He awoke in a strange bed in a white room that smelled of chemicals. A tube was stuck in his nose, and another in his arm. A tall woman with dark brown hair sat in a chair, reading a book. On the table next to him were a basket of flowers, and a battered stuffed tiger. He was clearly in a...
He couldn't think of the word. His memory was fragmentary, and missing pieces. He felt he should recognize the woman, but...there was nothing. He tried to sit up, and the movement caught the woman's attention; she dropped her book and rushed to him.
"Calvin! You're awake! Are you okay?" she said, kneeling by the side of the bed. She reached over and pressed a red button next to his bed, and a light near the door began flashing.
"Calvin...is that me?" he asked.
She wrapped her arms around him. "Yes. You're my Calvin. I'm your mother."
A short, dark-skinned woman in green clothes came in, asking, "What...oh! He's awake! I'll call the doctor."
The doctor had come in, looked in his eyes, and said something to the woman who claimed to be his mother. As the doctor left, a tall man with glasses had come in and claimed to be Calvin's father.
"What happened? Why am I here? Where is here?" Calvin asked.
The woman knelt back down beside him. "You got into an accident on your toboggan, and hit your head. If it hadn't been for Susie finding you, you might have died, so when you get home, you're going to be nicer to her. You're in the hospital, because you've been unconscious for two days. But now you're awake, and while the doctor wants to run more tests, she thinks you're going to come out of it okay. It's just going to take time to recover."
He nodded. The woman leaned over to give him a hug, and he hugged her back hesitantly. He couldn't think of any reason to doubt her claim to be his mother, but...he had no memories of her at all.
"Would you like Hobbes to keep you company while your father and I talk a bit more to the doctor?"
"Who's Hobbes?" he asked.
She pointed toward the table, concern creasing her brow. "Hobbes. Your tiger."
"Oh, the stuffed tiger's mine?"
He wasn't sure why that caused his alleged parents to look at each other with undisguised horror.
Calvin looked around his home. It should feel familiar, he thought, but...it didn't.
His mother - he'd finally come to the conclusion that she was probably telling the truth - came behind him. She carried his stuff that had gone to the hospital - mostly some clothes, and the tiger. She'd asked if he'd wanted to carry the tiger, and he'd just shrugged. He didn't much care either way.
That bothered people, and he didn't know why. Evidently he'd really loved that tiger, but...he couldn't remember it.
"You're supposed to rest your brain, Calvin," his mother said. "So why don't you go lie down on the couch for a while? Here, take Hobbes. You can nap if you'd like."
He took the tiger from his mother's hand. It was battered and worn, and some of the stitches were loose. Interesting stains on its fur told of adventures that he had no memory of. With a sigh, he took the tiger into the living room.
"Calvin, Susie's coming over to visit. She saved your life, so be nice," his mother said.
"Sure thing, Mom," he said, wondering just what he'd done that would make his mother concerned about that. Yet another hole in his memories.
A girl about his age came in, her straight brown hair cut in a bowl cut. She looked at him, worry on her face.
"You must be Susie. Thank you for saving me, even though I don't remember any of it."
"It's okay, Calvin. How are you doing?"
"There's a lot of things I don't remember." He leaned closer to her. "Actually, can you do me a favor?"
She looked at him suspiciously. "Depends what it is."
He pointed to the tiger sitting near him on the couch. "What's the deal with the tiger? Every time I say he's a stuffed tiger, everyone gets these concerned looks. Why?"
Her eyes got wide, and she looked at him with deep concern. "Because you've always claimed that Hobbes is real."
He looked over at the stuffed tiger. Maybe it was just the light, but he'd swear it was glaring at him.
"Weird," he said.
He'd spend a week mostly on the couch, getting 'cognitive rest' as the doctor called it. He'd enjoyed the calmness of it, which seemed to make his parents even more uptight.
The weird thing was, he'd swear the tiger was moving when he wasn't looking. The first time, he thought his mother had moved it. He'd left it on the couch to go have lunch, and when he came back, it was on the floor in the middle of a sunbeam.
"Mom? Did you move my tiger?" he asked, puzzled.
She came back in, a bit of a smile in the corners of her mouth. "No, I didn't. Maybe he moved on his own?"
Calvin woke up in the middle of the night, cold. That was odd. He'd gone to bed with his tiger, under plenty of blankets. He looked around in the dim glow of the night-light, trying to figure out what had happened. The blankets were all on the bed, wrapped around the tiger. Calvin had no idea why he would have done that, but he unwrapped the tiger and covered both of them with the blankets again.
He'd been sitting on this couch for two weeks now. He was completely sick of it. He wanted to go do something, but he'd been told to stay there. Mom had told him he had to keep the TV off, but maybe he could turn it on low and watch something there. Daytime soaps could be interesting.
He stretched out, bumping into Hobbes. Frustrated, he shoved the tiger further down the couch.
Hobbes shoved back.
"Move over, stripey-butt," Calvin said.
"You're going to shove me off the edge," Hobbes said, then looked up at him. "You're back!" he said, jumping up and pouncing on Calvin.
"Hey, get off me!" Calvin said. "I missed you too, but that's no reason to attack me!"
Calvin found himself wrapped up in a giant tiger hug, so tight he could hardly breathe. He pushed at Hobbes a bit, saying, "This is all your fault, anyway. You're the one who messed up my steering."
"I'm the one?" Hobbes said. "You were the one who wanted to go down the ravine in the first place."
"Why you..." Calvin pushed Hobbes off the couch, but Hobbes dragged him along; he landed on top of the great cat, who rolled him off onto the floor.
"CALVIN!" his mother yelled from the doorway. "You're supposed to be resting, not wrestling with Hobbes!"
"Not my fault!" Calvin said, pushing Hobbes off of him. "This furry lunk refuses to admit it was his fault we hit the tree."
Calvin had no idea why his mother hugged him when he said that, or why she started crying. Over her shoulder, he saw Hobbes stick out his tongue.