by Rana Roshdy
I left my husband sleeping in our warm bed and come to my cold desk here to write about the longest month in my life. Once written, I will forever let it go.
“Darling, still awake?” Karr asked.
“Mm” I replied trying not to fully wake up.
“Do you remember someone called Simon, Simon Baker?”
“Mm… I don’t think so.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I don’t know who that is; why?”
“Nothing, just…” He paused. I was too sleepy to ask him to finish the sentence, and he never did. Few seconds later, he spoke again.
“Do you still love me?”
“Karr, I’m really trying to sleep here.”
“Please? Just tell me.”
“Of course I do! Now, will you let me sleep? It’s 2 in the morning!”
It’s interesting how one’s eyes would fail to notice oddity only because it’s been there long enough. I realized it the other day as I applied makeup to that scar near my eyebrow; I no longer see it.
That evening, I was going to my aunt Holly, who would rather be called Mrs. Dempster just so she could hear the name of her deceased husband floating in the ether. I like to pass by her every now and then to keep her company. Though, that time I wanted to tell her about the dreams.
“There’s someone that shows up in my dreams almost every night. I don’t know who he is, but in the dream, he’s very close to me. At first the dreams were random, they made no sense; but then they started having a sequence and sometimes it’s scary. I’d often wake up scared right before one of us dies,” I said.
She poured more tea in my cup, then asked, “Is that the reason why you seem too disturbed lately?”
“Well, I guess? It’s just weird that I dream of the exact same person everyday when I don’t even know him in real life.”
I took a sip then continued, “And then, there’s this feeling, like I have become detached from everything around me, including Karr. It’s like something’s missing, in my heart, in my head. I don’t know what it is, but my life is not as whole as it looks from the outside. I have this odd sense of not-belonging, as if I have somehow lost connection with the universe.”
Silence followed my words that I could almost hear my thoughts echo in the room, “You know, I watched the street drowning in mist on my way here, it made it look like some fading memory, and for some reason I saw myself, as if I’m fading too.” I continued.
My aunt had a look on her face as if she was studying something in her head; very focused that her face features almost froze for a moment. She then got up and left the room muttering what sounded like ‘God help me’ or ‘God forgive me’. A minute or so later, she came back with a folder. She opened it and showed me a picture asking if the man in the picture was the man in my dreams. I highly doubted it. I looked at the picture with the corner of my eyes as I took another sip of the hot brew, which I almost choked on, in shock of what my eyes witnessed.
It was, indeed, the man in my dreams, but that was not all. The picture was of a man and a woman; I was the woman in the picture.
“Who is that?” I whispered, not able to make a proper sound.
“That is Simon Baker.” She said.
“Simon? Is that Karr’s friend?”
“As far as I’m aware, he and Karr never met.”
“Who is he then?”
“Well…” she paused; I pulled my eyes off the picture to face her, she then continued, hesitantly, “That was your husband, dear.”
“My what? Are you having a laugh?”
“I certainly am not.”
“Then what are you talking about? How on earth can someone be ‘married’ and not know it?”
“Darling, I know this is confusing, but I promise I’m going to explain everything. Why you can’t remember is because you had an accident, you and Simon. It caused a brain injury which has affected your memory.”
“Are you really serious?” I asked, praying to every God she would just laugh and say ‘got you!’
“Unfortunately, I am.” She replied.
“And what happened to him?”
“Well, Simon died in that accident.”
It felt like a few centuries passed before I was able to open my mouth and ask, “When did that happen?”
“About 4 years ago.”
“4 years!!” I almost gasped, “Just what kind of nightmare is this! How come no one ever told me about it before?”
“Laura, sweetheart, it was of no use to tell you. You wouldn’t have remembered any of it. Doctors said that your memory was severely damaged that almost two years prior to the accident were gone, permanently; and even sometime after the accident you were barely able to form any new memories.”
“So, right after that accident, wasn’t I aware that my husband died? I mean, was I at any point aware of his death?”
“What happened after that?”
“You were nursed for a few months following the accident, then some time after you went to Sweden, where you met Karr.”
“Does Karr know this?”
“Of course, he does.”
“So, he also hid it from me…”
“Karr loves you, Laura. He wouldn’t have wanted to burden you with this. However, since I saw it’s begun affecting you, I thought I would let you know the truth behind it, just so you can let it rest and move on.”
“Move on? You just told me I was married to someone I don’t remember, who died and I couldn’t mourn him because I didn’t even know he existed! And then you talk of moving on?”
I spoke with Karr about it later that night. It was more of a fight, I was so mad at him for hiding this. I was, also, mad at my family and the world; but Karr just happened to get all of it.
He eventually left the house after it was impossible to communicate with all my anger and frustration. He didn’t come back until Sunday evening.
“So, are you still mad?” Karr asked as he walked into the kitchen where I was cleaning the sink; something I do to clear my mind.
“You left for two days!” I said.
“You asked for it.”
“I asked you to get out of my sight.”
“Well, that was me getting out of sight!”
The rest of that conversation didn’t sound any better. I went to bed and made it clear that I wanted to be alone.
I was hoping I could go somewhere away from all that madness, but it was a trap inside my head and there was no escape. During the two days Karr was away, and even when he was back, I kept on visiting that house I shared with Simon, where I apparently spent 2 years of my life. I took the address from my aunt, was desperately trying to trigger any memories. Though all I got was some distorted pieces of a puzzle that just don’t fit together, and the more time I spent there, the more lost I felt.
A few nights passed where Karr and I slept in separate bedrooms. I needed to be as alone with my mind as possible. One night, as I was just falling asleep, I sensed a movement in the room. And when I turned on the bedside lamp I found Karr. He sneaked into the room and was just sitting there beside my bed; watching me with a look in his eyes I could never describe, yet I couldn’t help but adore. That moment I realized how much I loved him. I was unconsciously mourning the death of a man I couldn’t recall loving or marrying, risking everything I remember with the man I know I love.
“But, if you never knew Simon, why did you ask me about him the other day?” I said
“Well, you were saying his name in your sleep.” Karr said.
“Yes, a few times. I thought maybe you were getting your memory back.”
“And you thought if I was, I’d stop loving you?”
“Well, I thought if you remembered your love for him, there would be no room for me anymore.”
Wrapping my arms around him I said, “Darling, if there’s one thing that everything that happened could prove, it is that I love you so dearly and no ghosts from the past could ever change that.”
I laid my head on his chest, and as I closed my eyes I realized, it wasn’t just a scarred forehead anymore, it was a scarred memory. And I wondered if the mind, like the eyes, would get used to the oddity.