idol season nine | week 35 | 935 words
Men and melons are hard to know
I remember yesterdays and yesterdays, but I don't remember years. It's strange being convinced that there are such long spans of time, when I can't even place myself in them. Still, I know it's true.
I speak un peu de français, but I don't know my name apart from what the doctors tell me. I don't even know my favorite color, although I seem to like red—but was that the same color I liked before? Am I reading books I never liked before, and eating foods I used to hate? Every day I wake up in the same gray room with the metal-framed bed, the room with no pictures or other personal decorations. I know I was there yesterday, and that I've been there for quite some time.
But all the days run together after a while.
Breakfast is usually delivered to my room, and then I'm escorted to a library. I'm usually alone except for the guards, and I spend my mornings reading, listening to music, and watching movies. Mornings are great. Then I have lunch, and go outside to exercise. I'm good at shooting baskets, but I don't remember anything about basketball itself. I'm left-handed (and I don't think amnesia would change that), but not good at drawing. I write numbers pretty well, though.
Sometimes the doctors ask me questions, like "What year is it?" or "Do you know who the President is?" or "What's the earliest thing you can remember?"
Every new question is a test I'm bound to fail, but I know the answers to the ones they've asked before. I wonder if they think my memory might be getting worse? Are they checking to see if I'll forget recent information as much as I've forgotten the past?
"Why am I here?" I sometimes ask.
"It's too dangerous for you in the outside world, at least until you recover your memory."
I don't think I'm the only patient here, although I've never talked to any others. How can they afford the staff and facilities to take care of us on a long-term basis?
I haven't had any visitors that I can remember. Does anyone know I'm here? Do I have a wife? Kids? I'd like to think there's someone waiting for me, but I'd hate to have her worrying about money and trying to take care of everything by herself, and if there were kids, this would sure be hard on them. How can I not remember basic things like family? Maybe it's proof that I don't have one.
One of the guards (I'm told they're orderlies, but they seem more like guards) was pretty nice. Bruce and I used to chat once in a while, mostly about the weather or things I'd read or watched, or sometimes I just asked him about his life outside the job. He got reassigned a few days ago, though. Darryl is here instead now, and he doesn't talk much. I've tried, but he just ignores me.
I felt better about the monotony and losing my identity when Bruce was still around.
One morning (the note on my breakfast tray says it's a Tuesday), I'm watching "The Apartment" when something in my head kind of "clicks". I can't wait to tell the doctor about it!
I get through lunch and throw a football with Daryl for bit, and then it's finally time for my afternoon session with Doctor Trammel.
"Sit down, please, and let's begin. Good, just like that. So, do you know what year it is?" Doctor Trammel asks.
"Forget the year. I know who I am now! I'm an accountant," I say. "I remembered it this morning."
"What makes you say that, Alex?"
"I just know. And that's another thing—my name isn't Alex March, it's Will Ashburn. Why have you been calling me the wrong name all this time?"
"Guard," the doctor mutters quietly, and Darryl steps forward and clamps his hand over my arm. Dr. Trammel picks up the phone and makes a call. "We have a rebound on Floor 2, East Wing. Initiating reprocessing…"
"Wait a minute." I try to pull away, but Darryl's hand is like a vise. "What's going on? I know who I am now, you can let me go home!"
"That's not how it works," the doctor says. "We research techniques for suppressing memories, not recovering them. Once you remember, we send you back for reprogramming. This was your best trial yet, though—you stayed wiped for six whole months this time."
Darryl grips my arms with both hands and pulls me out of my seat, then marches me out the door and down the hall. At the end is another door, marked "Procedure Room," and we go through it. I see a chair with monitors and restraints waiting there, and all kinds of equipment nearby. Darryl straps me down to the chair, and waits.
"But wait," I say, struggling to get free. "You keep me stuck here while I have amnesia, and as soon as I remember anything, you erase it all again! When do I finally get to leave?"
The doctor fastens a helmet onto my head, and pushes a button on the console. "You don't," he says. My skin starts to feel hot.
"No!—" I shout, but then my tongue stops moving. It's thick and frozen. A prickly wave sweeps across my head and makes the room go black.
I choke and gasp and try to pull out of the straps. Don't do this! I can't—
My thoughts skip and scatter like a riot of panic until everything turns to static.
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