Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Confused( 08/16/07)
A Catatonic Mind
By Laurie Walker
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Maya reached for it. Peering closely she barely made out a name before her sight went blurry. She rubbed her scratchy eyes, which refused to focus; the first sign of another attack. Every time one of her headaches started she found herself confused, unable to concentrate. This time she needed to think, to find the picture, convinced it would solve the puzzle of her murky mind.
She didn’t understand why Dr. Jenkins had her photograph. A few weeks ago when she’d walked in a little early for her appointment, Maya’s breath caught as she found him gazing at her picture, immediately recognizing her own titian hair.
The shock brought on an episode. She couldn’t remember anything for a while. Fortunately, with time, her lost memories caught up. As the recollection of the picture returned she felt frantic to find it, but until now no opening for a search had appeared.
Her slender hands pulled at the desk drawers; but like the cabinet, like the dark recesses of her mind, they were also locked. She didn’t understand. Why would he secure everything but leave the door to his office open?
Another painful pulse overtook her. Maya didn’t have long, but there was nowhere else to look. Desperate for any answer she picked up the paper, clutching it tightly. Quietly she opened the door, sneaking a glance into the hallway before scurrying out.
A muffled footstep stopped her. She turned and found Dr. Jenkins’ lithe form standing near. A stray, flaxen curl dropped over his high forehead. She became engulfed with an overpowering urge to brush it back.
“Is everything okay?” he asked, his baritone voice lingering in the hallway, setting her body atremble. What was it about him that made her react so?
“I’m fine,” she said, though truly aching to candidly ask why he had her picture. Maya didn’t think they’d ever had a relationship. Of course she didn’t really remember anything about herself. Lately everything about her appeared puzzling…what was real and what was her brain’s patchy quilt of a memory.
An orderly appeared, looming behind his boss.
“May I have it back?” Dr. Jenkins asked.
“Have what, doctor?” she asked, suddenly aware he must have followed her.
“The paper you took from my desk.”
She stood, trembling, unable to come up with a convincing lie.
His face tightened a fraction. “I saw you take it, Maya.”
She clutched her nightgown, not liking the look in the orderly’s eyes, sensing he’d be more than willing to help extract it. With a huff she handed it over.
“What does it say?” she dared to ask.
“It’s a prescription for one of my patients.”
“You’re lying,” she accused.
“I’m not. I promise.”
“But it has my name on it,” she said, unable to control the quivering of her voice.
A flash of pain and Maya abruptly felt nauseous. She dropped to her knees, clutching her red curls. 'It has my name on it.' The words echoed in her mind, unwilling to release her from the truth. Her roiling stomach heaved.
Strong arms pulled her up, settling her against a broad chest. Maya lie catatonic, her body unwilling to obey such a brittle mind.
“Call someone to clean up this mess, then bring my bag.”
His scent washed over her, oddly soothing, as he placed her on a bed. Maya could have sworn she felt his hand on her hair, his lips on her brow. A knock at the door ended any contact.
“Will she be all right?” Maya recognized the orderly’s voice.
“This always happens when a memory tries to push through.”
She felt something prick her arm. It hurt.
“Do you think she’ll ever remember?”
She felt herself drifting away and struggled to remain aware long enough to hear his answer.
“In ten months she’s shown good progress. Losing a child is never easy and my wife still blames herself for accidentally killing ours. Until she can forgive herself, she’ll remain in this bewildered state.”
She felt another kiss on her head, heard the gently retreating footsteps. Even before he shut the door her mind was frantically sewing back together protective patches over her shattered, traumatized mind.
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