He knew it was not him. He couldn’t quite explain how or why, but he just knew it was not him.
The face in the mirror was the same, the green eyes behind rimless glasses, the scar on both eyebrows, the thin lips, the slightly crooked teeth… everything was there. And yet, he couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that something was not right. That the face wasn’t his.
The surgery had gone perfectly well. Even the doctors were surprised at how fast he had recovered. He felt stronger too, and faster. It made him happy to have volunteered for the experimental procedure.
But that was then… now he wasn’t even sure what was going on inside his body. Or was it really all in his mind, like the doctors said?
No, he knew something was wrong. He could feel it.
The new heart now pumping life inside his chest was the only thing that truly felt like a part of him. But in a way that made no sense at all.
He remembered reading something once on an in-flight magazine. How for some eastern cultures the heart was the true seat of the mind and soul, and how people who received heart transplants sometimes could recall memories that were not theirs, but from the original owner of the heart.
But even if he was desperate enough to believe something like that could be true, this was a brand new heart. A perfect healthy organ grown in a vat from his own living tissue. No other mind or soul could have stowed away inside it.
Maybe he had really lost his mind and just hadn’t noticed. All he knew was everything about his own body felt foreign except for that pumping piece of meat he’d gladly rip out of his chest if it was not keeping him alive.
The nights were the worst part. Every time he tried to sleep the feeling would get stronger. He’d wake up sweating, feeling even more a stranger to himself. Feeling something lurking inside his own being.
He was exhausted now, but still refused to close his eyes. It was no use, three nights without sleep were just too much. His consciousness began to drift away against his will.
And then, it happened
He felt his mouth, no longer his, open to speak… He heard his voice no longer his, full of anger and disdain, address him sternly. All this he saw like a mere witness, no longer able to control a body that belonged to him no more.
“You are not what I wanted to be. You are not my hopes and dreams. You squandered them to become a sad little man, so afraid of taking risks that you forgot how to live. But you’ve given me a second chance… You don’t deserve this life, so I’m taking it all back.”
The sun was barely coming up When he opened his eyes, feeling totally relaxed. He walked to the mirror and looked into his face, everything was right. He had never felt so good inside his skin. Green eyes looked back at him with a fire that burned with thirst to live.
He smiled. This was a brand new day after all, he wasn’t going to waste it. He planned to live it with his whole heart.
Deep within his brain, a captive memory of his former self silently screamed.