Chapter by chapter, a story on April who after a bullet injury to the head finds herself searching for answers and seeking the sensations her mind faintly grasps after a year with no memory.
I have visited my psychiatrist only once since the accident. It’s not that I didn’t trust the situation, I just felt unready. The Agency was empathetic to a point, but they wanted their information. Luckily, the therapist trusted my instinct and felt that I should approach her when ready. I knew delaying my sessions could possibly delay recovered memories, however it is a hefty order knowing that my hidden thoughts could be waiting to decimate my sense of self. I was on a “recovered-memory therapy” plan and I wanted to get it over with. At this point I was willing to try almost anything.
I subconsciously tapped my foot against the coffee table laden with old TIME and PEOPLE magazines. I simultaneously heard the Keurig machine in the waiting room dripping coffee, the twenty-something chewing her gum and the scratching of a poorly manufactured pen being manipulated by the receptionist.
Due to a condition called Low Latent Inhibition, I have been taking medication to affect my dopamine levels for a few years to aid with the sensory input impeding on my brain. It is a healthy balance in which the scales sometimes tip to one side or the other. The more anxious I am, the more input. I wish the receptionist would get a gel pen.
“April?” She said.
I smiled and followed the woman to the large room at the end of the corridor. She broke the silence.
“How are you doing today?” She turned to face me as she continued to walk forward.
I always wondered why health care professionals asked that question, if I was wonderful I would not be here, that I can tell you. “Great, thanks.” I smiled, perhaps I could convince myself.
“Dr. Flores will be with you shortly.” She walked happily back where she came.
The room was fashioned with dark wood furniture and a bookcase filled with glass awards and satisfied looking individuals in matching frames. I took a breath and stared at the tall oak blowing in the wind outside. The shit that tree has seen.
She entered. “I’m so glad to see you again April.” Said Dr. Flores.
“I’m glad to be here.” And was surprised to realize that I genuinely meant it. Dr. Flores had a charm to her, she made me feel calm and reassured.
Dr. Flores had her hair down and curled. She sat back in her obscenely large leather chair, taking her time withdrawing the information I came to give. I began to explain the situation I had with the strange man the day before, and realized upon reciting the story that I was more disturbed about it than I originally thought.
“What did you feel when the man said he knew you?” She said.
“Doubt.” I replied.
“Why is that?”
“How do I know he is telling the truth?” I felt defensive. “He could be anyone.”
Dr. Flores replied, “he showed you his identification?”
“It seems to me that throughout this conversation you have brought up more feelings of distrust than directly discussing the year of memory you have lost.”
I was quiet.
Dr. Flores sat back and said, “Do you feel like you can trust people?”
My eyebrows clenched together. “People I know.” I shifted in my seat. “Well, honestly, not even that. How do I know the people I used to trust didn’t in some way manipulate me in the past year? They were in my home for God’s sake.”
“That does sound distressing. What about your sister?” She leaned forward in her seat.
“She’s the only one I trust undeniably.” I said without hesitation.
“That’s not nothing, you know.” She smiled. “You’ve said before that you pride yourself on being able to read people. Why do you feel that it is different now?”
“It feels as if there is a deep secret everyone knows, some inside joke that even if told later I could never truly understand.”
“That seems understandable.”
“Other than my sister, I’m not even sure what to say to people. A lot of my life is confidential, and I’m not sure who knows what. Blain was real skimpy on details-I suppose my job is built on the notion that trust is a privilege and not a right.”
“Given those feelings, how do you think you can start overcoming these feelings of distrust?”
“What do you think about talking to two people that you often interacted with this past year between now and the next time we meet. Someone other than your sister Beth.”
“How will I know they aren’t lying to me?”
“Trust.” She said simply. “You don’t have to tell them your life story.”
I left Dr. Flores’ office without any memories abruptly resurfacing, like a magical spell I wish I could cast. A lot of good my lightning bolt is doing me. Even though I realized she may be right, I was wary to talk to anyone, even though deep down I knew this could help my situation. I also acknowledged that I didn’t feel comfortable talking in my house.
I drove to the park near my home, sitting on a hot bench away from the happy children digging in the sand and swinging to new impossible heights. I took a breath and tried to overlook the dump truck rattling by and the dogs barking excitedly. Luckily, my cell phone was taken by hospital personnel upon entering the ER and was given to me after discharge. I assumed The Agency had their time with it, but hopefully what I needed wasn’t comprised. I scanned the calls I had made the past six months and something caught my eye. I had made nine calls to the same unknown number within 48 hours of the accident. Whoever had access to this phone would also have this information, perhaps it’s a dead lead. With nothing to lose, I dialed the number.
“Archie’s auto repair how may I help you?” A chipper girl stated.
“Yes ma’am! The best in town. We are performing free break checks today and have discounts on tires and tire rotation. How can I help you?” Her happiness contrasted alarmingly with my sour mood.
“I think I need to talk with the owner, Archie is it? My name is April.” I suddenly recalled the image from the bar that night. Archie and a man named Tom, I almost had forgotten its familiarity. Thank you cute bartender.
“April Reed?” Her voice changed.
“Uh, yes.” How did she know my last name?
“You should have said so. Please hold.”
I heard the shuffle of the phone as I waited. A man’s voice came on the line.
“Howdy April, we have your car parts all in, how about ya come pick them up today at noon?” Archie’s voice had an underlying tone I couldn’t quite place, yet something about it sounded genuine. Or genuinely concerned. Either way I had to go in, car parts or not. I’m throwing all fucks to the wind.
“Yes, noon sounds great, see you then.” The line went dead.