Threnody: Closest to Heaven – Chapter 9

December 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm (Threnody: Closest to Heaven)

– CHAPTER NINE –

I had completely forgotten that I was meant to be seen daily by a member of the community psychiatric team. I’d spent the time since my return alternating between my computer and looking through my room for any clue at all that would help me understand my past. I had the vague but strong conviction that I kept diaries, but again, I realised that those were items that I was certain to get rid of.

This Tuesday morning, I had barely finished my breakfast of cornflakes and honey in milk when the doorbell rang. Given that it was morning, I had just woken up from a dream that completely perplexed me, and that I had barely loaded my sugar system with blood – I mean, my blood with sugar – it was lucky for the caller that I even went to answer the door.

I expected a postman, but was instead greeted by a middle-aged, generally rounded lady in a brown coat and an officious smile. She held her identity badge in front of her like a talisman, so that I was unable to miss it. Caroline Sedley, Community Psychiatry Nurse, it read.

‘Hello,’ she said, the cheerful tone jarring in my ears, ‘I’m Caroline. I am sure your doctor must have mentioned one of us community nurses would drop in to make sure everything’s all right.’

I was immensely tempted to say with an equally bright smile, ‘Everything is! Thank you for your visit.’ – but I knew that I should try to leave a better impression on my first day at home. The nicer I was to these people, the sooner they would stop bothering me.

So what I said was instead, ‘Please come in.’

She stepped in, bringing in the smell of spring air, vanilla car scent and musty paper, a folder in one hand. She was wearing the blue nurse uniform underneath her coat, and several name badges and a USB key were hanging on a long [thingamybob ribbon/elastic/thingy] around her neck. I took her into the little living room we had that I hadn’t spent much time in, since I arrived, and which was consequently stuffy and a bit dusty, although everything was tidied away onto shelves and on the ledge under the coffee table.

I sat down on one sofa and faced in the direction of the other, so that she would take the hint and seat herself there. I felt in need of maintaining my personal space, and since I wasn’t able to keep community nurses out, forcing them to seat themselves at a safe distance from me was my retaliation.

‘Would you like a cup of tea?’ I asked perfunctorily, as she sat down across me.

‘Oh no, thank you,’ she said, still smiling. ‘You’re my first visit, so I’ve just had a cup of tea right before I left the office.’

I suppose it hadn’t occurred to her that people my age liked to sleep in.

‘Just to make sure before we begin, you are Auriel?’ she queried.

I blinked, realising that I had been so busy resenting the early visit, that I hadn’t introduced myself. I kicked myself mentally for that – for all I knew, that could cost me points. ‘Oh! I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself. I’m Auriel Denevier. I’m the right person.’

‘Excellent.’ She smiled at me – she had a way of beaming smiles across while maintaining a background smile. ‘I’ve just been reading your discharge summary and the letter Professor Stroyd sent us, and she wants me to just see how you’re getting on since you left the hospital. How have things been?’

‘All right,’ I said. I’d only left twenty-four hours ago; it wasn’t as if I could have done anything exciting, since then, that required being recounted in vivid detail. I had ransacked my house for information about my past, done my groceries, cooked food and had a bath. I didn’t see how I could possibly struggle with any of these tasks. ‘I didn’t do much.’

‘That’s what we like to hear. And at the moment, who are you living with? I take it this is a student house?’ She had opened the folder she had brought in and was now scribbling on a page that looked like a continuation sheet from where I was sitting.

‘It is, but nobody’s at home right now. I live with two girls, and they’re both away because it’s our Easter break. They’ll be back in about a week’s time. They’re based in a different town for their training so they might not be back until a bit later than that, if they choose to go straight to their training site rather than take a detour here before.’

‘And how do you feel about being here on your own?’

‘Uh. Fine.’ I blinked, surprised. I had been living on my own for a considerable while – my housemates had had completely different rotations to me and were based out of town until next month. ‘This isn’t anything new. We’ve been on these rotations since the start of third year.’

It was her turn to look surprised. ‘That sounds rather unfortunate. Was there no way to change the rotations? I imagine it must be a bit hard to spend all the time on your own here.’

‘It’s not that bad.’ You got used to it – used to the way the house sighed softly to you, or creaked at night, or welcomed you with ringing silence every night when you returned from placement. ‘I’m mostly out on placement during the day, anyway, so I barely have time to really notice that the house is empty.’

