I remember. I remember . . .


Jamie Henderson, guest writer

Dawn. The sky is grey, shrouded in pillows of charcoal clouds.

I stare out the window of my room; the courtyard outside of Helping Hearts Nursing Facility is just as drab as the inside. A sigh falls from my lips- I’ve only just awakened and already I’m longing for the familiarity of that sheet of rock these people call a bed.

“Mr. Abbott?” I turn my head to see a young, blonde thing in mint green scrubs walking toward me. “Didn’t think you’d be up; time for breakfast!”

She puts a hand on my arm. It’s too tight- too foreign… I don’t know this person.

“Who are you?” My eyes feel too big for my head as I start to panic. I try to shake her away but she holds fast, digging her nails so close to the flesh of my forearm I fear that she may draw blood.

“Mr. Abbott, please!” She cries. “Calm down! It’s just me! Lucy!”

Lucy… The name lingers in my mind as if I have heard it before… as if it’s something I should know.

But, then again, there are lots of things that I should know.

“Lu…Lucy?” My throat is a desert. I suppose my screeching was louder and longer than it seemed at first.

“Yeah,” she smiles. Her voice is soft like before, “you remember? Nurse Lucy?” I let her help me up from my chair as I try to remember a little more of this chit. “Ready to eat?”

I must be nodding because she leads me from my room and toward the canteen, slipping my cane into my right hand as we walk.

* * *

The walls in the canteen are the colour of putrid green vomit… and the people here wonder why I don’t eat.

I look around the room and try to recognize someone- anyone. There is no one I know, nothing memorable aside from the sickly chartreuse walls. Alzheimer’s will do that to a person, I suppose … isolate them. Ever since I started giving my Galantamine to the shaky old codger in room 24B, mine’s been getting worse.

The eggs these people have placed before me are a grotesque mixture of yolky yellow and mud brown. They run in circuits around my plate, dripping over an already soggy biscuit and resting alongside the grease from my burnt bacon. Horrifying. I don’t really remember what I ate before Helping Hearts… but I’m almost positive that it didn’t smell like rotting tomatoes.

The sun is finally out, I notice when I feel its soft rays on my cheek. Lots of sunlight is rare, here in London … I would give anything to feel it, to touch it, to breathe it in- just this once. I poke one of the eggy bubbles with the tines of my fork and it pops like a birthday balloon. I frown. If anyone sees me, they’ll (hopefully) see how disgusted I am with these walls and this pathetic cuisine.

I see the door on the other side of the room and a wicked idea is conceived in my mind. Nurses? Absent. Doctors? Nowhere to be found. Security? I want to laugh- as if anyone actually cares enough about the dying to gift them with those glorified babysitters.

It’s my subconscious that makes the decision to stand up and leave, but no one notices. Not even the lot of un-bathed, elderly chaps that seem to actually enjoy their egg soup. They’re all brainwashed. I bet their kids told them that this was a nice place.

So did mine.

* * *

I find myself in a garden about a half a mile away from the facility. It’s a popular tourist spot, but I’m the only visitor today. I sit on a wooden bench, surrounded by flowers of all sorts- their inviting scents goading me to rest my eyes for just a bit…

“Aaron?” She said as she fixed my tie, “how do I look?” She did that little twirl that I loved so much.

“Alright.” I lied with a shrug- she was gorgeous.

“Alright?” She huffed. “Just alright?”

I held her head in my hands, forcing her to look at me. Straight at me. Pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead, I told the truth:

“You. Are. Stunning.”

My eyes shoot open as if those words are rifles and someone has just pulled the trigger into my chest. I know that woman… but who is she?

Brown hair, unremarkable green eyes … completely ordinary. Judging by the bullet holes in my heart, I must have loved her. Past tense. She would be with me if she were alive…

“Aaron! Are you going to eat?” She yelled as she stood at the stove, trying to sound demanding and failing because she was just too sweet. She hadn’t known that I was watching.

“Morning, love.” I smiled as I sat down and she set a plate of food in front of me. Omelet, fruit, sausage, and biscuits … the wafting scent hit my nostrils like a wave at high tide.

“Eat up,” she clipped in her happy, lilting voice, “big day today!”

Memories… I’m remembering! It’s all too real to be a dream, I know this girl! She’s my wife! So why can’t I remember her name?

“Aaron?” Her voice is a whisper, and she’s so much older… this memory is still fresh.

“Yes?” I said, equally soft.

“I’m sorry…” there was so much grief in her eyes, apologizing for something no one could fix.

She was in my heart, my love… keeping her safe…

“Don’t be sorry! It’s not your fault!” I wanted to scream.

“Aaron…” her smile could light up a Christmas tree.

Sometimes the heart just fails…


… Someone is shaking me, screaming my name and waking me up before I can remember her…

* * *

Apparently I was gone for hours. It was noon when they realized I was gone, and 7:30 by the time they found me- lost in my memories. The coppers brought me back and that blonde nurse (Lilly? Laura? It’s already slipping…) put me to bed after a long lecture about my safety.

My eyes are closed, blind to the world. My only music is a symphony of crickets outside of my window, stringing their legs in harmony to each other. It hurts to think, to remember… but I try. And today? Today I did.

My head spins even though I’m lying down. For one earth-shattering moment … all is still. Nothing makes a sound save for my laboured breathing. And then it happens.

I Know. The memories are there again, if only for a few sacred seconds, and I savour them, and I soak them in, and my chest aches from sobbing- my pillow is damp with tears. I see her face, I see our wonderful-wonderful– life together, and I see those brilliant green eyes that I fell in love with exactly 77 years ago to this day and- I Remember. I Remember…


Her name… was Molly.