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Authors: Girish Karthikeyan

Remember (8 page)

BOOK: Remember
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Finally, Answers

Tues 4/18/17 10:38 a.m.

 

A
knock reverberates through the room and a horde of people come in. An old man leads them. As they enter, their names show up over their heads: Ikeyama Kimura, Samantha Morowitz, Neshmena Vickrum, Dobo Milembe,
Irena Mekova, and Lucas Monrovia
.
Dr. Kimura and Dr. Mekova near the bed. All the others sit down.

"Hello, I’m Dr. Kim. I have been your sponsoring doctor for the last 4 months." His lightly wrinkled face seems fitting for the teacher he is.

"I have to know what happened to me."

"That is understandable, Mr. Abby. You came to this hospital 128 days ago. This is the first time you were ever communicative. Dr. Mekova was sponsoring you at a private hospital before that. Doctor?"

Is this a play or something? Just get on with it.

The other doctor nears the bed, Mekova, a little uncomfortable constantly fiddling the edge of her white coat. Her face lives surrounded by a solid black bob cut, centering on asymmetrical wedge bangs. Her green eyes and nose look out of place on that intensely angular face of hers. Blood red acrylic frames with rose glasses round everything out. "I'm Dr. Mekova. You were in bad shape when you were taken in.” I notice something glaringly unusual. The pink tint fades to nothing where she looks out (around the pupils and mesmerizing green irises). “An innovative method had to be used to get you through with the least complications possible. It took you a little under 3 months before you became stable enough to be transferred here. I'm afraid some of your memories may be lost."

There was a little there, but not much. I need more. The idea I forgot everything adds insult to injury.
"What happened?"

"Traumatic brain injury can have a lot of complications. After correcting the initial issues, it can take some time before it is safe for you to wake up. For you, it didn't cause too many issues," Dr. Mekova says reassuringly.

Why can’t I remember? Her voice does nothing, but requires clarification.
"So I was knocked out for almost half a year then?"

"Actually, it was 207 days in total," one of the others says.

Dr. Kim points to each of the people and says, "These are some graduates gaining experience. They are Dr. Morowitz, Dr. Vickrum, Dr. Milembe and Dr. Monrovia."

"Why can't I leave the bed?"

"The physical trainer should be around sometime today or tomorrow to test your walking ability. You haven't been able to pass the test so far. Today should be the day," Dr. Kim answers, after consulting his forearm.

They keep telling me what I can’t or can do. Just give it to me without the bedside BS.

"If everything goes well, you could be looking forward to an early release by tomorrow," Dr. Mekova concludes happily.

"I have a few more questions."
It is my turn to steer this boat.

"I have to go through some things also. You will go through some additional memory loss, fatigue, confusion, and initial walking difficulty. You are past most of it, but some slight issues may still occur," Dr. Kim replies.

"Why do people seem to think I am upset?"

"Some of the younger generation can't take vocal cues to understand emotions. They are too dependent on tech for that type of understanding," Dr. Kim responds.

"So much has changed, how did it happen so fast?"

"I think two things have contributed to your impression that so much changed. The main reason is you are struggling to put together what you do remember into something that makes sense. This combined with the fact you were living quite a distance for this hospital, causes you to have this feeling. After a few days it should all start coming back to you," Dr. Mekova slowly says.

That condescending tone just rubs me.

"If that’s it, we'll all see you tomorrow. If you need anything from us, the nurse can get us. After 8 o'clock a different team takes over until morning," Dr. Kim says as everyone leaves the room.

Everything made sense excluding a few parts, the traumatic brain injury and all that stuff is different. The crash wasn’t bad enough to cause a traumatic brain injury. It remains insignificant in every way. I just remember the screech of shearing metal, the sonic bang of a safety capsule, the tinny smell of pressurized gases, and a smoky light contained in the aftermath where I rested for a bit with bruised knees, chest, neck, and stomach. Those capsules carry a lot of force. Anyway, I just don't think anyone could concoct something so believable and infuriating. What is my job? Something close to scientist.

