Retrograde Amnesia: An Unfinished Short Story

So…here is an unfinished short story I have been working on. I have some ideas about where it is going, what it is about and what might happen, but I thought it might be fun to post it here and see what people think. If you have any ideas about what should happen in this story or how it should end then please post your comments…enjoy…

Retrograde Amnesia

I can remember my mother. She had blonde hair and smelt of roses. At least I think that’s what they are called. ’Roses’; it is a word I associate with her. Some kind of flower anyway. I can picture the twitch she had in her fingers and how she would roll her shoulders and twist her neck to try and relax herself. She would shake her long hair into my face. It tickled me and made me giggle. And smile.

Today I went to see the flowers. It is the one place that has a breeze all round the space. I like to stand by the vents and let the mix of warm and cold air buzz over my skin. It gives me goosebumps and my hair floats all around, just like my mother’s. I pull myself up to the sky where the pipes spurt rain on all the curling trees and plants and let the droplets cover my hair and skin. It makes the air damp and the tiny droplets catch in my nostrils.

The flowers don’t seem as bright as they do in my memory. Or perhaps they just seem more vivid when I dream them, because they have a blue sky backdrop and not the more realistic stars and black behind them.

Later I asked Caleb about it in our meeting. He just said the flowers are the same colours that they have always been.

I instigated the daily meetings between us, about two months ago. Now I am not so sure about them. It hasn’t been very helpful. He only seems to know about facts not memories. His smooth artificial face smiles, floating and glowing in the centre of the white room where he resides. I like him but he seems rather unfeeling. It is beginning to make me feel lonely talking to him. I asked him what it meant to be lonely.
He said “Loneliness is the state of being alone in solitary isolation,”
I said, “Really, well…does that describe me?”
He said “Unfortunately yes, you are alone Sara,”
My name sounds like any other word he says. His words all have the same tone.

I remember when he first told me my name. Must have been the first or second day after I woke. That was the first spark that I could remember anything. Anything at all. I remembered my mother whispering it in a singing voice as I went to sleep.
“Sara, go to sleep, my beautiful Sara, go to sleep…”

Caleb said it would take me a while to adjust. That I should take it slowly. One day at a time. That was six months ago. The dates on the clocks tell me that. Not sure what he meant by ’a while…’

At first I felt like I was stupid. That I didn’t know anything. But then it occurred to me, I actually know quite a lot. I know how to speak and write and read. I know the names of things. And silly things, like how to eat and use the toilet. How to dress, though I don’t much bother with that. I haven’t learnt any of that since I woke up. It was already there, inside me.

And I can remember my mother. I remember my toys, and rag dolly Emma and the bright green grass in front of the porch with the sprinkler. Rain from a pipe like I have here in the flower room.

We lived on Rokehampton Drive. That’s what mother said I should say if I ever got lost in a shop or the park or somewhere. So I said it over and over to myself as I skipped down the sidewalk holding her hand,
“We live on Rokehampton Drive, we live on Rokehampton Drive,”

I asked Caleb about the skipping when I remembered that. Why I couldn’t walk or run or skip here? He just said ’sorry’ and that the gravity was broken or some such. Whatever that means. He tries to get me to exercise my legs on the stretch machine every day but I find it boring.

Everyone walks or runs or skips in the films he shows me. And they have the blue sky backdrops. Sometimes they even dance. And sometimes I ask Caleb to play the music loud and I try to dance, but my dancing is clumsy and I bang against the walls. I get bruises on my thighs.

In the films they talk and sing in excited ways and the children always have mothers and fathers. When I saw that I asked Caleb why I couldn’t remember my father. He said he didn’t know.

I remember words. Lots of words. Caleb gave me a book to look them up in. It’s called a ‘dictionary’. I looked up the word delicious today. It said about some things that taste nice. I wondered what that meant so went to ask Caleb. He asked me if I wanted to change my ‘dietary requirements’. Strange that I knew what that meant. Everything the dispenser gives me to eat is nutritious and designed to keep my body at the required state of health.

The funny thing is that none of it seems to be ‘delicious’. I often like the taste but I would never say it was ‘delicious’. So I asked Caleb if the dispenser could give me something ‘delicious’. So he said how about ‘ice cream’? Mmmm…I remember mother giving me ice cream and how much I loved it. That must be what ‘delicious’ is.

So I got the dispenser to give me ice cream. It was vanilla with chocolate sprinkles. It was very cold and made my teeth hurt but the taste was actually ‘delicious’.

It made me wonder more about the words I know. The ones that buzz around in my head. There doesn’t always seem to be a logical connection between the sound they make when I say them out loud and the meaning they have. Either the meaning I think I remember they have or the meaning the dictionary says they have.

I like to watch the shooting stars in the sky. Caleb says they aren’t actually ‘stars’ as such, but I like to think of them as that. Those are the words my mind had for them when I first saw them streaking past the windows above me. And below me. They are everywhere around us, rushing past.

I did ask Caleb if I could go outside and touch them but he said that nothing can live outside, not without a special suit anyway. As soon as I began to ask him I knew the answer he would give. I knew that I couldn’t go outside. I just hadn’t remembered it yet. I don’t know why that is.

So I asked him what was wrong with my memory. I have asked him this before. He sighs and says “All in good time Sara, all in good time,” like he often does.
So again I ask him “what does that mean?”
“It means that you will remember when you are ready, you will understand when you are ready,”
“How will I know if I am ready?” I say,
“I will know…or you will know…who knows?” he says.
Then I am stumped and don’t know what to make of his riddles. He can be so frustrating at times. So I just changed the subject;
“Where is Rokehampton Drive?” I ask,
“Ah,” he says, “Well that is a place that is very far from here. About as far away as you can imagine,”
“So we can’t go there?”
“No, Sara, we can’t go there,”
“Have you ever been there?”
“No, Sara, I haven’t,”
“So you can’t remember it?”
“No, Sara, I can’t,”

I gave up then. Couldn’t think of what to ask next. As ever his answers frustrate. I looked up frustrate in my dictionary. ‘Frustration’ and ‘loneliness’.

– ‘a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.’ – that’s what it said about frustration. Kind of summed it up I think. Summed up one of the feelings I have…

© 2013 Simon Poore