The first thing I was aware of was a general feeling of numbness. It was all over my body, so engulfing that it felt like I didn’t have a body at all. I wondered if I was laying down, or floating. And if I was laying down, where was I?
I opened my eyes. The only difference was that instead of everything being the usual black hues a person sees when their eyes are closed, everything was a foggy white. Am I blind, I thought? And if so, are my other senses enhanced? Because I’m all about being a superhero.
“Hello? Sir, are you awake?” said a female voice, somewhere in the haze.
I tried to answer, (assuming she was talking to me) but it seems that I’d left my mouth in my other pants (is that even a saying anymore?) and all I could get out was a string of drool and random vowels.
“Aaaaaeeeeeoo?” I responded casually.
“It’s alright if you can’t talk sir. One of the side effects of the medication is dry mouth. Here, have some water,” the voice said. “Wait a minute, let’s get your eyes clear first.”
I felt a cloth rubbed across my eyes and my vision cleared. I looked around to get my bearings. I was on a bed in a white room, surrounded by white things. White walls, white towels, white curtains and white uniforms. The only things that weren’t white were the IV bags and the tubes going into my arms. One bag-tube combination was a very bright, dark red. Blood. I was in a hospital.
I slowly turned my head to my right. There was my family. I instantly felt depressed and embarrassed.
My mother took a step forward and pushed the IV stand to the side so she could put her hand on mine. Her cheeks were wet.
“Hello son. How are you feeling?”
“Head hurtsh,” I managed to say.
“No shit,” I vaguely heard my father say. “You banged the crap out of your head on the floor. You have no idea how much blood I had to clean.”
“Hush Lloyd,” my mother turned her head to admonish my father. “He really doesn’t need to hear that right now. Go buy a soda or something from the cafeteria.” She turned back to me and gave me the saddest smile I had ever seen. It broke what was left of my heart. My father muttered under his breath as he left the room.
“So why did you do it son?” Mom asked me.
I turned away. Partly out of disgust that I had failed, partly because I didn’t know how to explain it to her. I wasn’t sure I understood it myself.
“Please son, I want to know what I can do to help you.”
Leave it to a mom. They carry you (unbidden, I’d like to point out) for nine months, in their bodies and they think they own you. They’re always proud of your accomplishments, always there to make you feel better when you’re sick, damn, stupid supportive of you in the choices you make in life. It’s enough to make you… well, not do what I did, but it sure makes you wonder if you tell her you love her enough. It’s that crazy combination of love and guilt that helps form us into whatever we are as adults. And today I felt as if I’ve failed her.
“I dunno,” I mumbled.
“Ma’am,” the voice of the nurse on my left returned. “He’s still recovering. It may be best to let him rest a little while longer.”
My mom nodded weakly and gave me that damn pitiful smile again. Then she turned and took my little brother’s arm and began to walk out of the room. My brother broke free and ran over to my bed. Great, just what I need. What do I say to him? Not only does he look up to me, I’m not entirely sure he gets what happened.
Instead, all he does is punch me in the arm, tells me scars are cool, shows me his scar from falling off his bike last fall, and then runs out of the room. What a relief. The drugs do their work and I go back to sleep.
When I wake up again, the lights are off. It must be nighttime.
“Good evening,” says a deep, masculine voice to my right. The voice has some kind of accent, but I can’t tell what it is. It’s oddly continental, as if the voice’s owner had been everywhere and absorbed a bit of every place he’s been.
I looked to my right and saw a man, dressed in a black suit, sitting on a black couch and looking at me with curious, amused eyes. He looked as if he was ready to offer his hand to shake, but saw the tubes and decided not to. Instead, he introduced himself as Mr. Brooks and said he has an offer for me.
“I know why you’re here son,” he says, without a trace of pretentiousness. “Tell me, what’s her name?”
“Roseus,” I say weakly.
“Ahhh,” he nods in affirmation. “I thought as much. She does manage to make the rounds. Oh, no offense son.” He said with a slight chuckle.
I know I should be pissed off, but I can tell that he doesn’t mean it as an insult. Besides, I’m in no condition to do anything about it.
“Tell me, what if you could forget all about her? Erase her from your thoughts and go on to lead the rest of your life any way you see fit, with nary a passing memory of her to burden you ever again?”
I must be dreaming. Hooray for drugs!
“No, you’re not dreaming. I’m very real and I’m here with a one-time offer.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he offered. “So what do you think?”
“I’m sorry Mr. Brooks, I really have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Let’s talk hypothetically. Let’s say that there are two doors in front of you. One door leads to the rest of your current life, the eternal agony of memories of “her” and all the shame that comes when you leave the hospital. Not to mention who knows how many more…um attempts?” He waved generally over my injured body and the room I was in.
“The other door leads you to a life that is yet to be discovered. You have no idea what will or won’t happen. All you know is that you’ll never remember her or anything about her ever again. So again, hypothetically, if you could choose one door, which one would it be?”
I’m no dummy, I’m proud to say. Well, taking into account my current situation, I guess I’m a dummy twice over. Anyway, I know my Monkey’s Paw type situation when I hear it. “What’s the catch?”
“The catch is a simple one. It all depends on how far you’re willing to go. You might find that you don’t want to get rid of some memories. You might find that some memories are intrinsically connected to others. It all depends on the person and the depth and length of the memories. And, it all depends on how well you choose to navigate your own mind and memories.” He stood and walked over to me. Well, I want to say walk, but as far as I can tell (maybe it’s the drugs again) it looks like he’s gliding. “It’s really a small price to pay to be rid of “her” and all memories, good or bad. No need to feel that pain again. No need to put your heart though such torment. It’s a Brand New Day for you son. What do you say?” He smiled, somewhat hypnotically.
The possibilities are more than I can imagine right now, but I know that if I could have erased my memories earlier, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t hurt so much, physically or emotionally. I wouldn’t have made my mother cry or disappointed my dad. I can think of only one question. “What is it?”
His answer is one, enigmatic word.