even glanced down to notice her hands, which had always been dusted with chalk as she waved them around energetically. They were clean now, but still looked just as wrinkly and soft.
Stepping forward into the room, she put her arms around me briefly and reached up to touch her cheek to mine. I was surprised to find that I was taller than her. When I'd seen her last, that had been different. Some things had changed.
"It's good to see you, Anna" she said, cheerfully, "I have to say I wasn't expecting to see you yet, but I'm glad just the same."
"You too" I responded automatically, pausing briefly to wonder what she meant by "yet." I hadn't really expected to see her again, ever.
She gestured to the chairs, "Please, sit! Let's catch up and chat for a few minutes. I'm sure you have questions."
I took my seat again and she went and sat opposite me. I looked at her and was aware that her hazel eyes were looking at me very intently, if kindly. Searching for something. I was the first to look away and down at the peony.
"I love peonies. But they're out of season right now."
"Yes, I would've imagined you'd like them. They're some of my favorites as well."
After a pause, I looked at her again. She sat back in her chair. She had on a forest green corduroy jumper with a peach turtleneck under it. Just like I remembered her.
Finally, I took a breath and said "I don't know where I am."
She nodded, but said nothing.
"I don't even really know how I got here" I laughed, embarrassed.
"Don't worry about that. I think you'll find if you think hard enough, you'll remember. But it's really not important" was her easy reply.
"Oh, well. I guess if it doesn't matter... can you tell me where I am, though?"
And as suddenly as I had uttered it, I felt a tremble of unexplicable sadness that took me by surprise. My eyes sought hers and suddenly there was a flash of remembering. I realized that tears were springing to the corner of my eyes and my hand flew to my mouth. Mrs. Linden knelt quietly by my chair, her hand on my knee.
I was shaking my head, trying to decipher the memories that were suddenly spreading out before me. Memories that didn't seem to be my own, because I wasn't in them.
Placing her hand on my cheek, Mrs Linden lifted my head and said "Yes, Anna. What you're remembering? Yes."
I stood suddenly, and she knelt back--looking up at me.
"I'm dead." I whispered.
"Yes." was her soft, sympathetic reply.