‘True,’ she agreed. ‘So since your return, you’ve managed to settle in all right? It’s a bit trickier for you since you’re on your own – you have to get the groceries and clean the house yourself.’

‘Er, yes, that’s all okay, too. I got my groceries yesterday, and I’m going to clean the house soon.’

‘Excellent.’ She smiled at the page as she wrote away, and I presumed the smile was for me, not the paper. ‘You’ve been sleeping all right? Eating all right? And you feel well in yourself?’

I nodded to all the questions, and gave affirmatives to everything on the list of questions she ran through. I hadn’t even had any symptoms to begin with, when I left the hospital, so there was barely anything to comment on.

She eventually decided that I was living life as normally as a student could be expected to, and got up to leave. ‘It might be myself or my colleague who visits, tomorrow – we share the same shifts but sometimes do different patients, since we are both assigned to you,’ she said, closing the folder and getting to her feet. ‘There shouldn’t be any cause for worry – we’re both on the community team, and other than us, nobody else should be coming to bother you.’

‘Are those visits going to happen for a long time?’ I knew I should wait a few more days before I asked this question, but I wanted to be able to make them understand, from now on, that I didn’t want things to keep on this way for very long. ‘It’s just that my housemates might be back in a week’s time, and I would rather not get them wondering what on earth is going on.’

She nodded, with an understanding look. ‘I can certainly see why you’re concerned, Miss Auriel. Professor Stroyd has asked us to see you daily for a week, until your appointment with her, so I’m afraid you will be seeing us for a week, at least. We’ll probably rarely pop in after that – but we’ll inform you about it beforehand so you’re not taken unawares.’ She tucked the folder under her arm, searched around in her large handbag and extricated an A4 sheet with a few lines printed on it. ‘This is a list of phone numbers – it includes emergency numbers that you can ring in case anything happens. Somebody will answer the emergency line at all times, and it’s perfectly confidential so please never hesitate in case there is an emergency – not that I expect there will be any, of course. There are also my own contacts on there, and the rest of the team.’ She handed me the sheet, which I took and folded without bothering to look at. She was right about one thing – I wasn’t going to need emergency numbers. Emergencies were best sorted out without doctors and needles and medication around.

‘Thank you,’ I said, politely, striving to look as if the sheet made me happy.

She had started to make for the door, and I couldn’t resist asking, as I opened it for her, ‘Am I going to be the first visit tomorrow as well?’

She looked my way, and something about my expression must have given me away, because she laughed and said, ‘Well, I can make you the third or so. I know students enjoy their lie-in.’

I plastered a suitably grateful expression onto my face and wished her a good day as she left. I definitely shut the door too soon, but I needed the privacy to be able to let go of the corny grateful expression.

I had a day ahead of me, and although I burned for more answers, I had to admit that there was probably nothing to be gained from repeating the previous day’s activities: I had searched my room as thoroughly as was possible, and if it had yielded nothing up to now, chances were it would yield nothing new today. I didn’t even know where else I could look for hidden clues. I seemed to have had all items covered, when I eliminated them before the MAI. The options that remained open to me, right now, were to either take a long walk and hope that somehow the steps my feet would take would lead me to fragments of memories that would somehow start to piece together in my mind, or to log into Voipe and see if the mysterious Theorem was around.

I recalled that Theorem’s Voipe window had read California 15:22 when I had written my messages – it would be night-time for him or her, right now, and quite likely that they’d be online. Dared I risk it? At the moment, confronted with the unchanging monotony of yet another day fruitlessly seeking for sources of information which quite simply no longer existed, I felt desperate enough to take the risk, even though I still had no recollection of who Theorem was.

I went upstairs once more and turned on my computer, and when I logged into Voipe with trepidation, it was as if I had already known, all along, that a little window would pop up to say Theorem is Online. I bit my lip and dithered for a moment. I was appearing offline, but if I remained forever wondering if this was really wise, I would get no answers at all to my questions.

I did know a few things about Theorem. I had a couple of dozen contacts on my Voipe that were people I had never met in real life – they were people from an online art forum where I had at one time been a moderator for calligraphy, and although the forum was now closed and I had retired over a year ago, I still spoke to some of the people I had met there. The problem, though, was not placing the context in which I had met Theorem – but it was actually knowing who this person was. I had absolutely no idea. Clearly this was somebody I spoke to on a regular basis – enough so that they’d worried when I’d disappeared offline for more than a couple of days.

