There were mornings when Desmond would get up, head for the shower, and literally run into the wall because he'd forgotten where he was.
There were mornings when he would just stand under the streaming water, staring at the showerhead and counting the holes for the hundredth time. Forty-two. Always forty-two, and it always made him laugh in a dry, cynical sort of way.
There were mornings when he would wake up to the sound of the alarm, go push the button, and then wander outside just to remind himself what fresh air was like, only to find that it was the middle of the night.
Sometimes, during the short periods he had for sleep, he would dream that he was sailing, finishing the race as though he'd never crashed. The ocean was always green-blue and calm, and there were always seagulls. Then the alarm would beep and he'd snap awake again, reminded that he was no longer in control.
It was hard, having no one to talk to, so when he got lonely, he talked to Penny. He offered apologies, made promises, all sorts of things that he would never be able to say if she was actually there. He told her he was sorry that he'd ever entered the race, that if he could go back to that moment in the parking lot outside the stadium, he wouldn't run away. He told her that he'd do everything he could to get back to her, and that he'd do his best to make up for everything. He promised to stop being such a coward.
And yet, he couldn't bring himself to keep those promises. No matter how many times he took the key out and stared at it, he couldn't find the courage to blow the dam. Maybe, if he knew what would happen, he'd do it. If he could be sure that using the failsafe would free him and not kill him, if he knew for sure that there really was somewhere other than the island for him to go…
Inevitably, he always put the key away. There were too many unknowns.
Once and a while, he'd rifle through the bookshelf, find a book that had an empty page at the end, and tear it out. Then he'd sit down at the table and write something, or doodle, anything, just to keep his mind occupied until the alarm sounded again. Once, he filled an entire page just with his name, Desmond David Hume, over and over and over, front and back. Just to remind himself who he was. That he still existed. That he hadn't somehow died and ended up in a hell that was exactly the same as his life had been for the past three years.
He cleaned all the guns in the armory. He unearthed the ping-pong paddles and bounced a ball off the ceiling for an hour. He put on the lone Mama Cass record, turned the volume all the way up, and lay on his back on the floor, staring at nothing, letting the music flood his mind.
After a while, it all ran together. Sleep, shower, button, music, dreams, reality…
But he kept on going, even though there were mornings when he stood, staring into the armory, and wondering why he bothered. Then he would tell himself that it had to stop sometime, that there was no way a situation like his could go on forever. Some way, somehow, it would end.
There were mornings when he actually had hope.