When the therapist, no, the trainer gets here, I'll prove to them all I can walk. Why don't I remember more before this? They claim I have memory issues. The way they're treating me medically can also cause some of those problems. I resign to the fact my parents know what’s happening to me. Someone comes inside, and it isn't Stacy.

 

Pressure Testing

Tues 4/18/17 11:10 a.m.

"H
ello, I'm Vue Vang. I'm still your physical trainer today." The petite woman, with medium length, black hair tied up in a ponytail, isn’t very reassuring as a PT. She appears a fan of purple.

"You look a little small to be a physical therapist, aren't you?"

"Stop that. You say that before every session. I'm stronger than I look. At least the tech is."

"Let’s get started!"
The enthusiasm came from nowhere.

"Wow, I can't get most people to even try. Like yesterday, first sit up. If anything happens, I
will
catch you. Oh, I almost forgot, I have to adjust your clothes." She puts her hand on my shoulder and my clothes transform from a robe into black pants and a white shirt.

"How did you do that?"

"The same look every time. I told you about this tech yesterday. I just have to choose the shape with my tech and touch your clothes."

"You have to deal with it. I can't remember where I am, if someone doesn't tell me."

Muscle memory takes over without informing me. I slide over to the edge of the bed with my feet dangling down. Vue waits in front of me. I slip off the bed and onto my feet. I fall into her after my feet barely touch the floor. She didn't even flinch. She balances me back on my feet and I walk with her help. Vue keeps repeating something. I’m not thinking too much about it.

"
Trust the tech. Trust the tech.
Let's take a short break on the couch."

"Sitting down will be the easy part."

"You made good progress. Yesterday, I couldn't even get you standing. You kept fighting me. Standing up on your own will take some more time."

"You aren't just saying that, are you? I can't remember what happened last time."

"Let's get back to the bed. I have to discuss some things with you."

The sofa acts as a prison, making it much harder to escape. I sometimes lose balance and struggle regaining it — my senses feel off. I grab Vue's arm just before standing up. We continue moving towards the bed. The bed offers an obstacle to climb onto, as hard as anything else today. She raised it to give me a challenge.

"There we go. You get settled. I have to get something." She leaves fast.

"That wasn't that bad."

Vue returns from the hallway. "What did you say?"

"That went well!"

"I have one suggestion. If the doctors want to get you out tomorrow, I think you should get some tech clothes with leg assist. That removes any possible fall issues.” Vue throws me a clear plastic polymer brochure about it. “You will need a tech upgrade. Don't quote me on that."

"I will look at it. Thanks."

"See you tomorrow, if you are still here."

They supplement so many things. The assist legs can push me up. If Vue deserted me, I would have toppled, just now. I should start reviewing all this documentation. First, tech stuff…

 

(—)

 

"It’s Stacy back for the vitals." She moves from the door to alongside my bed.

"Can you give me any pointers on using these remotes?"

She turns a little apologetic, with more of a pout. "I can't tell you much. I've always just used the tech."

"How can I do it with the tech?"

"If you have tech, it is mostly by what you are thinking and selecting. If you want anything, I can do it for you."

"Just the tv."

"There it is." A screen just appears on the wall, not from a projector, but from the paint. "I noticed you didn't have any food, the whole day. This is the menu on the
tv. Make a choice and I can get it."

"You should choose for me. I don't know the options."

She chuckles, entertaining an idea. "Are you one of those food protesters?"

"Who are they?"

She stands there with hands on her hips. "They say 'Fake meat is no meat.' It is impossible to get real meat. We just have the other meat."

"If I can't tell the difference, it shouldn't matter."

"How about this?" Stacy tips her head to the screen at her back.

The video runs like a commercial, panning through a plate loaded with pasta.
"That looks fine."

"How did your training session go?"

"It seems, it went well. I should be ready to walk with some special clothes, but I have to get tech to use them."

"Tech makes everything better."

Stacy places her hand on the sofa and a table comes out. The food waits there ready to go. Stacy leaves me with it and all the remotes. I'm no closer to understanding how to use them.