Why could I not remember somebody I had spoken to at least every other day for a year at least?

I would just have to try and avoid any major faux pas.

Aequiem: Hello! I’m so sorry I haven’t been around.
Aequiem: How are you?

There was the slightest of pauses during which I wondered whether Theorem was away after all, or whether he had realised something was off, and then a little icon popped up at the bottom of the window, next to the words Theorem is typing. Less than an erratic heartbeat elapsed before his words appeared in the chat window.

Theorem: Wow! Hello! I was so worried! You’ve been gone for a hell of a long time
Theorem: I’m all right
Theorem: Just been working on homework and assignments, really
Theorem: Nothing new
Theorem: And you? Did you overstay the visit at your cousin’s, then, after all? XD

So whoever Theorem was, he – I definitely had a sense that it was a boy, now – wasn’t close enough for the previous Auriel to confide to him where she really was. But then, I did wonder – however close somebody was, to me, would I ever confide such a thing to them? It did depend hugely on what the problem was that had prompted me to go for the MAI in the first place, but it occurred to me that if it was something that had affected me as strongly as Professor Stroyd said it did, I wouldn’t want anybody to know about this. You didn’t push your weaknesses onto either your enemies or your friends.

Aequiem: They wouldn’t let me return.
Aequiem: Insisted that the house was empty (which, to be fair, it was) and said I should just remain at theirs for a bit longer.

Theorem: Well, at least you had fun
Theorem: You’re always in an empty house, so it’s good for you to get out and see people you can have a good time with

I felt at a loss how to respond, because I didn’t really have many recollections of what I generally felt about my cousin – I only knew the facts, that I had a cousin who lived two towns away and at whose place I stayed for the holidays, but other than that, my mind drew a blank.

Aequiem: I’m sorry I worried you, though. Didn’t mean to do that.

Theorem: Don’t worry about that! XD
Theorem: It’s just funny to see you offline for a longer time than usual
Theorem: But it’s all good – it’s good not to be attached to your computer

I was truly running out of responses, by then. I didn’t dare ask him any questions about himself, because I had no idea whether those would be things I should already know, from previous conversations. He seemed to be really friendly, which further confirmed my suspicions that he was definitely more than just an acquaintance.

Aequiem: I am attached in conscience, though. :B
Aequiem: Now fill me in! You must have been doing more interesting things than I have, in the time I’ve not been around.
Aequiem: Did you complete your assignments?

Theorem: Lol – and yes, I have completed the ones that were due
Theorem: I have two of them due this week
Theorem: Essays. I haven’t started them yet >_>

Aequiem: O Procrastinator!
Aequiem: You even beat me. I give up.

Theorem: You should have known better than to even want to try! XD
Theorem: Procrastinating works, for me
Theorem: I work so much more efficiently when I am under pressure

Aequiem: I know the exact feeling.
Aequiem: You can’t deny though, that it’s uber stressful.
Aequiem: Sometimes, I wish I was the sort of person who could get motivated by the thought of finishing things ahead of time.

Theorem: Sometimes XD

I was stuck again. The last exchange had happened really quickly, spontaneously, and I had been feeling more at ease, already – but now I found myself casting around desperately for topics of conversations. At least I was managing to keep the flow going and hadn’t done anything suspicious, yet.

Aequiem: Procrastinating does work, though.
Aequiem: As you pointed out. >.>

There was a pause before anything else happened, on his side, this once – and I wondered uneasily if perhaps I was expected to keep going, since I had absolutely no idea what I could possibly talk about at this point.

Theorem is typing eventually popped up, extremely briefly, before his next words landed on my screen.

Theorem: Who are you?

My heart thudded hard against my ribs, in a strange staccato pattern, almost as if it had leapt forwards, bumped into my ribcage and then tried to fall back into place again.

Aequiem: What on earth do you mean?

His answer came back immediately.

Theorem: Aequiem doesn’t capitalise.

I blinked. I didn’t? This was news to me.

Aequiem: Huh? I felt like capitalising. It doesn’t make me an impostor.

Theorem: Aequiem hasn’t been capitalising in instant messaging for almost two years. Granted, your tone seems like hers. But the capitalising is only one thing that makes me certain.
Theorem: Are you going to say who you are?

