I must have seen this movie a hundred times, and so when the scene I was expecting next didn’t happen, I sat forward and squinted at the screen.
“Did it skip a scene?” I asked.
“No,” Ashley, my oldest daughter, said.
“What about that scene where they get back to the house, and they find out the dog has eaten the box of chocolates so they have to take it to the vet?”
“That was the last scene, Mom. It happened.”
I sat back in my chair. Had I dozed off? Maybe.
The next morning was Sunday, but I’d forgotten to shut off my alarm for some reason. I smacked the “off” button and rolled over.
“Aren’t you getting up for work?” Dale asked.
“Mfff!” I said, my face buried in the pillow. “It’s Sunday.”
“Sunday was yesterday,” Dale said. “Come on, get up.”
“No it wasn’t,” I said. “I distinctly remember that yesterday was Saturday.”
Dale stood for a moment, his belt in his hand, his suit coat in the other. He was headed to work. On Sunday morning? But what if he was right, and it really was Monday? I searched my memory for Sunday, but came up completely blank.
I sat in a doctor’s office, staring at a magazine. How had I gotten there? What was I doing there? This wasn’t my doctor’s office. Breathing fast, I glanced at the business cards in a little holder by the receptionist’s desk. Neurologist, it said. Why was I here?
“Chandra Clark,” the nurse called me. I set down the magazine that I couldn’t remember picking up and followed her down the hall.
“Now, what are we seeing you for today, Chandra?” the nurse asked, her voice pleasant but her eyes busy on her clip board.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I can’t remember.”
I was inside a machine. It was white, and humming, and I was staring at its metal panels that encircled my head. Blank as my memory of how I got here. I felt like I’d been there a long time, long enough to get bored, but I couldn’t remember any of it.
“Help?” I said, almost laughing. “What is this?”
“It’s okay, Chandra, you’re getting an MRI,” I heard Dale say. “Just lie still or they’ll have to do it over.”
“How long?” I asked.
“Another hour. You can go back to sleep if you like.”
My hands, how had my hands gotten so thin? All speckled and wrinkly, like old ropes. I tried to get up, but I couldn’t stand. I was in a wheel chair. When did my body start aching like this? I glanced around the white-walled room. Strange, everything was so strange. The blue drapes, a bedside table with flowers, and there on the wall, pictures! Photographs, tacked up, pinned, taped, along with drawings that must have been done by small children. What children I didn’t know, mine were teenagers. I tried to make out the faces in the photographs. There was Dale, but what had happened to his hair? It was all gone. I found Ashley, in a wedding dress, next to a stranger, and then another picture with her, the man, two children. There was my son Carl in a military uniform. I know he had always wanted to be in the army, but he was only sixteen. This man had to be in his twenties.
So much time had passed! All of it had slipped away from me.
“How long?” I whispered again. “How long?”