Settling on the edge of the couch, I put my forearms on my knees and concentrate with all my might. I remember work, and I remember snow and cold. What else might there be?
But it’s like trying to capture smoke in my hand. There would be the hint of a memory on the edge of my brain, but when I tried to explore it, it would disappear.
I get up again and pace, full of a tense energy I can’t explain. Hours ago I was sluggish and barely lucid, and now my thoughts are racing and I couldn’t sit still. Why? What had changed?
I have a flashing memory of a dog barking and then silence, but I shut that memory down. I don’t want to know what happened during that gap, I have a bigger gap. And bigger problems.
I want to ignore them. I want to go on with my life, with my wife, and just pick up the pieces and keep going. But how can I?
I’ve been missing for six weeks, with no memory of it. Everyone I knew had a funeral for me, thought I was dead. I’d have to ask Maisie tomorrow why that was, why they assumed I was dead, not just missing. Not that I would ever do it in a million years, but why wouldn’t they just assume I’d run off and left my wife and decided to start a new life somewhere else? Things like that weren’t unheard of.
Maybe Maisie would have some answers.
I sit back on the edge of the couch and close my eyes. Maybe trying to force my memory is the wrong idea. I take a few deep breaths, just trying to relax and let my mind wander.
I go back to my memory of work. I remember clocking in, I remember Biff being his typical cranky self. It could be the memory from any day at work in the last three years actually, except it made my stomach sink. It was that day, the day something happened to lead me to this point.
So I let the memory play over and over, trying to get past the murky gray fog after I clocked in.
I walked outside…and saw Travis without his hardhat on. Yes! I’d had him cut the engine and put his hardhat on and—
The image of Travis wavered, flickering between day time and night time. From a sheepish expression on his face, to an obstinate one. I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t push it, because when I tried to, it started to fade.
The next thing I remember is seeing snowflakes falling through my windshield. The sky was dark gray, like at dusk.
Okay, so I’d worked my shift and then got into my truck to leave. What happened after that?
Red blinking lights–red falling snow–red barrels–red liquid in the dirt.
The images flash by so fast, I can’t make sense of them.
I blink my eyes open.
Trying again, I close my eyes and picture the snow once more. I’m sitting in my truck, texting Maisie. My hands are cold. It’s cold outside, too cold for anyone to be out in it.
I open my eyes with a gasp. I’d gone back to her, worried she would freeze to death. Had she done something to me? But no, it couldn’t have been the sweet homeless woman.
Because after that is only blackness. Not the foggyness of half-forgotten memories, but a deep, heavy black that sits on my memory, my mind, and my heart like a stone.
And somehow, in that blackness, I remember hearing Ms. Josephine sing.
CONTINUE TO PT. 12 (COMING SOON)