I had a moment that mixed frustration and horror perfectly. What did I even do, at this point? I was Auriel – even though I had no clue who he was. Therein lay my problem, though. How could I even justify that I was the person I was, when I didn’t have any memories in common with him?

Theorem: I’m going to phone. Pick up.

I didn’t even have time to panic before the Voipe ringtone came through, and a little box with Theorem is calling flashed up on my screen. I bit my lip and stared at it, feeling like crying from frustration. Suddenly compelled, I clicked on Reply and spoke first.

‘It’s me, and I won’t even begin to go into how ridiculous it is that you think I’m an impostor just because I capitalised some sentences.’

There was a short pause and a little crackle of static on the line, before his voice came through.

‘Auriel? I… well. Wow. I’m sorry. It’s going to sound silly, but, er… It just seemed really strange.’

My breath stuck somewhere between my chest and my throat. His voice was familiar: clear American accent, in a voice that was definitely masculine but lightly-pitched; pleasant and, at the moment, disconcerted. It was a voice that resonated with something deep inside me, something that my brain had not been able to access on its own.

‘Alex, you realise you just phoned me because me capitalising made you think I’m somebody else?’ I managed to cull the hysteria out of my voice.

‘Look, I truly, sincerely apologise.’ I could picture him wincing. ‘It just… seemed strange. You disappeared for a week longer than you said you would, and then when you came back, you’re suddenly capitalising. And, well, you know, it’s not as if something like that, from your end, wouldn’t make me worry about something happening to you.’

I didn’t know what to say to that. There was clearly a back-story to this that I could not recall – and this seemed to pertain to my own past. So Alex did know something of my past?

‘Look,’ I said, taking the gamble. ‘Alex, if I told you something a bit… strange, you won’t think I’m mad, will you? I need your help with something.’

‘Shoot. We’re all a bit mad.’

‘Well… I can’t tell you what happened exactly, but the problem is that something happened and I… I’ve got a bit of amnesia.’

He sounded appalled. ‘Are you okay? It wasn’t an accident, was it? You’ve been in hospital this while?’

I blinked. Part of me yearned to confide my problems to somebody, especially given that this person, I trusted, and knew was in possession of at least part of the information I needed. Something held me back, however. I didn’t quite dare reveal what I was going through. Memories were very private things and were taken for granted – until you didn’t have them, you couldn’t realise how important they were, how impossible it was to function without them and how… private they were. Even though I needed to go on a quest for my memories, now, I had absolutely no wish for even Alex to realise what those memories would mean to me.

I just needed them. I didn’t want anyone to know why.

‘I’m okay,’ I said, doing my best to be reassuring. ‘I’ve just been really frustrated because I have huge memory holes – and I don’t even know who to turn to, really, because, well, it’s not an obvious thing to turn to somebody and ask. It’s just been buzzing around my head for the past couple of days, and then on top of that, you tell me I’m not who I am, and…’

‘I’m genuinely sorry,’ he said, and I could tell he was. ‘That’s… well… shocking. I respect that you’re not up to discussing it much, but, well, surely Voipe should in itself give you enough conversation history to maybe trigger something? After all, you could get thirty days’ worth of conversations through the log. What sort of things is it you can’t remember?’

I cast around hastily for a convincing excuse to explain why I had no Voipe history. ‘I’d do that, but I’ve saved my Voipe settings to delete conversation histories after a week. And since I’ve been away for a week, I have nothing to go on with.’

‘Oh, no,’ he said, ‘talk about a time when this is inconvenient! I can understand why you’d do that, though. I set mine to delete every month – now I look at it, Voipe can actually save conversations… forever. Scary thought! Anyway, I digress. What did you want to know?’

I laughed weakly. ‘Everything?’

‘That’s, er, sort of hard to start with,’ he said. ‘You remember a few things, clearly. I mean, you know who I am. That’s a pretty good start if you have amnesia, if you ask me.’

I bit my lip and eventually decided on not telling him that until I had heard his voice, I had had no idea what his name was, and even now, I couldn’t remember particulars about him. ‘Erm. I remember a few basic things. My name and address and that sort of thing – otherwise they wouldn’t have let me out of hospital.’

‘Maybe you just need to give yourself time?’

‘I sure could do with all the extra help I could get, with this,’ I said, idly leaning forwards and wiping a spot off my screen. ‘You have no idea how impossibly frustrating and… off-putting it is.’