 

Tech – abbr. technology

Tues 4/18/17 3:15 p.m.

 

T
he remotes are a pain, void of any labels. Each one marked with just one symbol. They are (star), (curve), and (radiant). Other than that, nothing else on them. The positioning of the buttons adheres to some meaning. I switch to trial and error with the curve one. Stuff keeps popping out of the sofa. It all makes sense after I turn the remote sideways. Each button matches the place it controls in the room with its place on the remote, the buttons squeezed to all fit. The star controls the lights, and the radiant controls the tv. They all function the same way. If anything, it's guessing. Drs. Mekova and Monrovia enter the room, after knocking.

"Hi, if you didn't remember, I'm Dr. Mekova and this is Dr. Monrovia. We are here to talk about your future."

That sounds melodramatic.
"It's kind of hard to forget with your names on the wall, every time you guys come in."

They both raise their eyebrows, and look at the wall. "I never noticed that. I see you did a good job training today. With the leg assist, you should be ready to walk. After some time, I hope you will be able to walk without any help," Dr. Mekova continues.

"Thanks."
I try to not look disappointed.

"When you complete your stay, tomorrow, you have two options. Dr. Monrovia, would you like to explain?"

"Sure. You can leave the hospital or stay."

"Go on, doctor." As if pushed, he steps forward. Dr. Mekova’s lips curve up a hair, leaving the faintest of a smile.

Dr. Lucas Monrovia pieces his words together cautiously. "We would like you to continue to stay at the hospital. Of course, you would be in a standard residential room."

"What is that?"
I feel almost deaf, saying this so much over the last few days.

The young doctor squints with mild irritation or consternation. "It is basically a… apartment, with a hospital… next door. We would like to see you once a week, until you have adjusted, of course."

Mekova grimaces then supplants Lucas with a hand of deprecation on his shoulder. "Thanks,
Mr.
Monrovia. I will take it from here. It's just a job offer. As you are about to see, most businesses offer housing choices at the same place. This reduces a few issues. Mr. Monrovia is attempting to persuade you into a choice that he thinks is better. What would you like to do, Conor?"

"I want some more details about the job."

Monrovia looks on reluctantly. He needs to learn but feels ready.

The antics of Mekova swell a little pride in the meek, for me, at least.

"The job is the same job you have done before, a research scientist. You will be working under my leadership. I’m involved in a few studies," Dr. Mekova says with an air of authority, hidden until now.

"I have nothing better to do. Why not?"

"That sounds good. Here are some more details about the job," Dr. Mekova says and gives me a pad (clear plastic paper).

The doctors leave after that. The job offer rings strange. I still live in the hospital. And they tried to hire me. Living at the workplace is different. It seems I get to leave tomorrow.

I think Vue must have been using leg assets. That explains a lot. How she is so strong for her size. Why she keeps saying, ‘Trust the tech’. The assists must be an optional part of the clothing.

"Hi. Stacy, again. Do you need anything?"

"I would like to get tech."
Maybe that sounds a little strangled. I clear my throat.

Stacy crosses her arms and shifts weight to one leg. "I’m surprised, the few people who come in without tech never want to think about using it. I'll go see if I can get a techie in here."

"Thanks."

"Just hold on a second, please. I have to get rid of this stuff." Stacy indicates the empty food tray in front of me. Stacy touches the table and it goes back into the sofa. "
There
, that's it. I'll send in the techie."

"Thanks. Wait a second, have you heard anything about when I'm getting out of here?"
Nothing is said and done until the team enters the discharge date.

"Your medical team is thinking about tomorrow. If that is all…" Stacy trails off.

I don’t say much for the interim 2 seconds and Stacy leaves.

The rumors are true. I see other people looking and touching their forearms too much. It must mean something. Names showing up on the wall doesn’t make sense, either. Stacy's name never shows up. People can just make stuff happen by touching stuff. How could I forget so much? It must have some explanation. My mind searches for something that ties almost all of this together.

BOOK: Remember
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