‘Okay, well…’ There was another strange note in his expressive voice. ‘There’s something else not quite right. Have you tried logging into your Facebook?’

‘No. I couldn’t seem to get the right password.’ It took a moment for me to realise what he had said. ‘Wait, what is wrong on my Facebook?’

His slow exhalation made a loud noise over the microphone. ‘Your password. It’s scarlet lung.’ Abruptly the words popped up in the chat window.

Theorem: ScarletLung

‘What… well, it’s a strange password… but how do you know it?’ I was pretty sure that no matter how close a friend Alex was, I wouldn’t give him my password. I was really too private a person – all my instincts balked at the very thought.

‘That’s the password you use when you are worried about… well… that somebody might need to log into your account and post something for you. It’s the old thing you used on Artisian, back when you were a moderator and you took the plane – remember? You used to get paranoid about the plane and you’d tell me that if something happened to you, I could log in and post something to let people know. ScarletLung is what you would change it to. You told me that whenever you were worried that something might happen to you, you’d change it to that, so that I could log in and let people know.’

… I had clearly dug a hole there for myself. I cursed silently. ‘Well… if I remembered why I’d done this… I would probably not have a problem.’

He spoke very abruptly, as if the thought had just occurred to him. ‘Auriel – are you safe?’

I frowned at my computer screen. ‘Yes… yes. What do you mean? Why?’

‘It’s just… maybe what happened to you is something you foresaw,’ he said.

This wasn’t the direction I wanted the conversation to take. ‘I don’t know, Alex. Does this even matter? You don’t know and I can’t remember. Perhaps if you told me… I don’t know… stuff from my past? That I should know? Any sort of background stuff that would get me more… well, more grounded.’

Silence followed my words briefly before he spoke, in a slow, thoughtful voice. ‘You remember things like your name. You remember who I am. I think you’re worrying too much, Auriel. It sounds to me that you are grounded – you’re just worrying over how much you might not know. But anyway. If you could pick a point at which you want me to start, I don’t mind helping however I can.’

‘I don’t know where to start… I can’t even remember enough for that. Why did you ask me whether I’m safe? What sort of danger would I be in?’

I had the feeling he bit his lip, because again there was a silence before he continued, ‘Well… I am always rather worried about your safety, given… well, given your past. Which I suppose you can’t recall.’

My past, again. ‘Alex, what was wrong with my past?’

‘You know something? I have a feeling that if you’ve forgotten it… you won’t want me to remind you of it. At least… not right off, as the first memory to regain from amnesia. As long as you’re safe… I reckon, actually, you’d be rather angry if I did what you’re asking me to do and filled you in. Mind, I don’t even know much. But I figure that if I tell you anything you might recall it all right away. Better that part comes back naturally, really.’

I felt like a volcano of frustration, erupting all over my keyboard. ‘What on earth is that supposed to mean? This is about me – I want to know it.’

‘All right,’ he said, ‘all right. You know where you are?’

‘Yes, it’s rather easy. Student house.’

‘And who do you live with?’

I hesitated only briefly. I hadn’t realised I knew a lot of details, and many things were foggy, but I knew enough to go on with. ‘Two girls – Kaden and Anna. We’re all third-year medics. Kaden has… too many sisters. Two half-sisters. I can never remember all the others and all the ages and what they’re doing. Kaden is from Devon. She’s rather posh and her parents are both doctors. Anna is from a poor background, from Newcastle, and her parents… I think they’re divorced. Or her father is dead. I… I don’t know.’ I paused, frustrated, trying to remember what had flickered briefly in my mind, but it was like trying to grasp at a fading dream. ‘She goes back home to her grandfather. She has two brothers. I think one of them is a half-brother. Why are there so many half-siblings everywhere? It’s confusing me.’

Alex laughed. ‘Hey, I have half-siblings. Well, one. Or I’m a half-sibling, depending on how you look at it.’

‘Oh. Oh. Right. You have one half-sister, two years old, Lilian. And you have two step-sisters, Joan and Megan. Wow. I know this stuff.’ I stopped, baffled.

‘See? Stalker points. You just won yourself three stalker points.’

I didn’t laugh. ‘Alex, how long have I known you for? Eighteen months, give or take?’

‘About that, yeah. Why?’

‘Because,’ I said, ‘there is this problem. I seem to be remembering recent things fairly well. It’s… well… the more distant past that I can’t recall.’

‘Well…’ He sounded a bit helpless. ‘It’s a start, I guess.’

‘I know my PIN number, my address, I seem to know the streets around my house, although I don’t know why, and I know people’s names and the information that should go with some of those names. I just… don’t know… anything about me. I know my name and my age and my face, but… when I look in the mirror, when I look at the name… what is that person? Who is she? What is behind her?’

‘Give yourself time,’ he suggested.

‘Why won’t you give me the answers?’

‘Whoa, I believe you now. You are stubborn. I just have a feeling that telling you the answers – the few I have, at any rate – won’t give you your memories back. It’s no good just telling you things… random facts… if they won’t mean anything to you. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe –’

My heart was sinking. In a way, he was completely right. My passport had given me hard facts and given rise to more questions than ever. Those three names… I shivered. It wasn’t my name. It just… wasn’t. It brought no associations, no feelings of déjà vu. Maybe Alex was right.

‘Alex, have I ever mentioned my dreams to you?’

He had been talking, and I realised I had just spoken over his words. He replied before I could apologise. ‘Mentioned? Hell yeah.’ There was a rustle from his end of the conversation line. ‘You’ve often asked me about my dreams. Remember I told you that I’ve read Castaneda in college? And you’ve always said that Castaneda’s stuff about lucid dreaming is no use to you, because you always know you’re dreaming? The main hitch though in our conversations on dreams is how I just don’t seem to dream. I have ­–’

‘One or two a year,’ I said, in a low voice. ‘And you can’t always recall them. Dreams are dreams. How can people think they’re… real?’

‘That’s the whole point of lucid dreaming, though. You’re aware that it’s a dream, and some people have control on it. Most people don’t know their dream is a dream, you know.’

I should know this – my mind put a big tick next to this statement, as if approving that it indeed knew this to be a fact – but no associations came with this fact. How did I know this to be a fact? I certainly knew my dreams were… dreams. I was not simply drawing from my recent dreams – but this was something I knew.

‘But how, Alex? How does that work? What makes you believe your dream is… real? How can you believe it? Surely when you do something fantastical…’

‘Yeah, but it seems perfectly logical in dreams, doesn’t it? Uh… Maybe we’re the wrong people to be having this conversation.’ He laughed. ‘That’s what always happen when we discuss dreams. Yours aren’t normal because you always know you’re dreaming. And mine aren’t normal because I just don’t have enough dreams to be able to tell you anything useful about them.’ He paused. ‘What is currently wrong with your dreams? Why bring it up suddenly, while we’re discussing memories? Nightmares?’

‘No… no.’ I hadn’t had nightmares, true ones, in a long time. Or did I still have them… but not call them nightmares, because the waking life was much worse? ‘It’s just… I don’t know. I seem to get some answers in them, which is more than can be said about when I’m awake.’

‘Well… I guess that’s good, if slightly dubious. I mean… in your dreams, it is your subconscious pulling the strings, so I guess it could easily give you the answers you want to believe are true?’

‘Surely I’d come up with some answers that made sense instead of answers that give rise to more questions, though, if I had a say in the matter,’ I said, although I knew better.

‘Well –’ There was a shout in the distance from Alex’s end, and he sighed – an exhalation of air that made a buzzing sound. ‘Ah. My sisters want the internet. I’m sorry. I’ll catch up with you later if you’re still around?’

‘Sure, I’ll be around in the next few days, anyway. Say hello to your sisters from your online friend.’

He chuckled, that low rumble of amusement that was as familiar to me as his voice. ‘If I’d needed more proof that this was you and not an impostor… See, you must be regaining your memories anyway.’

‘What do you mean?’ I frowned at the screen.

‘You always try to say hi to my sisters “from my online friend”. Usually you just type it in caps lock.’

‘That sounds like the kind of creepy thing I’d do,’ I muttered. My older self seemed like a creature with a will completely of its own. I wondered if I was ever going to be this person again, and then, uneasily, remembered that I’d tried to destroy that older self.

‘Okay, I’m off,’ Alex was saying. ‘Catch you later!’

‘Bye,’ I said, already lost in my own thoughts.

Once again, I had ended up with more questions than answers. There was a little kernel of reassurance in that conversation, though: I seemed to be recalling more information. True, as I had pointed out to Alex, they mostly seemed to be from the recent past… but as they said, beggars couldn’t be choosers. I had to make do with what I got… until I could get to that hospital folder of mine, of course.

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